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Photo: Dörthe Boxberg
Photo: Dörthe Boxberg

A day in the life of Gregor Schwellenbach

|   Urban and culture

I often enjoy strolling along the west-east axis

Gregor Schwellenbach is a pianist who works in theatre and has reinterpreted Cologne minimal techno on the piano.

I like to start the day with a doppio at Formula Uno, a small coffee bar in the south of the city, where everybody, including me, seems to be embracing Italian clichés in an attempt to live the dolce vita! Cologne was, after all, founded by the Romans.

Then I would practice the piano or do some office work. I particularly enjoy meeting the guys at Kompakt, the fabulous techno gang who are also my booking and publishing team. With their office, music studios and a public record shop, they live and breathe true independency and I can even buy some vinyl after creative meetings or hanging out in their office kitchen. Once hooked on buying music, I might visit more record stores, browsing Brazilian fusion reissues at Groove Attack, rare Japanese avant-garde at A-Musik or just go digging around at Nunk or Parallel.

I often enjoy strolling along the westeast axis: I begin at Brüsseler Platz where I might stop for a chat with friends, colleagues and neighbours, then head up along the always-crowded Ehrenstrasse and Breite Strasse shopping streets, passing the offices of WDR, the regional public broadcasting station where you might spot local celebrities doing their thing, before ending up in the heart of Cologne: the Cathedral and the Rhine.

It hurts me to see how many people think a padlock is an appropriate symbol for love, but I still pass by the many “love locks”, affixed to the Hohenzollern Bridge because everything I need for a perfect sunset can be found on the other side: open skies, a beautiful view and concrete steps to sit on. The Rhine boulevard has it all, and, like a hospital waiting room, it’s hipster-free.

If there are gallery openings, Ebertplatz is a good choice for the evening. The mish-mash of brutalist architecture and the art crew mingling with homesick immigrants in the African bar next door makes for the most vibrant, feisty atmosphere! But I also like to end the evening at Roxy, a place where you can dance to DJ legends from Detroit in a club that is so small that by the time the morning comes, I have smiled at everyone on the dancefloor.