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Pilgrimage site of the indie scene: Gebäude 9 | Photo: Christian Faustus
Pilgrimage site of the indie scene: Gebäude 9 | Photo: Christian Faustus

From dusk till dawn

|   urban culture

Cologne’s nightlife has something for everyone


Cologne is a top address for fans of both indie and jazz



Cologne is a great address for indie fans. From songwriters to classic indie quartets down to avant-rock ensembles, many musicians stop by the city at some point. Gebäude 9, the pilgrimage site of Cologne’s alternative music scene, is located in the rear part of a meanwhile disused factory on the right bank of the Rhine in Mülheim. Almost all the big names have played here at least once on their way to the top, including Arcade Fire, Foo Fighters and LCD Soundsystem. Since the mid-90s, Gebäude 9 has been a firm fixture in Cologne’s nightlife and will remain so in the future: when it was recently threatened with closure, the club was rescued after artists and fans campaigned. King Georg in the Agnesviertel neighbourhood, on the other hand, is filling stylistic voids in the cathedral city’s music offering. The wood-panelled club-bar not only conveys the charm of bygone table-dance days in terms of its appearance, but you can also rely on its booking managers to come up with the odd obscure musical highlight. For a small admission fee, audiences have been treated to performances in this intimate setting by Ariel Pink, Banks and Thurston Moore. (Katja Peglow)

Gebäude 9, Deutz-Mülheimer Str. 127–129, 51063 Cologne,

King Georg, Sudermanstrasse 2, 50670 Cologne,


Elsewhere it would have been a predictable makeshift solution to draw the attention away from a weak line-up, but at Salon de Jazz it’s a promise of first-rate entertainment: with “Blind Dates”, Cologne-based drummer Jens Düppe is putting on a night in which the musicians don’t know who they will be sharing the stage with until their performance begins. Düppe invites well-known improvisors from Germany who, spontaneously and without preparation, make music with local names. And because this scene, which Düppe himself is a part of, is as varied as it is innovative, audiences can expect highly exciting confrontations at these “Blind Dates” nights. Beacons of the Cologne scene remain, of course, Loft in Ehrenfeld and Stadtgarten, which was recently declared a “European Centre for Jazz and Contemporary Music”. These venues have been offering a curated line-up for decades and are known to give the musicians plenty of freedom to experiment: from Gil Evans to Peter Brötzmann, Loft and Stadtgarten present the greatest jazz artists of our time while also supporting local jazz and improvisation musicians. And long may it continue. (Felix Klopotek)

Salon de Jazz, Severinskloster 3a, 50678 Cologne,

Loft, Wissmannstrasse 30, 50823 Cologne,

Stadtgarten, Venloer Str. 40, 50672 Cologne,


There’s nothing better than dancing outside as the sun comes up


Hip-hop & bass music

Bass vibrations at Club Bahnhof Ehrenfeld | Photo: Mirko PoloCologne’s hip-hop and bass music scene has been attracting attention ever since the nineties. But only since 2010 has it had a decent-sized venue where it can come together across all genres. Club Bahnhof Ehrenfeld is housed under the railway arches in the district of Ehrenfeld, meaning that both the trains and bass woofers make the building vibrate. CBE is very consciously an anti-discrimination club. There are political discussions and the bouncers are trained to overcome their own prejudices. Which is also necessary considering the wide range of music in their line-up: here you’ll find Latin trap and salsa, afro beats and baile funk, hip-hop and R&B, while in Yuca, the second club space right next door, newcomers and more experimental electronic acts take to the stage. And all generations of performers are welcome. One night you might have rapper Hayiti presenting her auto-tuned rhymes in one club, while US producer 9th Wonder performs golden era beats sampled from soul classics next door. (Christian Werthschulte)

Club Bahnhof Ehrenfeld, Bartholomäus-Schink-Str. 65–67, 50825 Cologne,


As much fun as you can have sweating it out in clubs, partying al fresco is also great. An activity that unfortunately proves somewhat difficult in Cologne, however, as in this densely populated city there’s always a neighbour who will call the “Ordnungsamt” (public order office) to complain about the noise. So Odonien on Hornstrasse can count itself lucky. Its neighbours are an abattoir, a railway line and two brothels. The guy who runs it, Odo Rumpf, exhibits his steel sculptures in the entrance area, providing a touch of culture beyond dancing and drinking. The parties, on the other hand, are organised by different techno, drum and bass and hip-hop crews from Cologne. But the DJ line-ups are secondary to the memorable experience of dancing outside as the sun comes up. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, why not head to one of the many unlicensed open-air parties in industrial estates or under Cologne’s bridges? Check the relevant Facebook groups for details. (Dominik Schmidt)

Odonien, Hornstr. 85, 50823 Cologne,

Techno & house

Old-school party people still love to reminisce about the nights that ended with a bike ride through the Gewölbe club under the Westbahnhof (Cologne-West train station), where nobody would even raise an eyebrow at the sight of a naked torso. But all that was around ten years ago now and a lot has changed since then: the formerly fragmented space with a lounge that had more of a waiting room vibe about it was replaced in 2011 with a modern club that is now both more open and intimate. The new sound system sounds amazing and its large speakers, which look a bit like French horns or trombones in each of the four corners, make you feel as if you’re dancing in the middle of a brass band orchestra. It’s not only the state-of-the-art technology that impresses at Gewölbe, however, but also the artists booked to DJ here. Shumi, who also regularly takes to the decks himself, puts together a varied line-up between house, techno and dubstep. And they also arrange their own concert series “gewölbe:live”, presenting synth pop, wave and experimental pop music acts in an unusual setting. But Gewölbe’s most important draw is the fact that the club has such a big-city, urban vibe — which is unusual in Cologne’s clubbing landscape that is dominated mostly by cosier, smaller venues. (Lennart Itzler)

Gewölbe, Hans-Böckler-Platz 2, 50672 Cologne,