Think Hibernian House, but multiply the sense of community and artistic endeavour and you are part way to getting the feel for the place I performed here in Leipzig.
The city, once part of GDR, has it’s share of abandoned buildings since Germany’s reunification. But there are incredible efforts underway here for restoration. Close to five years ago several groups of young people came to this building and put their name down for five year leases on run down apartments. The rent is free, assuming of course you are willing to roll up your sleeves and do it up.
That wasn’t a trivial task. Looters had made off with windows, grills from the heaters, anything of value. The pipes were frozen, if there at all. Over time our hosts created their homes and a vibrant arts community with it and today I had the good fortune to enjoy the results.
Our host Daniel lives on the top floor with some seven or eight others (they tore down apartment walls to have one entire floor). In the afternoon he helped me attempt a fix on my guitar, which has travelled rough – a big crack across the top and a snapped bridge pin. We got it in working order and I went downstairs and discovered that the bottom floor has been converted into a bar and venue of sorts, with lots of projectors, a PA system, wall art, crafty lamps et al.
The show had a great atmosphere… But with so many talented folk in the room (visual artists, classical musicians), I must admit to being more nervous than usual. It was a lot like playing High Tea. They helped me get through it with some sing-alongs… And I well and truly broke my one-beer-per-night rule with some long late night conversation fueled by rounds of vodka.
It was worth it.