The octagon will return to Germany for UFC Hamburg on the 3rd September, 2016 at the Barclaycard Arena, the fourth time the UFC has visited Deutschland. Zuffa are really trying their best to ‘break’ Germany as a viable territory, being as it is a wealthy European country. Add to that MMA is now allowed on German TV (this card is the first that will actually be broadcast live in Germany), and it’s understandable that all the stops are being pulled out to put on a banger of a card.
Our Teutonic cousins are being spoilt, owing to the lack of name recognition native talent (Dennis Siver is their most famous fighter FFS!), there’s a veritable smorgasbord of top-tier Eurotrash set to compete. There’s a heavy Scandinavian slant, with the likes of Gustafsson on the bill alongside Cage Warriors alumni Nicolas Dalby and Jack Hermansson. Heck, even Brad Pickett is making the trip!
Tickets are still available and start from about £30, whilst return flights to Hamburg will set you back about £100 – that’s a significantly cheaper than a meh seat at a UFC event in jolly old Blighty. With that in mind, a road trip is an intoxicating proposition – as is Hamburg, which is probably the most fucked up place I’ve ever been to in my life! It even makes Stoke-on-Trent look pedestrian!
There’s a lot of history to the place, with churches… yadda yadda yadda – you’re reading this because you like watching people try to knock each other unconscious in a cage – you’re not a culture vulture, you’re a thrill seeker!
The Beatles fell in love with Hamburg in the 60s, taken with the visceral decadence of the nightlife, and understandably so. In a former life, I used to work with touring rock bands and the appeal of Hamburg is obvious. It really is a city of sin. The Reeperbahn is the central hub of all that is good (and bad) about Hamburg that needs to be seen to be believed.
The Reeperbahn is a mile long strip of road that is roughly comprised of the following, in this order: BAR / SEX SHOP / WEAPONS SHOP / CIGARETTE VENDOR / SEX SHOP / PIZZA SHOP / BAR / SEX SHOP etc etc. It really is the sort of place where you want to take a really thorough bath after visiting.
The bars are actually pretty fantastic, reasonably cheap with decent booze, it’s the rest of it that will make your eyes pop out on storks. The main strip is swamped with street walking sex workers, who are very aggressive. At a crossing, I was nearly pushed into the oncoming traffic by a lady who shoved me hard in the back. When I turned around to see what had happened, she said, verbatim, “You wanna fuck me? Are you a man or a mouse?” – a tip to avoid a drawn out altercation in this scenario is to talk a foreign language, French or something, as generally most customers will speak either English or German (go figure!).
Even if you’re not a night owl, I’d still recommend a visit – in the daytime, it’s no less messed up. The cold light of day is very sobering, seeing the local police window shopping for scatological porn films, and groups of teenage girls examining rubber fists for girth. This is all before lunch.
On the subject of lunch, there are plenty of reasonable restaurants dotted around the Reeperbahn, with most tastes catered for. I have very fond memories of drunken nights eating decent grub just off the main road in Hamburg. If I recall correctly, there’s quite a high proportion of Italian eateries in the area, but it might just be that one of the few words I know in German is knoblauch, which means garlic. The other is ‘du bist schwul?’ which roughly translates to ‘can you help me?’.
The final ‘must-see’/avoid is the Herbertstraße, which is a closed off street, filled exclusively with brothels. It is forbidden for women or minors to enter. Popular with sex tourists who are jaded with Amsterdam, it’s a road with floor-to-ceiling glass shopfronts, but behind the windows are women in their underwear.
Now, I’m not really keen on this sort of thing at all, far from it in fact (I’m one of those ‘what’s the point of ring girls in the 21st century?’ types). My first experience of the Herbertstraße happened as soon as I arrived in Hamburg. The tour manager, used to rock bands wanting a potted history of Hamburg, took us there as part of his explanation of the area. It was mid-afternoon, and blissfully unaware of what sort of place it was, I walked in not knowing what to expect. The first thing I saw was a woman who was the spit of Rose West, in ice-white bra and panties, and I challenge even the most ardent pervert to maintain tumescence.
My only other visit to Herbertstraße was after a night of heavy drinking with a guitar tech who was leaving the touring party halfway through. As it was a leaving drinks, everyone was out to see off our friend. It also happened to be a Sunday night, so the bars weren’t as bustling as they usually are. Just after midnight, we decided to go back to our hotel, but the lad wanted one last look at Herbertstraße before home. Again, in the very first window was a sight that singed my retinas, hopefully never to be repeated.
A lady in her thirties, in black underwear, was sitting on a high backed wicker chair, disinterestedly reading a recipe book. Beneath her, laid out in the shop window, was a completely naked man wearing a gimp mask. His flaccid penis is being gently kicked by the bookworm. At the time I was thinking, ‘that’ll set him up for the working week’.
UFC Hamburg is set to take place on 3rd September 2016 at the Barclaycard Arena.
Made in Dagenham and raised by vvolves. The original (and best) mixed martial piss artist.