The Shangl Hangl Story: How The Music Was Made

Tucked away on Schönstedt Straße, in Neukölln, lies a very special place. Shangl Hangl is a bar/café, an association, an event and a cultural melting pot (it really is). If Neukölln were an event, this would be it: it’s relaxed, open, makeshift, fun and has not a frill in sight. The association holds events two nights a week (Wednesdays and Fridays) with open jam sessions and band performances. Shangl Hangl focuses on flamenco and Arabic music, as well as on all different types of jazz and gypsy-swing.

Two brothers and a friend (a painter and producer) began the association around six years ago. I spoke to Faris Natur, one of the brothers, about how it got started. In a classic brotherly way he noted that his brother would give “a very different story of how things began.” Faris Natur, was working as a seller in Bremen, after a couple of years he lost his ability to fake a smile. And so the decision was made to go to berlin; where there were greater opportunities to meet musicians and other artists. This was the birth of Shangl Hangl - a WG in Friedrichschain. Money was tight so they used their skills and took their selling techniques to the streets, selling their own CDS to members of the public.

However, unfortunately, this did not make enough to live off. So they all took some time out. Some time later, they found a new place on Schönstedtstraße, Neukölln; within eleven days they re-vamped it. Their father then came to Berlin to support them. This meant not only was there a diversity of cultures but also a range of generations; this created an exciting collective of all different sorts of people. At this time they were using the space for friends’ exhibitions and an association began to form.

The guys invested in a coffee machine and opened the place up everyday; it was a space where anybody could just go and hang. The sessions started with around 20 musicians. Then more and more musicians started coming to jam together. It became a space for a collective of musicians, who experimented together and learnt from one another. Lots of friends came and did their best for the place. There was a remarkable fusion of the elder generation’s Arabic music with gypsy-swing. The best thing was it was not, and is still not, an anonymous place. When entering Shangl Hangl one experiences a warming sensation; in the way that this kind of collective, the coming together of musicians offers some sense of stability and peace of mind. Unfortunately the neighbours made more and more complaints, particularly about the dj-nights or any night with particularly heavy bass (the most popular and financially beneficial) so in order to break even cuts had to be made.

Live sessions from then on were the focus, taking place on a weekly basis. The place is makeshift and basic but is undeniably wonderful. Living in a capital city, despite Berlin’s superiority over the likes of London, Paris and New York, can be at times lonely and disheartening. However, it is events like this that make one feel accepted. The up-beat jazz-gypsy swing music with highly accomplished musicians is uplifting and fun. The homemade pink-yellow light in the basement, where the musicians play to a red velvet backdrop creates the perfect event to sit back and relax on the beer crate stools. It is a perfect space for meeting, creating and relaxing.

Sadly due to noise complaints the place must one again find a new home. Faris Natur said to me that this is perhaps the ending that creates an entirely new beginning. The association is in need of money to afford a new space to continue holding nights that are open to everyone. It would be such a shame for something like this, with no frills or pretences, not to be able to continue. In a world that is stressful and unpredictable, people need spaces like this where there is inherently a sense of openness and enjoyment. If you have never been before, I would highly recommend attending before it has to close down or move venue, you will be accepted and entertained whilst being able to relax: what more could you ask for?

Many Thanks to Faris Natur for his time and entertainment.
If you’d like to donate some money towards helping them afford a new place, please click the link below.

Shangl Hangl needs a new home
Shangl Hangl, Schönstedtstrasse 14, Berlin

By Bonny Herington

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