Alice Cary: Berlin’s vinyl mecca

Vinyl fan, British Vogue’s Alice Cary, takes us to her favourite record store

My Secret Tip is Bikini Waxx Records – a record shop in Berlin. I’ve been collecting records for quite a long time and I’ve got a couple of Technics decks at home. I spent hours searching in there for records when I went, pre-Covid-19, to the city. I’d love to go back. The people in there are interesting to talk to and it’s a cosy, welcoming environment. There are some really comfortable sofas upstairs, which you get to via a slightly terrifying ladder. (It feels like you’re going up into a family loft.) The store is the perfect place to shelter from the cold in the city’s harsh winter: everyone is having a great time listening to their own things, in their own worlds, on headphones.

Bikini Waxx Records is round the back of a building past a courtyard; you have to ring a bell and it’s not very obvious. There are a handful of listening stations dotted around where people truffle through boxes then pop the record on that they want to listen to.

You may see people making “yes” and “no” piles next to them of the records they want to keep and those they want to put back. And then you can discuss what you’re into and share bits to listen to with other people. The only thing is that they have such good music at Bikini Waxx that it’s very hard to come away without a very full tote bag of stuff. It’s a really good place.

The vibe at Bikini Waxx is very relaxed, which is very nice. Even if you don’t know what you’re looking for – and even if you don’t really know what you’re doing – you can just sit and find something that you like. And at Bikini Waxx there will always be something really good. You can just ask them what they’ve got and what’s new as a way to start the conversation. The only problem is that if you’re visiting from abroad you have to pack your purchases securely for the trip home.

Another related Secret Tip is in London: Flashback Records on Bethnal Green Road. It’s a regular record shop, but downstairs they’ve got this whole section of 99p records. A lot of my record collection is made up of 99p records I’ve bought there. Many are very obscure, but there are some bangers, too. The only way that you can go there is to commit several hours to search through everything. When my mates and I were at university, on student loans with pretty limited budgets, we’d go there. And they have the most amazing records – some of them are super weird, like you’d come across heavy metal stuff that you’d accidentally crank up really loud and want to tear the headphones off. 

Flashback is set up differently from Bikini Waxx in that they’ve only got one turntable downstairs for the 99p-ers – there’s another one for new releases upstairs – so you do have to wait around a bit if you want to listen to things. But that makes it quite a shared experience, because you’re standing with your mates listening at the same time. It’s wicked. I love it there. It’s a really good place, and I really, really recommend it to anyone who likes records – and even if they aren’t a vinyl die-hard, it’s a valuable experience.

You can follow Alice on Instagram at @alice_cary

Portrait: Charlie Easter

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