The End of the Golden Pudel?

A fire last weekend may spell the end for this legendary Hamburg venue

BY Dominikus Müller in Culture Digest | 19 FEB 16

This one isn’t really a ‘highlight’, more a 'sad, dark low’ – last weekend, one of the most important clubs and cultural venues in Germany, the Golden Pudel Club in Hamburg, burnt down. The police suspect arson. The club – follow-up to the Pudel Club founded by musicians Rocko Schamoni and Schorsch Kamerun in 1988 – was a landmark institution in Germany for more than 20 years. It’s been a hub for music, arts and left-leaning alternative politics. It was a hotbed for bands, DJs and electronic music labels (e.g. Dial records), it hosted the artist-run art school Akademie Isotrop (1999-2000; where artists as diverse as Jonathan Meese, Michael Hakimi, Birgit Megerle and Susanne M. Winterling started their careers) and the adjacent Galerie Nomadenoase. In the ’90s, it served as a base for public art project Park Fiction – a communal project that managed to push for building a little park instead of office buildings. In short: Golden Pudel Club was one of those multi-faceted – and increasingly rare – places that are driven by a certain political idea and a specific (locally embedded) scene. The fire, though, came at a point when the club’s future was already uncertain. The building, owned by Schamoni and Wolf Richter and located in an area that has undergone heavy gentrification recently, was the subject of a law suit between the two owners that resulted in the club being put up for compulsory sale last April. It’s not clear yet how and if the club will go on. Today, there will be demonstration in Hamburg, fighting, amongst other things, for ‘permanently securing the building and ground in an non-commercial form’. Hopefully, there’s a future for Pudel – not any future, though, but one true to the spirit of the place. It would be sadly missed.

Dominikus Müller is a freelance writer based in Berlin.