The idea that Leipzig is empty because it’s summertime is simply absurd. Don’t you see all the people sauntering around during the day and lounging on the grass? The thing is that they seem to hide somewhere at night. And, as far as I could see, it’s not out in Plagwitz Hypewitz.
Two Fridays ago, I felt like a desperate auntie who doesn’t get out much. I was running around Hypewitz with Harald, Daniel and Stew, trying to find a hot hangout spot after the free alcohol at the TiMMi website launch party dried up. I must say results were mixed at best.
I wanted to go to Noch Besser Leben because I’d heard so much about it, and sit outside because it was a nice night. But almost as soon as we arrived there, a waitress told everyone to go inside. Guess we were being too loud for the gentry. It wasn’t even midnight, for fuck’s sake.
Why move to Hypewitz, gentry, instead of Schleu├čig, if your sensitive little ears can’t stand the sound of Feierabend?
But then again, vibrant it wasn’t, that Friday night in Hypewitz. So maybe people are moving there now for the peace and quiet it comparatively provides. The liveliest action we found were the little groups of people sitting on the street drinking beers bought from the Sp├Ąti. More-or-less quietly.
Which is not to say we didn’t enjoy the beer garden at our next stop, Felsenkeller. I liked both the feel and the look of the place, and the gin tonic I had wasn’t bad for my taste. But besides the pleasant, humorous conversation with my buddies, it didn’t really excite me, either.
Then Stew left. And Daniel gave up on the evening when Harald and I insisted on trying to find a hot and hopping club in Hypewitz, and came up empty. The abandoned buildings looked even more abandoned, and creepily cool, I must admit.
Look, wouldn’t it be nice if this [side] street was filled with bars and clubs,” Harald said. But it looked dead.
We thought we detected a ray of hope at Elipamanoke, but the music emanating from there was deceptive. The place was closed, and for some reason they’d left their speakers on with techno. I preferred to think, rather, that there was a super awesome secret party there to which Harald and me hadn’t been invited.
Next up was Dr. Seltsam – a bike shop by day and bar by night. Harald and I were greeted by a bar brawl and rushed right out; but the small place was actually crowded, and in our desperation to find some action, any action, we went right back in once we saw no one had been killed. It was hot in there for sure, temperature-wise, and also it was the hottest place, coolness-wise, that we found in Hypewitz that night.
We wanted to keep going as late as possible.
When most of the places we walked by looked closed as Karl Heine Stra├če grew ever darker, we started asking people where the action actually was right now, please. Some guys pointed us to Westwerk. There had been some sort of event in the factory-like art space and they had music and were selling alcoholic beverages. The bartender was smiley and generous with my glass of wine, and the atmosphere was pleasant for sitting and having deep convos.
It really felt like the end of the night. There were a total of five people in the venue at the time.
You might say, “Oh, just wait, it gets better after the summer when people are not on vacation anymore.” I’ve been waiting for four years. I wait til it gets cooler out to see the throbbing crowds – maybe they don’t like high temperatures at night, these northerners – but they never come, because it gets pretty fucking cold pretty fast. And then even most of the bicycles go underground, deep into the WGs (shared flats) with their parties you never know about unless you’re lucky enough to meet the right hipsters at the right time.
I should’ve known that I never find the perfect night when I try.
The best Fridays in Hypewitz, or anywhere in Leipzig, have been the ones unplanned. This city is ripe for random encounters, random conversations. And that’s what happened yesterday.
One thing I particularly like about Hypewitz is the mixture of art exhibits with grit and street art and bars. So yesterday afternoon, I went to an art opening at the ├╝ber cool Kunstkraftwerk (more on that in a future post), and when my friends took too long to show up, I left and started walking up Karl Heine.
I then happened upon a passage with a lot of street art, across from Westwerk. I walked along the path and found a garden – “Hello and welcome to the Free Garden,” the sign said in German. It isn’t just any garden, though. There are sofas, tables and office chairs for you to freely hang out.
Well, guess what – no one but me was hanging out there, although the heat had become totally bearable by that time. At some point a dude came in on his bike, picked up some things and watered some plants.
Yes, you can still find these little oases of makeshift alternative in Hypewitz. That’s moving more and more to Leipzig east, though.
And make no mistake about it: Leipzig Hypezig is NOT “the new Berlin.” Not when I’ve had to spend many a late night at FlowerPower (S├╝dvorstadt), feeling like not only a desperate but also alcoholic auntie, because there was nothing else open around anymore.
Don’t even get me started on S├╝dvorstadt, please, where I moved thinking I’d be in nightlife heaven. Most nights after 10 you can barely see anyone out on Karli (Karl Liebknecht Stra├če).
In Hypewitz yesterday, alone and on foot, I was about to go home before the night even started. But then a sign outside Tacoholics regarding a cocktail on special caught my eye. I’m really glad the place is not closing down, although the rent became very high and the old owners left.
I went inside and asked about drink specials, just to see. Phillip, the guy behind the counter, was so nice to me that I decided to stay and both drink and eat whatever he recommended. I didn’t regret my decision, and do recommend the whiskey sour and taco-less burrito.
Also, Phillip is very good at funny, random, sarcastic convos and telling travel anecdotes. Ask about how he hit his head while diving in Italy, and the old sooothsayer-like doctor he went to see.
Then my friends came, and a wave of silliness took us over as we left the restaurant. I have no idea where our torrent of random jokes came from. We were laughing all evening, from Tacoholics in Plagwitz to Pilot in the Gottschedstra├če area. All of a sudden, the location didn’t matter anymore.
Come to think of it, that hadn’t mattered so much the previous Friday, either. It was still fun, and my belly also hurt from laughing at some points during our failed attempts at partying all night.
It’s this sort of born and adoptive Leipzigers who make Leipzig great. They get and embrace the beauty of the random.