My Night in Bad Oeynhausen
As I checked out of my hotel in Leipzig, Germany, the girl behind the counter asked me where I was heading next. "Bad Oeynhausen," I replied. She looked at me with a mixture of surprise and faint horror. "Why...?" she replied.
It was a good question.
Bad Oeynhausen is a small town (population 48,000) in north western Germany. It is known for its natural hot water springs, fresh air, and population of mostly older people drawn there by the healthy environment.
As I arrived, it put me in mind of one of those fictional eastern European towns that is peaceful and idyllic by day, but terrorised by vampires and werewolves at night. Everyone I saw was elderly (the younger population clearly having been killed off by the werewolves) and the charming semi-rural environment was peaceful and quiet. Too quiet.
I checked into the small privately-owned hotel and made sure the windows were locked. Comfortable that the room was mostly werewolf-secure, I turned to the business of the night: variety theatres. Or rather, one particularly remarkable variety theatre.
Despite being a small and relatively remote town, Bad Oeynhausen is home to a quite spectacular anomaly in the world of performance art. Specifically, a variety theatre built into the shell of a 100-year old palatial bath house. As I approached it via the sprawling local park at night, keeping a watchful eye out for undead, I was eventually encountered this image:
As theatres go, that is one hell of a store-front. Inside is a 380-seat theatre, two restaurants, and a bar / nightclub. The theatre is one of five around Germany that is run by the GOP Variety chain, and boasts shows that rotate roughy every two months. The show playing when I visited was a French circus troupe that delivered a solid two hours of variety art with a slightly surreal French twist. Also, a guy doing bike flips on a trampoline. Yes; on a bicycle.
The show was decent, the house was full, and afterwards the whole venue was thriving with people eating, drinking, and enjoying the aftermath. I was wiped out from the past two weeks of travelling though, and headed back to my room to pass out.
Overall it had been a great night. I'd seen an amazing theatre, watched a thoroughly decent show, and hadn't been killed by a werewolf.