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An Outsider In On The Inside: A German Experience

06 Oct

By: Bea Patricia L. Lataquin | 112152 | AB EU | SA21- Q

culture |ˈkəlCHər|

noun

  • the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively; the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social group

festival|ˈfestəvəl|

noun

  • a day or period of celebration, typically a religious commemoration

            Aren’t cultural festivals just the greatest thing ever? There seems to be a different joy that comes with immersing yourself into an unknown culture and come out more enlightened than you previously imagined. The experience cuts off all of the assumptions you got from unreliable sources and breaks down the truth as it is. What the people of the certain culture are really like, cards down on the table, once for all.

            Right now, it’s 11:41 pm on a Friday night.  The Geothe Institut German Cultural Festival (Octoberfest) is probably still ongoing at this very moment, with the drinks still free flowing and the infectious German reggae music still playing loudly. Images of the German men and women swaying their hips and moving their hands to the music are still circling my mind.

I cannot believe I almost tried to back out of attending. I would’ve missed one of the greatest nights of my life.

            Oh, you think I’m exaggerating? Think I’m completely bonkers to state such a fact? Well, okay. Truth be told, the night didn’t start out to be one of the greatest. First of all, it was a Friday, which meant getting to Makati from Katipunan was already a challenge in it self. Secondly, the taxi driver we rode took to us to the wrong places and turned at the wrong streets, whether it was out of genuine absent-mindedness or some smart ploy to get the meter running longer was a complete mystery. And third, by the time we got to the place the festival had already started and we missed most of the production numbers. Even worse, they had already run out on cups to pour the drinks on (not that I am capable of handling any amount of liquor at all, but, to my blockmates who enjoy the art of alcohol, this was pretty displeasing). And okay, fine. The venue wasn’t all that astonishing either. The Geothe Institut is located near the entrance of the Adamson Centre and by the looks of it, wasn’t all that big to hold a bunch of Germans, German-speakers, and well, us. The Festival flooded out into the steps of the building and, from a far, you wouldn’t have guessed it to be a party. So, yes. At first, the whole thing seemed a bit disappointing. But I promise you, by the time we had to leave, everything had already turned 160 degrees around, for the better.

            We were making our rounds, eyeing the people around us. Most of them were, well, German and pretty good-looking, so staring like glazed idiots was expected of us.

After doing the “observing” component of our little field trip, we pooled in our gatherings and came with the following results:

First observation: Music was definitely weirder; ethnic-y, lots of drums and more use of instruments instead of the typical techno-beats.Weirder, but definitely better. Cannot help but bob your head….move your arms in a drumming fashion…..bend you knees to the beat….dance like it’s nobody’s business.

Second observation: There was no dress code (Or was having no dress code actually a dress code? Hmmm..). Fashion choices ranged from super-tight, body hugging, holes-in-the-back mini dress to comfy jeans and sweaters. Strange side note: men liked to leave the first two buttons of their polos open (don’t know if fashion statement or it’s just really hot)

Third observation: Liquor was all you needed to have a good time (and boy, can they handle their liquor). Case in point – one girl was carrying a whole pitcher, for herself.

            After the quick group huddle, we felt a tad more comfortable entering the next part of the trip, the “participating” segment. We mentally stored away the note-taking part of us, which was really hard, and prepped ourselves for the immersing. Most of them grabbed the now available cups and got a hold of free flowing alcohol, I clutched my bag like a paranoid, hoping no one ends up stealing it’s contents (okay, so maybe I wasn’t really all that ready to immerse myself in the unfamiliar).

           The whole thing was still awkward until an icebreaker came along in the form of Ms. Jackie Jose, the FLC1GR professor of 3 of my block-mates.

Suddenly, it felt like all the inhibitions of just having a good time shed away and we finally found ourselves taking part in the festivities (i.e. dancing, drinking, taking pictures).

 

Half-way through our version of “dancing”, the music stopped and a group of young men came out, with native-looking drums and performed one of the most ear-gasmic beats I’ve ever heard live.

 

 

 

 

It was definitely catchier than the songs playing from the speakers and more effective in getting people to dance. The whole performance had a very reggae-vibe to it and I guess this was what people of their culture enjoyed, music you can actually move to, music that felt free-ing. Maybe their choice in pop-culture (if you can call it that) attributes to their uninhibited spirits. I liked it too.  I even danced to it with my friends (which I never actually do because my body is physically incapable of moving to any beat at all).

            Being in that moment, dancing to the beat of the drums and just forgetting the world (i.e. finals), was winsome. It no longer felt like I was forcing myself into an unknown culture, it felt more like I was already part of it. I finally understood that these cultural festivals were more than just random parties to get “boozed up” on, they were opportunities to free themselves and an opportunity to free other people from their inhibitions as well. There were no circles, no specific cliques. They were making rounds on the space and talked to everyone (if not talk, at the very least, smiled and acknowledged). The night continued on with lots of talk, picture-taking and drinking (supervised legally, of course). I even ended up slowly loosening my grip on my sling bag and before the end of the night, had completely let go and just had a good time.

We left the festival at around 9:30 (I know, I know… it was too early and the we were just starting to have fun too!) and brought back with us memories and new knowledge of our little immersion; Germans were eccentric people, with varying styles of music and fashion, extremely laid-back and fun-loving people who did not hold back their amiability to anyone at all; they photo-bombed some of our pictures and smiled at us like we were all old buddies, even though our age gap must’ve been like, centuries apart (kidding, of course). This was the part where the night became one of the greatest; We were no longer the strangers that we were when we walked the pavements to the Geothe Institut. The outsiders (i.e. us, college students) were finally in on the inside.

Well, now it’s 1:01 am, officially a Saturday. When I wake up, I’m going to be plagued with crammer’s syndrome and try to make up for all the lost time but none of which I regretted. It was worth it to be a part of a culture you never knew you could be accustomed to, even if it was only for a couple of hours.

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Posted by on October 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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