HALF BAR, HALF CLUB
Is it a bar, is it a club? Even Cologne locals don’t always know the answer to this question. Examples of this new dance-bar concept are omnipresent; nowhere else will you find as many nightlife hybrids as in Cologne. And they all offer wellmixed drinks and tunes in a cosy atmosphere until the early hours. As well as the Barracuda Bar, the mother of all hybrids, the Tausend Bar, and Zum Scheuen Reh are all worth incorporating into your bar/ club crawl.
Tausend Bar: Aachener Strasse 57, www.facebook.com/tausendbarCGN
Zum Scheuen Reh: Hans-Böckler- Platz 2, zum-scheuen-reh.de
Barracuda Bar: Bismarckstrasse 44, www.facebook.com/barracudabarkoeln
An integral part of the neighbourhood for almost 30 years, Sixpack is one of the city’s cult bars. The long and narrow establishment is meanwhile legendary: every day, at any hour, whatever state you’re in, this is the place to come. As night turns into morning, the bar turns into a dating hotspot for lonely hearts. But if you want to look good in front of potential lovers, you should watch out when entering: because the door to the street opens inwards but the inner door to the bar opens outwards, the uninitiated will awkwardly get stuck in the broom-cupboard-sized space in between. Here’s the trick: keep the outer door open with your foot and open the inner door with your hand. But you might find yourself stuck anyway: the bar is jam-packed every weekend.
Aachener Strasse 33, www.facebook.com/SIXPACK.Bar.Cologne
The newest member of Cologne’s nightlife scene is Helios37 at Heliosstrasse 37. With the established venues Underground and Heinz Gaul as direct neighbours, the club is located in Ehrenfeld’s Bermuda triangle. A real highlight is its custom-made 3D lighting system: the four-wall and ceiling- height visualisations are a must-see for any dancefloor veteran.
Heliosstrasse 37, www.facebook.com/Helios37.de
An old scrap yard opposite the city’s main brothel — yes, this place is as surreal as it sounds. Urban outdoor eldorado Odonien on Hornstrasse regularly draws partygoers in their droves. Artist and free-thinker Odo Rumpf uses the place as an open-air atelier and workshop, which explains why you’ll regularly spot his latest artworks, such as tall metal sculptures in the middle of gutted car wrecks. Commerce, art and social projects are closely interwoven here. As well as noteworthy techno and house raves, exciting events far from the mainstream regularly take place. Dancing the night away at Odonien until the sun comes up is a Cologne experience that everyone should have at least once in their lives.
Hornstrasse 85, www.facebook.com/odonien
This club under Cologne-West train station is one of the stars on the local scene. An impressive feature is its first-class sound system that is perfectly calibrated so you can enjoy the booming techno without having to shout into the ears of the people your fellow partygoers. Gewölbe is even renowned outside the city for its excellent bookings: from the legendary DJs of old to contemporary tastemakers down to the hottest newcomers — there’s simply no getting around this first-rate club. In the words of booker Shumi: “We’re the club for serious techno shit.”
Hans-Böckler-Platz 2, gewoelbe.net
CLUB BAHNHOF EHRENFELD & YUCA
This neighbourhood’s hotspots include sister clubs CBE and YUCA, located directly under the arches of Ehrenfeld train station. International live shows are just as much the order of the day here as sweaty party nights. The focus is on the diversity of urban sub-cultures, including everything from jazz to Naija pop. Club Bahnhof Ehrenfeld has been around since 2010 and YUCA, which stands for Your Urban Club of Arts, opened in the neighbouring arch in 2015. YUCA is only half the size of its older sibling, making it the ideal stage for newcomers. Both clubs attract artists from all over the world.
Bartholomäus-Schink-Strasse 65/67, cbe-cologne.de
(by Ida-Sophie Rühl)