Minga. Oktoberfest and the Bavarian Gemütlichkeit

Bavarians never cease to amuse me. Mostly because of their adorable dialect. There’s Steckerleis and Buidl. There’s Gschaftlhuber and Bazi. Isn’t it wonderful? 😀

This year, Munich called me to my very first Wiesn experience. Peter was so good as to provide me with heaps of ‘how to Oktoberfest’ articles, which turned my Vorfreude into a sociological curiosity. So, one Saturday I set out for my empirical culture study at, on and around the Theresienwiese.
Hundreds of people stream on the Festwiese where thousands more already enjoy the festival. Some are dressed in traditional costumes: colourful Dirndls and Krachlederne. Others in plain clothes. Wafts of a million different smells move through the air. Ten metres into the festival I’m already pondering the order in which I want to eat half a hendl, almonds, currywurst and brezn. The atmosphere is relaxed, light and friendly. I begin to suspect that the stories about piles of drunk people and scantily clad individuals doing pole dance at fences might not be representative of all the Oktoberfest.

People leisurely stroll between the colourful stands and enormous beer tents that hold up to several hundreds of people. Inside, I’m surprised to find, there’s almost Prussian order. Niches are made of a couple of beer benches, each one nicely separated from the next. People stand on those beer benches, tiny yet robust waitresses carry heaps of Weizenmaß (1 litre glasses of Weizenbier) and the Stimmung is … not there.

Wait – what?? Wasn’t I supposed to party hard with people standing on beer benches and sing along Schlager songs and clap my hands and dance with strangers? A bit like Karneval but without the costumes? The music plays “und die Hände zum Himmel, kommt lasst uns fröhlich sein” and I fall into a schunkeling trot, singing along loudly, expectantly and happily looking at the people around me to join my glee.

Nothing.

Blank faces. Only a handful of individuals sing along. The others … talk! Wait .. talk??? 🙂 They stand on beer benches and talk! Guys! Don’t you know, that these things have only one purpose, to stand on them drunkenly and yell along with the music while drinking gross amounts of alcohol? The maximum sign of silliness are those colourful traditional hats that most people wear. I’m genuinely surprised. What am I to do with my sociological Wiesn-ambitions now? Well, go elsewhere for a beer, of course

We leave the tent and have a Maß and share savoury food at the traditional beer tent, where we have a truly lovely time.

Outside, we buy almonds and nibble them along our way among the exhibitors’ stalls and carrousels, shooting galleries and candy shops, while the sun sets behind the blinking rollercoasters. What a beautiful place! And how wonderful, that every year a small world is created here, where magic happens, where people meet, where old meets new, modest meets extravagant, tradition meets new age.

Thank you, Minga, I’ll make sure to return one day. Why don’t you pay your return visit to Cologne next year and we’ll see how to party at Karneval.

Pfiadi and alaaf!

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