Monday, June 29, 2009

Strassenfeste and how I feel about them

So here's the thing: I kinda, sorta hate street festivals. I think I first realized they weren't my thing when I was around 7 years old. My sister and I went with friends to a street festival in Tucson in honor of Rodeo Day (a biggggg holiday there, or at least back in the early 80s). I was, of course, very excited. A street festival was the only place to buy a sopaipilla, which I loved, and I was sure it would offer up so many other delights. But when we got there and started walking around, I remember being slightly disappointed. Sure, my sopaipilla was delicious and swimming in honey; sure, I got a metallic unicorn balloon which held its helium for well over a week; but the festival was hot and loud and full. "This sucks," part of me thought, but that thought was immediately pushed down somewhere deep within my subconcious. Street festivals were supposed to be fun. How could I not like them?

Not counti
ng the Christmas markets (which are basically the same thing only with Gl├╝hwein and, sometimes, snow), Berlin has probably around a dozen street festivals a year. They are always crowded, always full of stands selling the same import/export junk and hemp hand-bags, always full of people tanked up on Pils beer and Caipirinia and bloated from sausages and greasy chop suey and pork steaks. But for some reason I always have to go to them. "Maybe this one will be different," I tell myself, though of course, they never are.As my good friend Ms Rosalik says, whose picture is at the beginning of this post, "Strassenfeste are the one time in the year when Germans feel like it's ok to let their hair down. They drink a Caipirinia under overcast skies and say, "Just like in Brazil, wa?"

The Bergmann Strassenfest is, however, an exception. This Strassenfest on Bergmann street (about a ten minute walk from my apartment)is not as bad for one main reason: the music. Formerly known as The Bergmannstrasse Jazz Festival, they changed the name a couple of years ago becuase they don't really play much "pure" jazz. The bands that do play- soul bands and blues bands and swing bands among others- haven't strayed too far from the original jazz roots.

On Saturday I saw a great Oakland-based band called The California Honey Drops. Their music is a bit of blues meets soul meets dixieland but what I liked best of all was the California vibe I was getting; so cool and friendly and laid back, something you never, ever, ever get here. In the middle of the show the drummer started getting frustrated. He kept on trying to get people to dance in the totally empty area in front of the stage or to clap and sing along, but was having no sucess. Though he may not have thought so, the people were enjoying it: a lot them were bobbing their heads which is the German equivalent of getting down. I wanted to shout "East Bay Girl in the house!" and start jumping around and dancing the funky chicken right in front of the stage, but I didn't. I did, however, bob my head. Guess I'm just one California girl who had simply lived in Berlin too long....


Camille said...

There must've been a Bergmann strassenfest back in the 8-tees, since I remember going to them.

The strassenfeste, the way you describe them, are similar to the temple parties on Koh Samui, you're seen one, you've seen them all, although you keep going to them, although less frequently, I must admit.

Schaufensterbabe said...

Funny how this seems to be a common thing, and yet people still keep on going to them. Around the world even....


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