Wednesday 12 September 2012

Just cos it's in a tent, does it have to be camp?

pic by @bryan_gb
It's Oktoberfest season here in Germany – and yes, it is still September here too, it's called Oktoberfest because it ends in October. All over the country, what might once I suppose have been harvest festivals have become local imitations of the Munich original, complete with Bavarian beer, blue and white bunting, and of course silly hats.

Lüneburg's version is quite early, small and short – just four days, finishing yesterday (when the Munich one doesn't open until the 22nd), and only one giant beer tent. Presumably the tent will now be taken down and moved somewhere a bit bigger for another Oktoberfest next weekend.

It's not just the beer tent though – there's also assorted fun-fair stalls and children's fairground rides, places to buy various kinds of hot and cold food, and there are lots of other outdoor bars. Fittingly, most of the other beer on sale was northern, with Duckstein (now owned by Carlsberg, and I believe brewed at the Holsten site in Hamburg) the most prominent. Also around were Holsten and Lüneburger Pilsners (both also from Carlsberg/Hamburg), and AB-InBev's Diebels Alt, though by the look of it the latter was only available as an “Alt Bowle” which is a beer cocktail or punch, complete with chunks of fruit.

When we finally reached the big tent late on Sunday afternoon, a pair of entertainers were banging out versions of 60s/70s Country classics – Sweet Caroline, Country Road, that sort of thing – to a small but reasonably appreciative crowd. After they went off stage things got a little odd, when a rather fey chap who appeared to be a member of the audience took the mike and started singing. His voice was good, not great, but it was abundantly clear that he knew how to use a stage.

Anyway, we were about to finish our beers – Löwenbräu Oktoberfest, which was competent; the alternative was Franziskaner weiss, and both are now AB-InBev properties – and head home for something with a bit more depth of flavour, when I spotted that the menu also listed the weekend's entertainment, and Sunday night was a "Travestie Show", ie. a drag cabaret...

pic by @PsycheDK
I've seen some strange things at beer festivals, but this pretty much takes the biscuit. The highlights, if one can call them that, were a rather tubby transvestite doing fart jokes while impersonating Benny Hill's impersonation of Nana Mouskouri(!), and a much slimmer and very glam colleague (seen here – I'm pretty sure this was the fey chap from earlier) dancing with one of the lads from the big macho table in the middle. Laddie didn't seem to need much persuading, mind you.

My Danish friends and I observed that it was all extremely odd – and very German. “Very Bavarian, more like,” sniffed a local.

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