Beatfestival, © Tourismus NRW e.V.

Reck­ling­hausen: Vestland­halle

Show­place of the Beat Move­ment

At the be­gin­ning of the 1960s, skiffle and the beat from Liv­er­pool that arose from it spread from the Reep­er­bahn in Ham­burg to the fur­ther­most corners of the coun­try. Sud­denly, young people every­where were grabbing hold of in­stru­ments and found­ing bands that were in­ten­ded to sound like the Beatles, the Stones or the Kinks. They were as­sisted by highly com­mit­ted church­men, such as Pas­tor Wich­mann in Gelsen­kirchen-Buer, who with his ?temple? that he set up in the dis­trict cre­ated a centre of the move­ment un­til the mid-1960s, cre­at­ing up to 1,500 bands . The most im­port­ant fig­ure of the beat move­ment in the ?Ruhr­pott? re­gion, as well as Pas­tor Wich­mann, was the youth work­er Kurt Os­ter in Reck­ling­hausen. In the Vestland­halle, he ran beat fest­ivals in place of the tea dances and youth balls mainly or­gan­ised by the city ad­min­is­tra­tion that had been hos­ted there be­fore. He agreed with the of­fi­cial youth wel­fare of­fices that mak­ing ?nice? skiffle and beat mu­sic (com­pared to rauc­ous Rock?n?Roll) was an activ­ity worth sup­port­ing and an ef­fect­ive meas­ure to coun­ter­act youth crime. So it was that the beat fest­ivals were or­gan­ised in the Vestland­halle by a ?youth sup­port work­ing group?, which in­cluded edu­ca­tion­al­ists, par­ents and vo­lun­teers. These fest­ivals were hugely suc­cess­ful. It was not un­usu­al for over 100 beat groups to play in front of thou­sands of young fans over a week­end. As a res­ult, Reck­ling­hausen be­came fondly known by its iron­ic name, the ?Ger­man Liv­er­pool?. Kurt Os­ter also fostered con­tacts with Ham­burg and or­gan­ised a com­pet­i­tion between bands from the Ruhr­pott and Ham­burg (in which the Ruhr re­gion bands were out­played). Only a small num­ber of bands ever got bey­ond the status of an am­a­teur group. The most suc­cess­ful were the Ger­man Blue Flames, who after win­ning the band com­pet­i­tion in the Vestland­halle twice ap­peared sev­er­al times on the TV pro­gramme ?Beat-Club? and re­leased nu­mer­ous re­cords. The main hall, with space for 2,500, is still used for con­certs and events today. The large out­door area is used every so of­ten for fairs, car­ni­val or cir­cus events. And it is fas­cin­at­ing to take a look at the hall, which is now 60 years old, which has with­stood all the changes in trends like a blue-and-white box. In the in­ter­im, the ad­dress has changed, and rightly so: today, the ven­ue is no longer on Hern­er Strasse, but at Kurt-Os­ter-Strasse 2.

Fur­ther in­form­a­tion
Kurt-Os­ter-Straße 2, 45659 Reck­ling­hausen

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