A Tale Of Two Stages

One of the mysteries at this year’s Reeperbahn Festival was why the two stages on the Spielbudenplatz had hardly any bands on them.

Frehn Hawel, PR and press manager for event co-promoter Karsten Jahnke, said the square has become something of a white elephant since being tidied up three years ago.

"For a long time it used to be a wasteland with small shacks and was surrounded by old discotheques that seemed to look very tempting for drug dealers," he explained.

The city authorities eventually cleared the area and the result is an open square that seems to have no particular purpose.

It has hosted shows, including one in the ’90s with Smashing Pumpkins, although they were far from regular events.

The city authorities decided to make something of the area, which has clubs including Schmidt’s Tivoli and The Docks among the buildings that run along one side, which prompted front-page discussions in the daily Hamburg papers.

With a seemingly limitless budget, the city fathers responsible for building and architecture contacted the artist Jeff Koons to create some suggestions to fancy up the place a bit.

Koons favoured the idea of two building cranes each having sculptures dangling from them, an idea that caused more newspaper stories before it was passed over.

In 2005 the city worked with energy giant Vattenfall to bring some new life to the place, resulting in the building of two stages that can be moved together by sliding them along a railway that runs the length of the Spielbundenplatz.

Unfortunately, the new tenants paying top dollar for housing to be in the revamped St. Pauli area where the Reeperbahn is situated complained about the noise after every concert.

Last year popular German band Tomte kicked off the first Reeperbahn Festival by playing Spielbundenplatz, but there were so many complaints before the event that the council limited the noise level to 80 decibels.

"The band was so quiet that you could stand in the middle of the square and have a chat without raising your voice," Hawel recalls.

Hawel said he has "no idea" why city authorities aren’t putting the new Beatles monument on the square.

It’s being built on the opposite side of the square to the clubs, in the mouth of the road junction that links The Reeperbahn to Grosse Freiheit.