When most people think of Hamburg, I think the first things that come to mind are the giant ships and boats docked at the port, the city’s gray and damp atmosphere, and the city’s numerous canals and bridges. But what surprised me the most about Hamburg was the one thing I didn’t consider at all: music.
Usually, when I imagine cities with well-known music presence, cities like New York, Vienna, Los Angeles, and London come to mind. Nevertheless, after living six months in the Hanseatic city, I can confidently say that Hamburg has so much to offer for music lovers of all genres.
From Orchestra to Jazz: The Elbphilharmonie
This blog post would not be complete without mentioning the Elbphilharmonie, one of Hamburg’s most well-known attractions and site to one of Hamburg’s biggest and most architecturally-intriguing concert halls. Located in the city’s Hafencity district just on the water, visitors can explore and experience music ranging from classical piano and orchestral compositions to contemporary and jazz music. The experience of the Elbphilharmonie, or Elphi, is one of great excitement and is sure to be something you won’t forget if you ever find yourself in Hamburg. Nevertheless, just be sure to purchase tickets on time, as the concert hall is one of Hamburg’s most popular and well-known attractions.
The Funk at LeFonque
One of the most interesting and one of my favorite bars in Hamburg thus far has been LeFonque, a small, dimly lit bar full of funk (obviously) and passion. Located in the city’s hip and trendy district, Sternschanze, the bar stands out among the rest. With its striking scarlet walls on the outside and dim, yet cozy atmosphere on the inside, one may be pleasantly surprised when they enter to hear the casual yet rhythmic beats, which reverberate around the bar. The live music from the DJs set a calming and, well, funky mood for all who enter, making you feel as if you have been transported back in time.
Though of course there are other just as interesting and exciting bars around Hamburg, LeFonque remains one of my favorites due solely to its music choice. Coming from the suburbs, I honestly had not been exposed to so much musical variety until recently, and I have come to seriously appreciate how small business cafes, restaurants, and bars invest in live performers, singers, and DJs to create a space where customers can take a break from the overplayed songs on the radio and personal playlists.
The Reeperbahn: Music At Every Corner
If you ever find yourself in Hamburg on a Friday night, the Reeperbahn is the place to be if you are in need of some dancing and music. Located in the city’s red-light district, St. Pauli, the Reeperbahn, is a popular street known for being a hub of the city’s nightlife. Neon signs, fast food stores, and loads of shops line the streets of the St. Pauli district. Though it can often grow crowded on the weekends, there truly is a little bit of something for everyone on the Reeperbahn. From bars that blast 90s rock music to clubs that play guilty pleasure songs from Britney Spears, no one should ever feel like their musical cravings can’t be quenched.
Techno, one of the genres that Germany is particularly fond of and known for, is also relevant and alive in the city. Though most people immediately think of Berlin when they think of techno, Hamburg’s techno clubs have drawn in visitors not just from around the country, but from other neighboring lands as well. People travel far and wide to simply experience the beats and rhythm that techno DJs have to offer. Though I know that techno is not as common or as popular in the United States, I have come to enjoy how different and at times, relaxed, it is to experience such a different type of music with those who know it well.
I think most of us agree that music is a big part of our lives. We all have that one song that tears us up every time we hear it or that one song we can’t just help to sing in the car on long rides. Though I am guilty of listening to the same song 50 times in a row over and over again, I am glad I was able to broaden my horizons and try different types of music genres while abroad. What we listen to in the States, or at least what is considered “typical,” looks a bit different in Hamburg, and honestly, I’m really happy about that, and I hope that I can continue to expand my musical horizons even after my time on exchange is over.