Hamburg Ahoi!

June 2021
Words by Birgit Reuther

To celebrate the opening of our shop in Hamburg, we stroll through our new neighbourhood, the Schanzenviertel, and explore its subcultural significance.

Hamburg. For music lovers, the first thing that comes to mind when they hear this name is The Beatles, Star-Club, St. Pauli. But just a short walk from the famous nightlife and harbour district, there is a neighbourhood that hosts a vibrant blend of subculture, lifestyle, shopping, cuisine, and of course the music scene.

In the Schanzenviertel, or “Schanze” for short, you can always feel a certain rumbling sensation. Protest culture meets the next hype. And party people from out of town populate the streets along with all the creative artists who live in this neighbourhood. The rough charm of the former industrial and workers' district can still be experienced in many corners. But the Schanze has changed a lot over the past decades; the neighbourhood is political and hedonistic, polyglot and controversial, brittle and chic. The contrasting atmosphere of the Schanzenviertel is best felt on the Schulterblatt. On one side of this street, the Rote Flora rises up as an alternative fortress. And on the other, urban flâneurs gather in and in front of cafes and bars to see and be seen. The Rote Flora – once a variety theatre and cinema, today a left-wing autonomous centre – also houses a very special building in the park behind the house, the Kilimanschanzo. This high-rise bunker has been a meeting place for artists in the graffiti scene since the 1980s, and their work has shaped the district to this day. Crews and artists such as Oz, getting-up, Davis One and Push provide impressive evidence of how subculture appropriates urban space over and over again. With the variety of street art, ranging from edgy to subtle, but also with the all the diverse street styles of its passers-by, the Schanze is an outdoor gallery of its own that irritates, amuses and inspires.

Above all, music was and is essential for the DNA of the district. Concerts and DJ sets, nerd hotspots and scene hangouts can be found at every turn. The so-called Sternbrückenclubs - Astra Stube, Fundbureau and Waagenbau – located beneath a railway line – bring rare and innovative tunes from hip-hop to indie rock to electro into their maze of rooms. These three venues have recently teamed up to create the Schroedinger at Schanzenpark, a picturesque outdoor area for live music in the shadow of the old television tower that also provides food distribution to the homeless during the day. And while Haus 73 on Schulterblatt acts as a kind of pop-cultural multifunctional playground between parties, cinema and craft beer tastings, the artists in the smoke-curtained music bar Mutter discuss life, music and everything in between.

The shift from working to cultural class in Schanzenviertel is particularly apparent opposite the subway station Feldstraße. Knust, a music club with strong links to the local scene - from punk to folk; rock to soul; electronic to hip-hop, has been located in a former slaughterhouse since 2003. On the wood yard in front of the brick hall, chants of “You'll Never Walk Alone” can be heard regularly when the games of the nearby FC St. Pauli soccer club are broadcast. The area around the Knust is a real melting pot for the Hamburg pop and subculture scenes. Labels, producers, artists, booking and promotion agencies work at the Karostar Musikhaus across the yard. A few steps further the record stores Hanseplatte, Zardoz and Groove City offer their exquisite selections and knowledgeable chat. And in the nearby and unmissable high-rise bunker, night owls can take the elevator to the music club Uebel & Gefährlich – for concerts from avant-garde to pop.

If you’re still feeling nostalgic after all the exploring in today's Schanzenviertel, you can stroll by the Hotel Pacific - The Beatles stayed there in the ‘60s when they played in Hamburg. Many other musicians stayed at the nearby address Neuer Pferdemarkt, such as one of the first all-female rock n roll bands, the Liverbirds.

From burgeoning art scenes to underground music venues, Hamburg was and is a breeding and stomping ground for subculture.

Visit our new shop at Schanzenstraße 46, 20357 Hamburg, Germany.