A brief note from the Volksfest

I’m feeling a bit ashamed, a bit…shall we say…a tad unpatriotic.

For it’s tonight that I realized for the first time that we Americans simply do not know how to celebrate (or ‘party’ for those of you inclined towards the college vernacular).

The Germans? They understand the meaning of a good time.

As you walk into the fair grounds, it seems a bit unassuming. There are carnival rides, games, and other accoutrements that one finds at a fair. Except there are a dozen or so of these buildings that easily sit 3000 people. So at 4pm, you sit down in one and see that it has a bit of a restaurant feel to it, what with the menu that is offered. Then the waiter comes by and asks “Bier?”

And you nod your head in the affirmative, because, quite frankly, that’s the only way you really know how to communicate to someone in a different country, as apparently you were too lazy to learn the darn language.

But this is okay, because the waiter encourages your ignorance with a liter of beer. served in a glass that could easily be mistaken for a weapon.

The drinking commences. Dinner comes and goes, and people just keep coming. Soon you are at a table with a half dozen people who initially came to eat, but soon stayed for the liter beers. Not meaning to be rude, you purchase beers along with the others, and soon they are purchasing beers for you.

By 6 o’clock, the band starts.

By seven, you start dancing to songs both familiar and not. You sing along to tunes, and shout out ein, svei, drei, and toast everyone at the table.

By eight, you are dancing on the table, shaking you booty to the Benny Hill theme song. You don’t mind, because everyone else is doing so as well.

And then it hits you. You are dancing, in a room with 3000 people, to the Benny Hill song, and consuming copious amounts of beer. This unto itself is somewhat remarkable, until you realize that there are eleven other buildings, where 3000 people, per building, are also dancing on the tables to audience participation songs. It’s only Wednesday, and this has been going on for two weeks prior.

Take a fraternity party, subtract the worst things about fraternity parties, and then multiply its sum by Mardi Gras. Add it to it the square of the best part of wedding receptions. This is getting a tad close to defining what Volksfest and Oktoberfest are. Yes, people get drunk, but there are surprising little amounts of drunk stupidity. It’s as if they distilled out all of the fun parts of celebration, and then served them in a shot glass which should be consumed to the tune of Louie, Louie.

What does America have that’s equivalent? Nothing that I can think of. And I’d be upset about this too, if I hadn’t just had the time of my life in Stuttgart.