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Subject Keeping Drunks Off the Streets :Germany's First Drinking Room for Alcoholics
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Original Message The Sofa bar in the northern city of Kiel caters to a very particular clientele -- unemployed alcoholics. The experiment has been such a success that other cities are now hoping to follow suit.

It's 10:30 a.m., and things are hopping at the Sofa bar in the northern German city of Kiel. The men sitting at the table on the left, in the front of the room, have already had their first four rounds of beer, the radio is blasting loud guitar riffs, and a young girl hops onto a patron's lap and asks him for a sip. A glass bottle is rolling back and forth on the floor, and the air is thick with cigarette smoke. Atze and Dirk sit at the bar, coughing, rolling unfiltered cigarettes and asking if anyone wants a drink.

The bar is the latest addition to Germany's social welfare state. And it's an establishment that has captured the attention of many other cities around the country.

The Sofa looks like any Eckkneipe, the small corner pubs with a working-class clientele that dot German cities, and about the same amount of alcohol is consumed here. It has roughly 70 regulars, aged from 18 to 70, football pennants hang on the walls, and a TV set above the bar, on the left side, is always on -- but usually with the sound turned down. However, there is one critical difference between the Sofa and other bars.

In this bar, some of the costs are covered by taxpayer money from the city treasury. The Sofa is Germany's first drinking room, a sort of crash smoking room for alcoholics. Most of the people who frequent the place are serious alcoholics and are allowed to bring their own cheap beer and sangria. The bar itself only serves soft drinks and strong coffee. "It's great," says Dirk, twisting his tattooed face into a smile, "isn't it?"
[link to www.spiegel.de]
cheers dasbier
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