Pride Walk and CSD - the Best Places in Europe

Summer travel recommendations by Stephan Luecke.

We know how much gays love to travel. But it doesn’t always have to be Gran Canaria and Sitges, you know. Check out these five European destinations and try out something new this summer.

Amsterdam: Venue of the Europride 2016
Hardly any other city in Europe as open-hearted, liberal and permissive as the Dutch capital. But it’s not just the diverse gay scene, coffee shops and picturesque canals that make Amsterdam this year’s hotspot for gays and lesbians: The city is the heart of Europride 2016 from 23 July until 7 August. This particular form of the CSD has been taking place in different European cities for 25 years. The parades, parties and events give it their all in order to gain international attention.

Ireland: Referendums are sexy
Well what an unforgettable explosion of joy it was when the Republic of Ireland voted to legalise same-sex marriage in mid-2015. Much has changed for the good in the Emerald Isle since then. Staunchly catholic, this once conservative country has opened up, people are becoming more tolerant, and the gay scene is gaining ground. “Turks Head, Bottom Factory, 4 Dame Lane, Soder+Ko – new parties and clubs for gays and lesbians are springing up virtually everywhere in Dublin now”, reports a 23-year-old student from the capital. “Being queer is so hot right now – just check out the vast crowds that flock to the Dublin CSD.

Åland Islands: Welcome to the “Land of the Thousand Isles”
For most gay travellers, the Åland Islands is just a white speck on the map, but the autonomous Finnish province should still be on your radar. The Swedish-speaking archipelago extends over several thousand islands and skerries, scattered halfway between Sweden and Finland. Probably the smallest and craziest CSD in the world: takes place on Åland. Every year in June, some 20,000 islanders celebrate their Pride Week with numerous parties, demonstrations and cultural events.

Berlin: The largest gay scene in the world
No other city in the world can offer a greater or more diverse gay scene than Berlin”, says historian Robert Beachy emphatically. The American’s main focus of research is the history of homosexuality in Germany. In his book “Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity” he comes to the startling realisation that being gay is a “German invention” and that Berlin was a gay paradise even during the Imperial Era. This trend – thankfully - still stands.

Oslo: A fantastically beautiful spot
Oslo is streets ahead of other northern capitals when it comes to design, architecture and the gay scene. Its amazing location by the sea, surrounded by a huge national park, also explains the extremely relaxed atmosphere of the Norwegian metropolis. Any visit to Oslo must include a visit to see Edvard Munch’s masterpiece “The Scream”. You can find it in the National Gallery. Tip: free admission on Sundays. If you want to study the work of this brilliant cult expressionist take a visit to the Munch Museum in the district of Tøyen. Tram line 12 quickly takes you from the city centre to the world-famous Vigeland Park. The sight of more than 200 sculptures, including the massive obelisk of writhing naked bodies, is absolutely awe-inspiring.

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If not Now, then When?

The members of electro punk band Egotronic have been engaging in musical hedonism for 19 years – a kind of hedonism which can increasingly be viewed as a political outcry. Their latest album Ihr seid doch auch nicht besser (You’re No Better Either) represents the zenith of this development. It’s about the erosion of the political center and the necessity of forging new alliances.

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Hamburg’s Got Groove

Hamburg’s iconic Elbphilharmonie is just as famous for its insane acoustics as it is for its programme, which weaves traditional classical music together with rock bands, festivals, and jazz — like the Scandinavian piano band Rymden, for example. On the occasion of their concert, we met the jazz trio in the so-called ‘Elphi’, where we delved into the history of the concert hall and considered, among other questions, whether jazz is the classical music of the 21st century.

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The Jack of All Trades

Dieter Meier is someone who, without exaggeration, can be described as a music legend. With the band Yello, the Swiss native became world famous in the 80s together with his colleague Boris Blank. Heard their hits like ‘Oh Yeah’ and ‘The Race’? Experimental and electronic, and a little gaga, the tunes get under your skin thanks to Dieter’s deep voice. Yello still perform today. But music is by no means Dieter’s only mode of expression: Dieter, probably the best dressed rebel of Zurich, who even earned his living as a professional gambler for a while, started working as a performance and conceptual artist in the late 60s. In 1972, he took part in Documenta 5 in Kassel, for which he installed a metal plaque at the main station with the inscription, ‘Dieter Meier will stand on this plaque on 23 March 1994 from 3pm to 4pm’ — a promise he later kept. As a creative entrepreneur and investor, Dieter has his fingers everywhere in the game. His greatest passions, however, are the worlds of culinary delights and nature, and, following from that, his farm in Argentina, where he cultivates wine, breeds cattle, and spends a lot of time. He serves up products from his second home in his restaurants — of course this jack-of-all-trades is also a restaurateur. And he has also just set up a chocolate factory. Somewhere between his many projects, Dieter took a moment to answer some questions for COMPANION.

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Creating a Cult Label

It all started off with a modest music label and a few pairs of jeans. Since Maison Kitsuné’s origins in 2002, the purveyor of cool has spiralled out into a cult fashion brand and music label with coffee shops in Paris and Tokyo. How did it all come to be? Co-founder Gildas Loaëc shared with COMPANION how he seeks out the eclectic and the classic to stay fresh in these fast-moving industries.

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Generating a Genre

Natascha Augustin, senior creative director at Warner Chappell Music, is the cool-headed industry leader who’s responsible for propelling Germany’s hottest hip-hop and rap acts to the peak of international acclaim — though her humility prevents her from taking any of the credit. Having pioneered ‘Deutschrap’ (German rap) right from the beginning, her knack for navigating the ever-shifting tides of taste in popular music has stood not only Warner Chappell but also the entire industry in ever-stronger stead. Natascha took a moment out of her nonstop schedule to share with COMPANION how she discovers new talent, what she likes about the new wave of female German rappers, and her outlook for the future of the genre.

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Ballads of a Bad Boy

It’s hard to believe that Julian Pollina — better known as Faber — is just 26 years old. Given the grit of the Swiss singer-songwriter’s voice and lyrics, you’d be forgiven for assuming he’d seen at least two decades more. Sung in German, his 2017 debut album, ‘Sei ein Faber im Wind’ (Be a Faber in the Wind) leaves no subject unscathed in its wake. Its tracks set salacious wordplay to soaring melodies, recalling the husky snarls of Jacques Brel or the warbles of Balkan folk music — it is a new brand of melancholic dance music that’s captured the world-weary hearts of Faber’s generation. Ahead of his second album’s release, in late 2019, Faber emerged from the recording studio to speak with COMPANION about the blurred lines between fact and fiction, being bored in Zurich, and why he wouldn’t get along with Kanye.

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