The Ratinger Straße, © Markus Luigs

Stone im Rat­inger Hof

Mi­cro­cosm of the mu­sic scene

“Although the Ratinger Hof really was a tiny venue, you knew that when you performed there, played a concert in the Hof, that you’d somehow made it. It might sound absurd. But that’s often how it was”, explains Gabi Delgado, singer and text writer from the electronic music band DAF, who today performs as a solo electro/techno artist. Few clubs are so shrouded in legend and are so connected to the emergence of an entire pop scene as the Ratinger Hof. This small club with its bright neon lights became the centre of the Düsseldorf music and art scene from the end of the 1970s. Here, performances by early punk bands Male and Charley’s Girls inspired others to take up playing themselves. Here, electronic pioneers such as Liaisons Dangereuses or DAF developed their raw aesthetic. Here, Der Plan and the Fehlfarben, for example, invented German-language pop texts using a mixture of poetry, Dadaism and double meaning. Within the Ratinger Hof environment, an independent label that defined a genre, Ata Tak, was created, and suddenly, in the early 1980s, hits such as the ska song “Ein Jahr (Es geht voran)” by Fehlfarben emerged from the Ratinger Hof scene. Artists from the Kunstakademie were regular guests, and they were influenced by the punks, as the punks were by them. The book by Rüdiger Esch, “Electri_City”, describes many of these most important moments. It is incredible to find out how small this highly influential scene actually was, and how often the bands who played on one night returned as members of the audience. And even today, there are big differences in the way this scene is perceived. For some, the Ratinger Hof is the real birthplace of innovative, independent German-language rock and punk music. For others, the memory of the conflict-prone atmosphere within the scene is stronger. As Jürgen Engler, who at that time was a member of Male, explains: “With the Ratinger Hof, we had the CBGB of Düsseldorf. In the old city, everything was concentrated into a microcosm in which the whole world met and forged plans. At first, it was like having a home outside. But there was also an extreme level of competitiveness in the scene. I don’t know where that came from. There was a lot of sneering and there wasn’t much collaboration. I think it’s because the scene overall was pretty German: this competitiveness, this snide attitude, this wanting to be part of an elite, and criticising others. It also destroyed quite a lot.” Perhaps it was these tensions in the Ratinger Hof that triggered so much creativity, but which also meant that by the mid-1980s, the great years of the Ratinger Hof had already come to an end. Today, the building has changed. At the historic site, you’ll now find an alternative club with occasional punk concerts.

Further Information:
Stone im Ratinger Hof
Ratinger Str. 10, 40213 Düsseldorf

Campino, © Paul Ripke

Campino on the Rat­inger Hof