Artist backlash against social distancing in Germany


August 3, 2021

Strandkorb Open Air, the popular German concert series which seats attendees in socially distanced deck chairs, has lost two of its biggest stars after the singers criticised coronavirus restrictions they say has taken the fun out of performing.

Musical comedian Helge Schneider cancelled all remaining shows as part of Strandkorb Open Air, which is travelling Germany this summer, after walking off stage during a concert in Augsburg.

“It’s not really fun,” he told the 800 people in attendance before stopping the show. “You have no contact with the audience… The system here is specious and stupid. I’m sorry for you and hope you will get your money back.”

After about 20 minutes, a spokesperson for Schneider reappeared and explained that fans should visit Schneider’s website for instructions on how to obtain a refund,” reports the Augsburger Allgemeine.


While Schneider pulled out of the series voluntarily, Nena (of ‘99 Red Balloons’ fame) had her 13 September performance at Strandkorb Open Air cancelled after allegedly encouraging fans to break out of their individual ‘VIP boxes’ during another socially distanced event, Unter Freiem Himmel (Under the Open Sky) on 25 July.

“Take back your freedom,” the 61-year singer told those in attendance. “They have threatened to cancel the show if you do not stay in your boxes, but I will leave it up to you,” she added. “Everyone is free to decide, just as everyone can freely decide whether to get vaccinated or not.”

Der Tagesspiegel writes that Nena’s actions “undermined the event concept, behaving as if she did have to observe the hygiene rules that she accepted by agreeing to her appearance”.

In response, Strandkorb Open Air organiser Hockeypark Betriebs GmbH cancelled the singer’s appearance at its event. A statement posted on the Strandkorb Facebook page says it was “contractually agreed in advance that the concerts should not be used as a political stage” and so organisers would now be distancing themselves “from the statements, and the appearance, of the artist.”

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