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At 68, Berlin’s Famous “Techno Grandpa” Still Hits the City’s Hottest Clubs

If you thought your grandpa was cool for his age, you’ve probably never heard of Bernhard Enste, the legendary “techno grandpa” of Berlin. When other 68-year-olds turn in for the night, he’s just getting ready to hit the hottest techno clubs in the German city and party until dawn with kids young enough to be his grand-children. They worship him, by the way, as he represents their hope for a happy old age.

Bernhard Enste wasn’t always the techno grandpa. He was born into a Catholic family in Mainz, and grew up dreaming of one day becoming a priest and converting the Eskimos to Christianity. That didn’t work out as planned, and he became a carpenter instead. At age 40 he got tired of working with wood and became an artist. Ten years later, his only son succumbed to cancer and his marriage fell apart. He felt that he needed to get out of Mainz, so he moved to Berlin, where he discovered the techno scene.

Growing up with The Beatles and Santana, techno always sounded more like noise than music to Bernhard, but all that changed when some friends invited him to a rave one night. The bass, the flashing lights and the energy of the crowd appealed to him instantly and clubbing became his thing. Today, he spends most his nights in Berlin’s many techno clubs, where he dances until the late hours of the morning.

Photo: YouTube screengrab

It was hard to fit in with the clubbing crowd in the beginning, and Ernste remembers feeling as an outcast, but as people started noticing that he was still around at 3 or 4 in the morning, they started warming up to him. They stopped seeing him as an old grandpa and accepted him as a friend. Nowadays, he has over 1,000 contacts in his mobile phone, 5,000 friends on Facebook (the maximum allowed) and he receives more party invitations than he can honor. Major festival organizers pay his travel expenses and hotel just to have him attend, and musicians ask him to dance in their music videos. He can get onto the guest list at any club he wants, an impossible feat for even the most well-connected ravers in the city. Bernhard Enste is a living legend of Berlin’s techno club nightlife and an inspiration for young people that old age doesn’t have to be boring.

Photo: Komet Bernhard/Facebook

At 68, the techno grandpa can still dance the night away and leave the club at ten in the morning on his own two feet, but he does worry that there will come a time when his bones won’t be able to keep up with his hunger for clubbing. He homes that some of his many friends will carry him to the club on a stretcher so he can at least spray people with soap bubbles while lying down. Spraying soap bubbles on ravers is one of his favorite things in the world.

Photo: YouTube screengrab

Ernste doesn’t worry too much about the future, though, he doesn’t have time for that. When he’s not dancing or blowing soap bubbles in the club, he’s attending festivals, starring in music videos, or getting involved in social initiatives, like educating young people about drug abuse. The energy of the club scene is the only drug the techno grandpa needs, but he has witnessed the damage synthetic drugs like MDMA can do to naive youths. He also has other plans, like becoming a DJ. Even though he knows almost nothing about technology, he has plenty of friends who can teach him how to work equipment like turntables and synthesizers.

Photo: Komet Bernhard/Facebook

As the Berliner Zeitung once wrote, “if techno is a religion, Bernhard is probably a guru” and one that Berlin’s young night owls adore. He gives them hope that they can grow old and still remain active on the club scene. He is nothing like the grumpy old men they associate most elderly with, he’s energetic, super-friendly and always in search of a good party.

 

Talking about most other people his age, the techno grandpa had this to say: “My generation is the lost one, not the young one of today. Many people only have money and their retirement in front of their eyes and they can’t see the beauty of life. I for one am dancing my way through life, that is part of my survival strategy.”