Sankt Pauli A Highly Tempting Quarter
16 March, 2017
Despite its location on the shores of the icy North Sea, Hamburg is an ebullient city – and Germany’s second largest – while St. Pauli is its hottest quarter. It is articulated around a main avenue, the Reeperbahn, a risque, bacchanalian precinct, site of the red light district and a trove of highly recommendable temptations. From the iconic Schmidt Tivoli theatre to the Millerntor-Stadion, home to the endearing FC St. Pauli, we lift the veil on all the allurements of Sankt Pauli.
Located on the upper floor of the Schmidt Tivoli is Angie’s Nightclub, one of the most popular clubs of Sankt Pauli’s night scene. Founded by the soul singer Angie Stardust in the 90s, the resident band features a different guest vocalist every night, often a leading figure in Germany’s music scene or on the international arena. Next you may proceed to Mojo Club, a live music venue tucked away amid the underground of Sankt Pauli’s iconic Dancing Towers, or to either the Klubhaus or Golem, two multi-space locales with an invariably interesting entertainment schedule crammed with concerts, movies and theatre plays. To round off your evening, you could head for the Golden Pudel Club (currently undergoing repair work after being ravaged by fire). Set on the banks of the Elbe, not far from the Fischmarkt, on the outside it looks like some unassuming fairy-tale house but it is actually the temple of electronic music where the dancing goes on until dawn.
At the intersection of the Spielbudenplatz and Davidstraße, hard by the Reeperbahn, stands Davidwache, probably the best known police station in Europe, with its own fan club! And, for its location, one of the busiest in Europe, too. Dating from 1840, the building has appeared in countless films and television series, while its cells have seen both small-time crooks and celebrities of the calibre of Paul McCartney and Pete Best held in custody.
The Landungsbrücken, also known as theSt. Pauli Piers, is Hamburg’s old harbour terminal, situated on the banks of the river Elbe. It was once northern Europe’s port of departure to the New World and some five million people are estimated to have set sail from here, bound for a new life in America. Not far from here stands the Fischmarkt or fish market. In winter, it opens at 7 a.m. and in summer at 5 a.m. and immediately fills up with locals, tourists and hawkers as the fish auction gets under way. The brunch served on Sundays at various restaurants in the Fischmarkt is simply wonderful.
The modest yet great FC St. Pauli is a reflection of the neighbourhood spirit and a last refuge of grass-roots football. Their principles advocate against xenophobia, fascism and sexism and the team is a favourite among both Germans and all over the world. They come out onto the pitch brandishing the Jolly Roger as their banner, with Hells Bells by AC/DC played over the PA system, while Song 2 by Blur sounds out whenever the side scores. Watching a match at the Millerntor-Stadion is truly an experience that goes beyond that of just a sporting event.
This is the main thoroughfare running through Sankt Pauli and one of the most ribald avenues in the world. Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, it has two faces. By day, crowds jostle about doing their shopping or going out for a coffee. By night, the neon signs of the discos, night clubs, cabarets and sex shops light up. Mid-way between Barcelona’s Las Ramblas of the 1980s and Las Vegas, whatever transpires in Reeperbahn stays put within the neighbourhood. Local curiosities include the Beatles Platz, a square commemorating the passage of The Beatles through the city in their early years, when they performed at such venues as Star-Club, Kaiserkeller, Top Ten and Indra. Then there is The Reeperbahn Festival, which has been held each year at the end of September since 2006. Its programme features hundreds of concerts and the festival is a beacon for the music industry on an international level.
With its old-world, slight seedy charm, the Schmidt Tivoli is the variety theatre par excellence in Hamburg’s red light district. Be sure to get tickets to the midnight show, when the ambience is more risque than during the afternoon or evening sessions. If you can’t get hold of a ticket, there are many other theatres and cabarets in Sankt Pauli to choose from, including the Operettenhaus, which specialises in musicals, the more conventional St. Pauli Theater, which has been operating since 1841, and the Imperial Theater.
Superbude Hotel Hostel
With its colourful designer rooms done out in fully recycled furniture, the Superbude is Hamburg’s hipster hotel for those who like to stay the night and be able to boast about being a trendy. A more conventional option is the EAST, housed in a former factory. Its stands out for its aesthetic, combining strains of the Far East with a Western industrial look. Be sure to have a meal in their restaurant, one of the best in St. Pauli.
Book your Vueling to Hamburg and revel in a district with possibly the liveliest night life in Europe.
Text by Oriol Rodríguez
16 March, 2017