FOOTBALL, TECHNO & THE SINFUL MILE: GOLDIEROCKS' GUIDE TO HAMBURG

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The DJ and presenter lived Hamburg life to the fullest for two days. Here's what went down...

Hamburg may be famous for stag do’s, 50p neon shots and Reeperbahn’s red-light district, but delve beneath that stuff and you’ll find a techno scene to rival Berlin’s. The same rules apply – open door, meaning clubs open 10pm Friday and close Monday morning. There’s a really strong, creative scene here, which is visible everywhere from the dynamic street art to the bars that line the waterways, and even in their football teams.



Everywhere you look in Hamburg you’re surrounded by water: picturesque lakes, industrial canals by the converted warehouses of Spiecherstadt and, my favourite, ‘the beach’ on the banks of the River Elbe. Don’t be fooled by the tourist trap steamboats; jump on a local transport ferry and spend the afternoon with sand between your toes. During summer this place comes to life with live bands, DJ’s and beach parties. Nip to the Latin Quarter for Portuguese tapas in the pretty tree-lined streets and be sure to tick off the Elbe Tunnel, one of Europe’s first underwater tunnels that you can walk through and feel like you’re in an aquatic music video.

No trip to Hamburg would be complete without a visit to Reeperbahn, one of Europe’s most infamous red-light districts and one-time home to The Beatles. But ‘the most sinful mile’ is not all hookers and strip clubs. Fill up at The Bird first – a punk rock joint, waiters covered in tattoos, serving the greasiest New York-style burgers I’ve ever had (they’re honestly amazing). Do an obligatory pose next to the KaiserKeller and Grose Freiheit 36, the live music venue where the Beatles used to play and where the likes of Damon Albarn and Lenny Kravitz still come to pay homage. Salute the Beatles-Platz (a sculpture of the Fab Four by the notorious DollsHouse club) and then head down the road to Baalsaal while taking in the neon strip lights, brazen brothels and seedy windows. Baalsaal is more my kind of vibe: a red-lit techno basement club with lots of dark corners, showcasing many of the Berlin artists on their record label. 



It’s Saturday and we head to the district of St Pauli – famed for their iconic football team. I’m not a soccer kind of girl, by any means, but this was a unique, fun experience. The crowd are wild. It feels like being at a heavy metal concert – fans dressed in gothic leather and bullet belts, waving huge skull and cross bone flags. Rock music is blasting out between halves, venders selling gluewhein and tankards of beer. For a low level club, the fans pour so much effort into the games. They let off homemade confetti cannons and hype up each other with tribal drums and megaphones. After the match we spill out with the fans onto the streets of St Pauli, everyone with a positive and uplifted attitude (despite losing the match). We head to one of the many lo-fi cafes for some lunch. We pick ‘Jim Burrito’, famed for their luche libre wrestling wallpaper and next level quasidas. 



Before heading off to meet one of Hamburg’s most notorious deep house DJs, ‘Me & my monkey’, we stroll mere minutes from Generator to Lange Reihe for Mai Thai’s and traditional baked haddock and potatoes. Although it was sketchy back in the day, it’s now a rather trendy upscale area full of cocktail bars, Asian restaurants and gay bars and is home to the annual Christopher Street Day Parade. 

Cabs are cheap and efficient so we whiz around the city hopping from club to club. Astra Strube is a tiny techno club under the railway arches. The walls are lined with tin foil (I think as some kind of kooky attempt at sound proofing) and the small bar is smokey and filled with effortlessly cool twenty-somethings dancing and snogging. Pal is the new hyped secret spot: minimal glitch-tech under simple red lights. Then to The Golden Pudel for sunrise. It’s a notorious abandoned house on the river, covered floor to ceiling in graffiti, playing warped dubstep and techno. It gets pretty weird in there – punky, trashy, eerie even.

Stagger out at dawn the next morning for breakfast at the infamous Sunday fish market – that is, if you can stomach it. Local families are in high spirits, drinking pitchers of beer at 9am and wolfing down breaded fish sandwiches, jellied eels and sides of salmon. Let the wind blow in your hair to revive your senses, sift through the bric-a-brac stalls and wander down to the auction hall where local bands playing everything from krautrock to Jazz keep the crowds entertained. It’s a jolly, if surreal, brunch experience.



Stop at the gothic Hamburg Town Hall for a token snap, or refuel with a stein at one of the many cafes lining the square. We stop off for Sunday afternoon tea by Alster Lake (we’re in Germany after all and no one does cake like the Germans). This is where the dramatic bathing beauty sculpture used to be and in the summer you can hire paddleboats or play bouls – perfect for easing the pain of the night before. 



We continue through the city to the former meatpacking district of Schanzen. It’s such a wonderful area: very colourful compared to the rest of the city, filled with community gardens, elaborate painted murals, vintage clothes shops and independent boutiques. I stop at the Selekta, maybe the most iconic reggae shop in north Germany. I test out the vinyl and purchase an old Trojan records print. We pass a huge building covered in gig posters and graffiti – ‘Rote Flora’. It’s pretty elaborate, with political and environmental slogans sprawled on the walls. Once a famed political squat, it now hosts raves and reggae gigs, with a skate park out back. Also notable are Hamburg legend ‘Oz’s tags –they’re everywhere! He’s scrawled over 120,000 around the city. He’s considered a bit of a bohemian national treasure – adding a touch of humour to an otherwise grey landscape.