Bordeaux: The HP, squatted psychiatric hospital


H.P. in French is short for psychiatric hospital. There are several of them in Bordeaux. But one of them has no doctors and nurses. It has no beds or waiting rooms, no registers and does not require a health insurance. Le H.P. is in a huge building parts of which got squatted three years ago by artists to open ateliers in deserted flats.

Some of the flats are now also squatted for living, in some of them there are parties happening every now and then, some of them are quiet working spaces and some of them are galleries or open spaces for Art Symphosiums … but this is kept rather secret.

The most prominent part of the H.P. is a huge room that is used as a dance floor. It is totally silent around this anonymous block of flats next to the highway on the outskirts of Bordeaux. To find the H.P. one has to know that it exists. The entry is an inconspicuously looking door that most people enter only for one purpose: dancing while releashing their crazy enrgies.

Every week the H.P. attracts around 300 young people for an entrance fee of one or two Euros that goes towards the bands. Most of them don´t know that the H.P. is a squat but all of them act as if they felt that the H.P. is a place where social norms of interaction have to be liberated from mentally oppressive patterns: they make a grimasse when dancing and jumping, they do pantomimes, talk to those they don´t know and dance in a big wobbling circle.

After the party, when the sun rises and the last dancers are tired, the place is kept neat and tidy by one person who lives above the dance floor. No one knows his name and even fewer people have ever seen him.

The invisible squatter was according to some also the creator of the large paintings on the walls that picture people who look incredibly stiff.

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