Reeperbahn in Hamburg

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The Reeperbahn is a street in Hamburg's St. Pauli district, one of the two centres of Hamburg's nightlife and also the city's red-light district. In German it is also sometimes described as die sündige Meile (the sinful mile).


The name Reeperbahn means ropewalk, which is a place where ropes are made (Low German Reep = rope, the standard German word is Seil; Bahn= track). The street was a ropewalk in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The street, and its side streets

The street is lined with restaurants, night clubs, discotheques and bars. There are also strip clubs, sex shops, brothels, a sex museum and similar businesses. The Operettenhaus, a musical theatre, is also located at the Reeperbahn. It played Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats for many years, after that Mamma Mia!, an ABBA-musical, and now "Ich war noch niemals in New York", ("I have never been in New York") featuring hit songs by Austrian singer/songwriter Udo Jürgens. There are other theatres at the Reeperbahn (St. Pauli Theater, Imperial Theater, Schmidts Tivoli) and also several Cabarets/Varietés.

A famous landmark is the Davidwache, a police station located on the South side of the Reeperbahn at the cross street Davidstraße. Street prostitution is legal during certain times of the day on Davidstraße. The Herbertstraße, a short side street of the Davidstraße, has prostitutes behind windows waiting for customers. Since 1933, large screens block the view into Herbertstraße from the adjacent streets. Since the 1970s, there have been signs saying that entrance to the street is prohibited for women and juveniles; however, technically it is a public road which anyone may enter.

The Große Freiheit ("Great Freedom") is a cross street on the North Side with several bars, clubs and a Catholic church. In former years, several sex theatres here (Salambo, Regina, Colibri, Safari) would show live sex acts on stage. , the Safari is the only live sex theatre left in Germany. The popular table dance club Dollhouse now takes the place of the Salambo. Hotel Luxor, Hamburg's oldest brothel that had operated on this street for 60 years, was closed in 2008.

In memory of this time a Beatles-Platz was built at the cross of Reeperbahn and Große Freiheit.

Popular culture

The popular 1944 movie Große Freiheit Nr. 7 tells the story of a singer (played by Hans Albers) who works in a Reeperbahn club and falls in love with a girl played by Ilse Werner. Hans Albers and Heinz Rühmann played in the 1954 movie Auf der Reeperbahn nachts um halb eins ("On the Reeperbahn half past midnight", after an Albers' song from the 1944 movie). The title song is popular to this day and can often be heard in, or in connection with, St. Pauli. The Hans-Albers-Platz, one block south of the Reeperbahn, has a statue of Hans Albers. It was created in 1986 by the artist Jörg Immendorff who owned a bar near the Reeperbahn in the 1980s.

In 1958, Trinidadian calypso artiste, Lord Invader recorded a track entitled My Experience On The Reeperbahn. It recalls a time when he was conned by a transvestite. Reeperbahn is a 1978 song by Udo Lindenberg, to the tune of Penny lane, lamenting the decay of the entertainment there.

Reeperbahn is the name of a Swedish 80's band. Finnish artist Irwin Goodman has made a song and an album called "St.Pauli ja Reeperbahn". The street is also mentioned in the Elvis Costello song "Human Hands", in Van Morrison's song "Heavy Connection", in the Midnight Oil song "Mountains of Burma", the Sloppy Seconds song Germany from their album Destroyed and in the Runrig song "Song of the Earth". The heavy metal band Blue Cheer has a song called "Sweet Child of the Reeperbahn" on their 1991 album Dining with the Sharks. The punk band The Toy Dolls has a song titled "Caught up the Reeperbahn", first released on their 1993 album "Absurd-Ditties".

The "Reeperbahn" is often mentioned in Karen Duve's 1999 novel, "Regenroman" (English translation Entitled "Rain"). Tom Waits' 2002 release Alice contains a track called "Reeperbahn." Australian pop-punk band The Hard-Ons have a song called "Don't Fear The Reeperbahn" on their 2007 album Most People Are Nicer Than Us. Its title is a play on the Blue Öyster Cult song "(Don't Fear) The Reaper". The 2011 album I Love You Dude by electro band Digitalism features a song called Reeperbahn.

See also

  • Prostitution in Germany

External links