Wax to the world: Record Store Day in Berlin

On April 23, we celebrate the weird and wonderful independents selling vinyl in Berlin.

Record Store Day 2021. Photo: IMAGO / Müller-Stauffenberg

The joy of Record Store Day in Berlin is as much in getting to know the colour and character of these independents as it is about selling records. But, when the two go hand in hand, why not have your cake and eat it too? Usually marked by in-store performances, impromptu DJ sets, and most importantly, cut price vinyl, Record Store Day can be a lot of fun if you know where to look.

This year, under the auspices of a faceless international network of record store kingmakers, Record Store Day falls on April 23rd. Unbeknownst to most, RSD is, in part, an organised event with official participating stores. One such, Moon Dance in Wedding, is a charming and cosmic album-oriented rock specialist shop with big Kneipe energy. A little dingy? Sure. Wild decor? You betcha. Passionate, friendly, and local? Bingo.

Outside of the official channels, Record Store Day is probably best understood as an excuse to spend your day zipping from store to store picking up a stack of fresh wax. Any good itinerary begins on the banks of the Landwehrkanal in Kreuzberg. While Hardwax has the history and Sound Metaphors has the crowds, Bikini Waxx is the one if you want dance music. Tucked away in the Hof on the trendy Manteuffelstraße, Bikini Waxx rewards anyone confident enough to ring the bell to enter with a laid back vibe, fair prices, genuine staff, and a thumping selection. Shopping for dance music can be borderline traumatic in the wrong store, but Bikini Waxx does everything right.

Atmosphere is absolutely essential when record shopping. Music just sounds better when you’re having a nice time and nowhere knows that better than Jackson Records. Just down the canal at Weichselplatz, Jackson Records has arguably the most interesting catalogue of any on this list. A glance inside could reveal anything from library music to heavy metal, goth to drum and bass, with the one unifying characteristic being that nearly all of it is excellent and often rare. Due to that, it’s a shop that rewards an unhurried approach but taking time here is a joy in itself.

Melting Point in Kollwitzkiez: A great collection of affordable second-hand records. Photo: Melting Point Record Store

The dérive through Neukölln has too many stops to mention here so instead make a beeline to Staalplaat on Elbestraße. A real gem, Staalplaat is a second home for fans of experimental electronics, avant-garde, drone, improvised music or all of the above. It’s also a lowkey pick for best music merch and miscellanea with a selection of art books and DIY riso publications that would rival Motto if it was a bigger space. The caveat to that of course is assuming you’re into the more obscure, trippy end of things, but then again, you are already in Staalplaat.

In Friedrichshain, one store that never seems to get much buzz is Ghost Town. A nod to The Specials, it’s got a fittingly substantial collection of top notch dub, reggae, and punk. While you’re in that part of town, Tricky Tunes is another unspoken treasure trove. It doesn’t really have much of an online presence to speak of so the only way to know what to expect is to turn up at Mainzer Straße 8 and start digging.

Finally, an all too short list comes to a close in Prenzlauer Berg at Melting Point records. It’s remarkable as one of the few record shops in the busy Kollwitzkiez and even more so for its collection of affordable second-hand records in a decidedly schicky locale.

Similar to Museum Island, Record Store Day has way too much to do in twenty four hours, especially given the notoriously weird opening hours of record shops. Still, RSD is about inspiring people to invest in their community, so take this little tour and start discovering.

Moon Dance, Müllerstraße 167, Wedding. Mon-Fri 10:30-18 and Sat from 10-14
Bikini Waxx, Manteuffelstraße 48, Kreuzberg. Mon-Sat 13-20

Jackson Records, Weichselpl. 8, Neukölln. Mon 16-21, Tue 19-21, Wed-Fri 14-21 and Sat from 12-21
Staalplaat, Elbestraße 28 – 29, Neukölln. Thu-Sat 14-19 or by appointment
Ghost Town, Holteistraße 12, Friedrichshain. Mon-Sat 13-19
Tricky Tunes, Mainzer Straße 8, Friedrichshain. Mon-Sat 10–20
Melting Point, Kastanienallee 55, Mitte. Mon, Wed , Thu & Fri 12-19 and Sat 12-20