Saturday, September 11, 2010

St Pauli District

September, 1960

Let's take a little walk around the world the Beatles found themselves in circa 1960.

St Pauli was (and is) a district within the city limits of Hamburg Germany.  The main street through it is called the Reeperbahn.  This was the street where respectable people would congregate in the evening for entertainment.  In Europe, it is called "Cafe Society", where people just gather to chat with friends, sip coffee (or something stronger) and just watch the passing parade.  That was the Reeperbahn.

The side streets in the St Pauli district were somewhat more sinister, where you would be more likely to encounter drunken sailors, pimps, prostitutes and small time crooks.  One of those side streets was called the "Grosse Freiheit" or Great Freedom (one block to the west is the "Kleine Freiheit" - I'll bet you can figure out the translation yourself).  About 300 yards north of the Reeperbahn, on the Grosse Freiheit stood the small club called the Indra, owned by Bruno Koschmider, where the Beatles were developing a following among the denizens of St Pauli.  Somewhere around this time, they discovered that the German audiences really loved it when the band would "mak schau" (put on a show).  They became more animated on stage, jumping around to the appreciative cheers of the small audiences.

Another couple of hundred yards north and around the corner on Paul-Roosen Strasse, stood the Bambi Kino, the tenth run movie house where the Beatles crashed between performances.

To operate a business in St Pauli, one had to be tough.  Alan Williams tells the story of a visit he paid to Herr Koschmider in the office in back of one of his clubs.  The meeting was interrupted by a bouncer, who informed the owner of some trouble brewing in the front of the house.  Herr Koschmider pulled open a desk drawer, grabbed a small billy-club and excused himself.  After some semblance of order had been restored, he returned, wiping the blood from the kosch and picked up the meeting where he left off.

Google Earth...

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