Just like Woodstock, but in Essen
Just a few areas of graffiti remain as a reminder that here, on the Papestrasse, was the home of Essen’s subculture for several decades. In 1968, when the beat wave slowly began to ebb, this was the conspiration centre for the “German Woodstock”. An illustrious group of cultural activists, including the music journalist Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser, the folk musician Bern Witthüser, the city youth worker Horst Stein and the head of the youth centre Bernhard Graf von Schmettow, organised the “Internationale Essener Songtage”, or “International Essen Song Days”. These became possibly the most important milestones in the development of an independent German rock, folk and song culture. They combine the international progressive rock music of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, who were even on the advisory council for the event, with the new experimental rock music from Germany. Eleven months before Woodstock, over 200 acts performed in front of an audience of at least 40,000 people. They included the experimentalists Amon Düül and Tangerine Dream, Inga Rumpf’s folk-rock City Preachers, the agitation rockers Floh de Cologne, and also the political singer-songwriters. However, in Essen, instead of love and peace, the political debate and the role of art in society took centre stage - subjects that from then on became a fixed element of pop history in the Ruhr Region. For almost 50 years, until it closed in 2010, the “JZE” remained a vital centre of Essen’s subculture. This is where punk, metal and music experimentation were developed.
Papestraße 1, 45147 Essen