Niilas: A Local’s Guide to Bergen

Bergen is a weird city for DJ’s. It’s fairly small, with 270,000 inhabitants, and a city center the size of the Copenhagen Airport. But in contrast to its small size, it’s a city that facilitates musical greatness. From rather mainstream acts like Kygo and Alan Walker to club-legends Bjørn Torske, Røyksopp, and Skatebård; Bergen is a DJ’s city. Unfortunately – but obviously – the ongoing pandemic makes clubbing really hard. As of now all of the clubs and cafes are open, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll be whenever the pandemic ends. Let’s cross our fingers that they come back stronger than ever, and you’ll get the opportunity to experience these places on a new high! Meanwhile, I’m trying to stop by once in a while to leave a couple of, badly needed, kroner in the kitchen to keep the boat afloat.

Bergen, being the small city that it is, there aren’t those big couple-of-thousand-clubs. But what we miss in size, we make up for in sound and feel. I would say there are 3 main clubs to check out.

Clubs

Østre (Østre skostredet 3)

Østre is a 2-floor concert-arena that host’s a huge variety of events. They have great facilities for arranging different sorts of nights, with 5m under the roof and a capacity for around 200 people. This, and Landmark, is where I’ve played the most out of any club-space in Bergen. They host the legendary electronica festival Ekko which has booked people like Nina Kraviz, Jon Hopkins, Bjarki, Legowelt, the list goes on. Østre is one of the most important venues in Bergen and a must-go for DJ’s… And, yeah, the sound system is smashing.

 

Landmark (Rasmus Meyers allé 5)

Landmark is a part of Bergen Kunsthall, which is one of Norway’s leading contemporary art museums. During the daytime, it’s a café and a nice one at that! The menus are updated on a regular basis & always very tasty. Here you’ll see someone that is either arranging a symphony, or someone you’re going to dance with later the same night when it’s been transformed into a club. I’ve had some legendary nights here on both sides of the turntables. This spot continues to push boundaries for concerts and club-concepts. It has great sound, usually great bookings/events, and great people.

 

Café Opera (Engen 18)

Opera is somewhat of a wildcard but in the most positive sense of the word. It’s the club where Bjørn Torske has been a resident DJ for probably longer than I’ve lived (24 years), and even my mother used to go here back in the day. As with Landmark, it’s a café during the daytime. Here you can get decent dishes with a drink or two, grab a couch for a couple of hours and lean back to watch the freelancers waste another day off (this includes you). When nighttime shows up, the waiters get tables and people out of the way and get it ready for the night’s event. These events can vary from acid-jazz improv night too, Bjørn Torske doing an old-school house set on vinyl, or maybe someone nobody’s ever heard of. Nevertheless, Café Opera is almost always a fun alternative and a must-go for visitors.

Opera & Landmark serve as great eating-places as well, but here are some other places to check out for catching a nice meal.


Restaurants

Pygmalion (Nedre Korskirke allmenning 4)

A low key and relaxed café/restaurant with an alternative menu. It’s also a gallery of sorts, but let’s just say I’ve never stopped by to look at the art… They also have great vegan food and a tiny toilet in the back. Recommended!

 

 

 

 

Café Spesial (Christies gate 13)

This one goes out to the students! Spesial is cheap, nice, cozy, and has surprisingly good food. They are especially known for their pizzas, but I would recommend both pasta and even their vegan burger. I’ve experienced some of the waiters as a bit off, but you’ll get over it fast.

 

 

 

Pingvinen (Vaskerelven 14)

The name translates to “The Penguin”. I have no idea why, but truthfully I don’t really care; they serve really great traditional Norwegian food. A combo between a pub, bar, and restaurant, it’s one of my favorite places to eat. I like to order a huge plate of meat and potatoes with a huge beer and kickback. This is a horrible place for vegans, their best alternative might be some crackers without the cheese.


Record Shop

Apollon (Nygårdsgaten 2A)

Unfortunately, Bergen really lacks a scene for record-shops. Apollon is the closest you’re going to get, however they really don’t have much of dance-records outside of local releases. Either way, it’s a nice place and a proper bar in the evening. With a beer-selection that could satisfy anyone, it’s worth stopping by at both times, 2pm and 11pm, for some vinyl and beer.

 

 

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