Friday, October 2, 2009

Love All, Serve All

Oktoberfest in 10 steps

Step 1: ensure you have a place to pass out

Our hostel was just outside of cosmopolitan Munich, overlooking trees and churches and cottage-front constructions. It gave off the feeling of a place you could only find by accident: very city-that-appears-once-every-hundred-years legend. It was an odd arrangement, situated at the top of a hill and built with many hallways, unlit and giving way to the adventurous feeling of perhaps bumping into someone in the night. There were great fields for Frisbee and a spacious tiled room where they served breakfast, including the granola based cereal with dark chocolate shavings that now holds a dear place in my heart. At the festival we saw the alternative to hostel living: passing out on grass carpets. I’ll stick to my bunk bed and my cereal and the things that go bump in the night.

Step 2: let Munich take your breath away

Play in towers, Play in fountains, Play in parks, Play in rivers

Step 3: be properly attired, whatever the occasion calls for

Sure, seas of checkered shirts and lederhosen are pretty standard – but how well can you rock it? Inspirations for fashion this weekend were only the fiercest: those who could kick it with Hello Kitty and still look cool:

The girls and I tried on a few outfits ourselves….but in the end we shunned the traditional, buying instead suspenders and hats with feathers.

Step 4: brave Hofbräuhaus

Famous in Munich. We had sausages and sauerkraut and mugs of froth as big as our faces. They only let people in a bit at a time and everyone would storm the entrances in surges. The HB logo reminded me of a comment I made this summer while strolling the pier in Huntington Beach, wondering who had designed their own HB brand. The two are identical and I am now less impressed with Huntington Beach, believing them beer-loving thieves.
The arena within the Hofbräuhaus walls is unparalleled. People yell conversations, climb through the large sliding windows, and then yell louder to hear themselves over the yellers first mentioned. It is catered-to chaos, as waiters miraculously remember where everyone is in a sea of people while dodging flying clothes and glass. Catered-to chaos, all in perfect cheerfulness.

Step 5: tour the tents and settle down

Tent 1: Our first experience with the tents. I expected them to host wild debauchery. I expected them to serve unpronounceable beers. I did not expect them to be so…beautiful. Each tent takes on a large personality, choosing bold stripes of colors as badges of honor. And those loyal to particular beer houses will dress themselves in those colors. It’s entirely overwhelming and wonderful. I liked this tent – so much of it was clear and opened to the sky.

Tent 2: The Christmas tent. I had a sudden craving for snow and hot chocolate. But then the pretzel woman went by and I remembered where I was. The more aggressively drunk Germans were in this tent – we were grabbed off the aisles by groups insisting we cheers with them.

Tent 3: We decided to get a late lunch here and try what was reported to be one of the best things in Germany – the potato soup and the roasted chicken. The reports were not wrong and we had beer mixed with lemonade. This was also the tent where our group accidentally (?) bought beer for underage German girls.

Tent 4: Where the party is. We know it upon entering – this – this tent right here – is the tent of our dreams. The vibe is right, the people look friendly, and the music is good. The thing is, no matter what tent you are in, it is impossible to get a steady spot at a table without reservations. This leads us to Step 6.

Step 6: find proper prost mates

This is done by wandering the aisles and making friends. These friends will then invite you to

climb over benches. Once situated on the benches, you will learn each other’s life stories, and conversations will be dominated by exclamations of PROST – the cheering chant of choice at Oktoberfest. I find it an excellent system. We became soul mates for the day and it felt strangely invigorating

to skip all the hesitance and nervousness of encountering a new person and advancing to the better stage of knowing them for hundreds of lives or more. Call it utopian. Right below are the founding members: normal citizen, normal citizen, normal citizen, German Dolce&Gabbana model

Step 7: dance on tables

Lesson learned: this is a justifiable act for everyone. I think I have the igniting scenario summarized: tents and emotions and limits are at their capacities, you’re with your best friends in the whole world (at Oktoberfest, these are whichever people are nearest), and the band begins to play your favorite. song. EVER. That’s it – up on the table! The difference is there are hundreds and hundreds of people thinking the exact same thing – because everyone knows the words and everyone knows the

choreography. And everyone loses themselves for droplets at a time staring in their own music videos. It’s lip-synching to scenery during a road trip or screaming lyrics in the shower with a shampoo-bottle-microphone perfected.

Step 8: recognize the love story
Like all good things, Oktoberfest started with a love story. And they don’t let you forget it – heart shaped everything as well as love’s constant profession. Well, I’m a romantic. So I’m all for the endorsements. Peace. Love. Oktoberfest.

Step 9: lose the ground, just get high
No, really. Let go, in all the best connotations Or, if it’s your desire, all the worst connotations as well. And, sometimes, even in the physical. Example:
Get a ticket, Going Up, FLY (55 meters up, to be exact), Dare to Look Down, Live to Tell the Tale

Step 10: have meaningful encounters with strangers
Song of the trip:
"If I find him, if I just follow, would he hold me and never let me go? Would he let me borrow his wool, winter coat? I don't know."
"If I see her, standing there alone, at the train station three stops from her home... I have half a mind to say what I'm thinking anyway, but I don't know..."
Don't say hello with a quick goodbye.

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