Danes show support as world’s oldest tattoo shop fears shutdown

'Tattoo Ole’, located at Copenhagen's historic Nyhavn and possibly the world’s last remaining tattoo shop still at its original location, is facing closure.

Danes show support as world’s oldest tattoo shop fears shutdown
The Nyhavn building that houses the historic tattoo shop. Photo: Mahlum/Wikimedia Commons

The owner of the building and the owner of the tattoo shop are engaged in a legal battle, with the former having ended Tattoo Ole’s lease.

The tattoo parlour will be converted into a kitchen for the restaurant that occupies other floors of the building, say the owners of the tattoo business.

Online petitions as well as support groups have been started by supporters of Tattoo Ole to spread the word and gain as much opposition to the shutdown as possible.

So far, around 6,000 people have signed an online petition to save the iconic tattoo shop.

According to the petition, this is not the first time that the owners have tried to close down the ink parlour, with previous iterations of the tattoo shop having survived bids to have it closed. 

Majbritt Petersen, the current owner of the shop, is now trying to save the historic tattoo parlour.

“They want to have a bigger kitchen, and I want to save history,” Petersen says in a video posted to her Facebook account last week.

“We believe that it would be a catastrophe if this historical shop were closed down. It’s unique in the world of tattooing and therefore we hope you will support the case by writing a signed letter where you state why this shop has to stay open at this specific location,” Frank Rosenkilde, who started the petition as well as the online support group, told The Local via a written message. 

Rosenkilde, who has been tattooing for 40 years, has his own tattoo museum along with a tattoo shop.

The Nyhavn 17 shop comes with a history and legacy that the petition aims to protect.

Having begun in 1884 as a table in the far corner of the Nyhavn shop, a tattooist is believed to have worked on the premises continuously ever since, Petersen told The Local via written message.

By the early 1930’s, Nyhavn 17 was a regular tattoo shop boasting renowned tattoo artists.

From 1947 the shop was taken over by Ole Valdemar Hansen, who was also known as Tatovør Ole. A succession of popular tattooists helped the establishment maintain its reputation over a period of years.

”The Nyhavn 17 tattoo parlour might be the most described and documented anywhere. The parlour has been several times in the press, books and literature over the years and is, by some, still described today as the original birthplace of Danish tattooing as we know it,”  writes Rosenkilde.

Up until the 1980’s Nyhavn, with its many tattoo parlours, was at the centre of tattooing in Scandinavia, and many of the artists who worked there still inspire artists from all over the world today, he added.

The case is scheduled to go to court on September 14th.

READ ALSO: Ten of Denmark's most 'Instagram-able' places


Hair salons and tattoo parlours reopen in Denmark

Small businesses such as hair salons, massage and tattoo parlours, dentists and driving schools reopened in Denmark on Monday after a five-week closure, as the country gradually eases restrictions aimed at curbing the new coronavirus.

Hair salons and tattoo parlours reopen in Denmark
Janni Roest, the owner of Fair Tattoo in Copenhagen getting back to work on Monday: Photo: Niels Christian Vilmann/Ritzau Scanpix
“I had an appointment weeks and weeks ago and I've been waiting to come. As soon as I saw there was an opening, I made a reservation,” Merete Soendergaard, an IT consultant who was among the first through the doors at a hair salon in Copenhagen on Monday morning, told AFP.
The owner of the salon, Anne-Sophie Skjodt Villumsen, said she was happy to be able to reopen her business, noting that she was following the detailed health and safety guidelines put in place.   
Clients have to disinfect their hands at the entrance, and must be given a single-use poncho to wear during their appointment. Materials and surfaces have to be disinfected between clients as well.
Denmark began lifting its restrictions on April 15, when it started reopening preschools and primary schools for children up to age 11.   
Danes are, however, still urged to practice social distancing by keeping two metres (six feet) apart, gatherings of more than 10 people are banned, and cafes, restaurants, shopping centres and gyms will remain closed until May 10, as will middle and secondary schools.
At driving schools, instructors resumed work on Monday, though some expressed concerns about the “possible risk of infection” in cars, the head of the driving instructors' federation, Bent Grue, told AFP.
As of Monday, Denmark had 7,711 reported cases of the new coronavirus and 364 deaths.