• Backstage Walkabout: Swingfest, Weststadthalle, Essen
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Backstage Walkabout: Swingfest, Weststadthalle, Essen
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The first German leg of our 2014 autumn tour and home turf for Denovali Records Swingfest. This festival is named after the German pre war Swingkids or ‘Swingjugend’ who, in the 1930’s followed Jazz and swing music. As the German pre war right wing socialist movement grew, affiliation with swing became a political statement as a protest against the rise of Nazism. By the onset of the war, anything associated with such ‘degenerate’ music, bohemian or sexually liberated ‘effete’ behaviour and later reference to American and British fashion and culture became punishable by anything from ‘reeducation’ to detention or execution. This did not prevent Swingkids from attending clandestine ‘Swingclubs’ in every major German city during the war and in some cases working with more established resistance movements within Germany during the war.

It is only fitting that the Weststadhalle is used as the venue for Swingfest in its hometown- as it is converted from its original purpose as a Krupp munitions factory. The main hall still contains the huge and very imposing steel hook from the original factory floor.

In contrast, the atmosphere of Swingfest itself retains many of the characteristics of the original swing movement- its audiences are dedicated, enthusiastic and open minded people- some travelling great distances to come and see the festival.

I was blown away by it all and suffice to say it was the best gig ‘biro we have played to date.

Thanks to Denovali and all the people who came to the festival.


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