“What’s your tribe?” The question made me gulp my tequila soda. It came from a 30-ish banker, clad in a gold-beaded kimono and sunglasses. We were at a techno party, on a Friday night in New York City. He was asking, of course, which camp I had attended at Burning Man. If the camp wasn’t $10,000 a week—or worse, if I hadn’t even been there—he’d be on to the next. You can find people like him in any of the world’s ‘hipster’ destinations—not into the music, but can’t wait to post that gram in a kimono at sound meditation in Tulum.

I expected the same from Berlin. Its clubs are some of the best worldwide, and the “No Photos” policy, I assumed, wouldn’t keep all the “Tuluminatis” away. They’d still be able to say, “Oh, I’ve been to Berlin, haven’t you?” But when I got to Ipse, an outdoor club perched on the banks of a stream, I thought to myself, Berlin still feels real. There’s no tolerance for showing-off. No frills. The queue—people in white T-shirts and blue jeans, patiently waiting their turn—was sophisticated in its simplicity. No club tables, no “I have a reservation,” no stacks of money waved about. Once inside, there weren’t trendy cocktails—Moscow mules, strawberry daiquiris—just vodka or gin chased down with a fizzy drink. The D.J. was king and there was no court. The atmosphere was dictated by the sound, and the crowd moved together, writhing, grinding hips, swaying to the remastered vinyl tracks. “This is so great,” was all I could keep saying.

I asked Cecil, a native Berliner, “Are there many places like this?”

“Oh, thousands,” he said. “In Berlin, it’s about the music. We all just love the music.” —Elena Clavarino