Robert Hampton

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24th October 2015

Don’t fear the Reeper
Posted by at 7.14pm | 1 response | Out and About

It amused me, recently, to see John Whittingdale give a speech at the Conservative Party conference in which he praised the success of British artists and performers. “There are no German Beatles,” he noted.

That last sentence amused me, because while the Beatles are indeed British (hailing as they do from every Tory’s favourite city, Liverpool), it was in Germany that they honed their craft. They were in Hamburg on and off for over two years, returning to the UK in 1962 with a lot more performing experience and much better prepared for the global superstardom that awaited. Hamburg airport has a quote from John Lennon on display: “I may have been born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Hamburg”. In summary, John Whittingdale is an idiot.

All of which leads into my Saturday night in Hamburg, which started at Beatles-Platz, where this cool statue of the fab four is on display.

Beatles Platz

Beatles-Platz stands at the centre of the Reeperbahn, heart of Hamburg’s nightlife, but also home to some seedy drinking dens and the city’s red light district. Is it Germany’s answer to Mos Eisley spaceport? Well… not really.

We were booked on a pub crawl through New Hamburg Tours – five different bars, with a free shot at each one, starting at 9pm and finishing just after 1am.

Boris had suggested this tour, and at first I was a little worried. A night out like this takes me out of my comfort zone somewhat. Then again, the night before I had been taking puffs from a shisha pipe. Maybe it was some left over chemicals in my system, but I was feeling quite relaxed about the whole thing. I was worried that our “crawl” would be invaded by stag parties wielding strange inflatable toys, but those fears proved unfounded, and we set off down Große Freiheit, bathed in neon light.


I couldn’t help but gaze longingly at the male stripper bar, which restricted admission to ladies only. I’m sure that’s homophobia, or sex discrimination, or something.

We started out in Bar 99 Cent, where all the drinks were €0.99. It wasn’t exactly a classy establishment, but jolly enough. I settled on Astra, the local beer, but only had time for one drink before moving on to our next bar.

The next bar was O’Brian’s, an Irish bar. Perhaps not exactly an authentic German Kneipe, but it was enjoyable.

Around the corner to the next bar, and I couldn’t help but notice various ladies in states of undress leaning out of upper floor windows. Congrats, Hamburg – you made Amsterdam look tame.

Next was Sommersalon im Klubhaus, where a jolly drag queen was pulling pints. We made smalltalk with an American visitor while enjoying another drink.

Back on the Reeperbahn proper, we ended up at another Irish bar, the Thomas Read. A young performer with an acoustic guitar was working his way through Britpop’s greatest hits.

The final place was JAMS Bar, a nightclub. It was a fairly standard place: dimly lit, loud music pumping, having to fight your way through to the bar. However, I notice it’s listed on Facebook as “Adult Entertainment” so when I checked in there I’m sure all my friends must have thought I was up to something dodgy. I definitely wasn’t… when I go to dodgy places I make sure I don’t check in anywhere.

That was the end of the pub crawl, but there was one more treat in store. We headed to Wunderbar, one of Boris’s favourite places when he lived here. It was exciting, not least when I opened up Grindr and saw that the handsome blond chap at the top of my cascade was actually sitting right opposite us.

Truth be told, though, it was nearly 2am, and we were both starting to feel tired. Hamburg’s railway system runs through the night on Friday and Saturday evenings, so one bleary-eyed S-Bahn trip later we were safely back in our hotel.

Reeperbahn S-Bahn station

So that was the Reeperbahn. Not that scary really, although it helped that I was with people who knew their way around. Definitely good to get out of my comfort zone a bit!

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One Response
  1. Pingback by Dabblin’ in Dublin « Robert Hampton
    21st December 2015 at 8:52 pm

    […] tour when we first arrived. It was with Sandeman’s, the same organisation that did the Hamburg pub crawl, so I felt in fairly safe […]