“England’s Dreaming,” Jon Savage’s big story about British youth cultures and the break of Punk ends early in 1980 with the words “History is made by those who say “No” and punk’s utopian heresies remain its gift to the world.” One of the most efficacious of those heresies to this day, is the idea of self-empowerment, of “DIY” (“Do It Yourself”). This takes us right into the middle of the history of the Kulturzentrum Schlachthof Wiesbaden – a history that started in December 1994, 14 years after Savage declared the end of Punk, and that is based on that defiant DIY, which in this context means one thing: Pluck up the courage to get started. The reason being that Wiesbaden was thought to be overdue for a cultural centre, that the cultural darkness was no longer bearable, and that the false alternatives of endless lament or leaving town were unacceptable. Quite a bit has happened since.
Today, in its 15th year of existence, the Schlachthof is one of the biggest organizers of concerts and cultural events in the Rhine-Main region – and for quite a while, it has been more than just a “soft” location factor when it comes to the places of (pop) culture that Wiesbaden has to offer.
In spite of its growth, the Schlachthof has never lost its integrity. In addition to several event halls with capacities between 300 and 1,800 people, it now also includes a restaurant with garden pub, which is called “60/40”. In the middle of the “cultural park” growing around the Schlachthof, it caters to the gastronomic well-being of its guests, even outside of regular event hours.
Other than the Schlachthof venue, the Kulturzentrum, which still operates as a collective, now also organizes the Wiesbaden Folklore Festival (which takes place yearly during the last weekend of August and is attended by more than 20,000 people) as well as events in the Wiesbaden Kurhaus, the Wiesbaden Rhine-Main Halls, and the Offenbacher Stadthalle. Theatrical performances, flea markets, lectures, and dances from tango evenings to breakbeat nights complement the offerings. In its daily work, the 14-member full-time core of the organization is assisted by a relief staff of up to 60, comprised mostly of students.
The concert programme reads like a “Who’s Who” of contemporary pop music. It encompasses the entire “mainstream of minorities”, to use the now classic expression coined in the mid-nineties by Tom Holert and Mark Terkessidis in their study by the same name. The spectrum of artists who have been on stage here reach from hip-hop to punk to indie and electro, from reggae to hardcore, from soul to world music, and from jazz to avant-garde. The most noble mission that a cultural centre can adopt is not to bring a few voices to your ears, but rather the entire orchestra – harmonic or dissonant. In doing so, bookings have not been limited to the German market. The bookings span from Sportfreunde Stiller (who started their career here in front of a crowd of 20 and later were sold out) to The Notwist (who turned the Upper Bavarian town of Weilheim into one of the most important international music productions at the intersection of electronics and guitar), from the inventors of German hip-hop, Die Fantastischen Vier, to international artists such as the “conscious rappers” of De La Soul, as well as avant-garde acts such as the New York no-wave pioneers, Sonic Youth (to whom the Düsseldorfer Kunsthallen dedicated their very own exhibition in the spring of 2009), and At The Drive-In, who played here on the same stage as Motörhead and other metal bands. Maceo Parker, who worked with James Brown, appeared here as did the Klezmatics, one of the most exciting new klezmer bands in the world.
After all that has been said, it is not surprising to hear positive mention, from Hamburg to Los Angeles, of the Schlachthof Wiesbaden, sometimes referred to as “Weisbaden” (the author vouches for the truthfulness of this observation). The Schlachthof has become a pivotal venue for pop culture. Worldwide. So, it is only logical that it has been occupying first place in the category of “best club” in the reader charts of Germany’s most-read music magazine, “intro”‚ for several years now.
In a year, more than 300 events take place here, attracting over 100,000 visitors. And that from a draw area that, depending on the act, goes beyond the boundaries of the state of Hessen, if not the country. You will see numberplates here from Strasbourg and Paris as well as The Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland. There was even word about Australians who planned their trip to Europe around a show here at the Schlachthof. And we sure love to see those artists’ tour posters that mention these four German cities on their schedule: Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, and Wiesbaden.
After a stay in London from 1989 to 1991, the author, born in 1961, started working for the state capital Wiesbaden. In 1992, he co-founded the Kulturzentrum Schlachthof e.V. in Wiesbaden, of which he has been general manager since 1996. In 2005, he co-founded Schlachthof Kultur GmbH, of which he has been a shareholder and manager. Since 2008, he has been coach and change manager as well.
The author, born in 1973, studied law in Mainz as well as sociology, political science and philosophy in Frankfurt. Since 1997, he has been dedicated to the Wiesbaden culture and communication centre Schlachthof. In 1998, he founded Rewika Records. In 2005, he co-founded Schlachthof Kultur GmbH, being a shareholder ever since. Since 2008, he has worked for the Schlachthof as editor-in-chief and consultant in booking and marketing.