This year Ruhrgebiet, an industrious region in western Germany, is Kulturhaupstadt (Culture Capital) at Ruhr 2010, an event created to celebrate the cultural and historical offerings of the cities in the area, including Dortmund, Essen, Duisburg, and Bochum.
In Dortmund—ACHTUNG: Weltreisende Punks, hör zu! This is the most punk place I’ve ever seen outside of the East Village. (Ha ha.) The bar is in Dortmund, called HirschQ, and subtitled “Asozial aus Tradition” (“asocial by tradition”). From the bottled Astra beer (brewed in Hamburg and popular with hip young people—think about PBR’s place in NYC only imagine PBR tasting like actual beer ) to the snarling visages of blue-haired, overweight young people, to the punkrock and skacore blaring on the ancient sound system, the curling blue cigarette smoke chokes your raucous, shrill punk laughter in direct rebellion against German anti-smoking laws. As my guide explained to me, smoking is not allowed in public places any more, but, as my guide explained further, you can’t really tell a German what to do. (Most bars still allow you to smoke, usually through a loophole in the law where they classify themselves as “Smoking Lounges” even though it’s obvious to everyone they’re just your average dive bar on the corner.)
The atmosphere of HirschQ is great, though, loud, messy, broken, dirty, a real rat’s nest of a place. Back in my high school days, “touring” with my skacore band, the venerable and popular Jake and the Phat Men played in many places with a similar aesthetic. It brought back many adolescent memories of undirected anger and antisocial behavior, of piss, of vinegar, of hormones. It’s has a certain beauty—go here for the music if nothing else.
On the way out, there’s a döner stand with döner for sale, of course, but also beer. I stopped there to get one more for the road, for the walk back to the apartment. In Germany they have no open container laws, so this option is available to those of you who can’t wait for the next bar. Hansa Export cost 60 cents for a half-liter bottle—not too bad, I thought, but Christoph, my guide, said it was a little pricey, about twice what it would have cost in a store. It’s really a nice way to walk around town, with a beer bottle in hand, and beer flows here like water, it rains beer, the rivers gurgle and spit pure beer, so it never runs dry, the bottle in your hand need never be empty as long as there is another kiosk or imbiss or döner stand nearby, and there always is.
By: Ben Britz