Munich, Oktoberfest 2009: I’m heroically persevering in my quest to drown out immoral thoughts. But stein after stein they grow like credit card debt. They become bigger and bolder. Eventually they fill every intoxicated stare: Hundreds of thousand of beautiful breasts defying the demands of gravity by being popped up by lacy Bavarian dresses – called ‘dirndls’.
Oktoberfest was a reluctant destination. I couldn’t convince myself that it could be fun to queue for hours on end to join millions of beer drinkers downing copious amounts of lager while listening to tubas and trombones belching out a cacophonic racket worse that any bunch of vuvuzelas.
And then there’s the breast thing. I couldn’t be bothered. I love women for their lovely personalities. Why should breasts be a vital part of the female anatomy? But then – like with that other reluctant tourist on his way to Damascus – a bright light shone over the Augustiner Brau tent and its 10000 occupants. My newly acquired chum Renier – shortly after readjusting the fit of his lederhosen – grabbed me around the neck, pointed to his girlfriend’s breasts and proclaimed in his best Bavarian ‘Anglish’: “Sie Oktoberfest ist all abaut sie tits!”
At that exact point I was launched like a Scud missile straight towards that moment – six hours later – when I would share a German prison cell with an Aussie and a Kiwi.
Converted to a newly discovered philosophy that focussed years of noble Oktoberfest history into the pectoral principles, a multi-national team comprising one German, one South African, one Australian and one Kiwi set off – steins in hand – to find the perfect cleavage.
The Kiwi, Logan, went for Mona, but we lost her soon enough. The Aussie, a Freddy Flintoff look-alike called Chris, went for – you guessed it – Sheila. Although she made it blatantly clear she was more interested in an Austrian guy, Chris persisted in convincing himself she meant Australian. Renier was obliged to go for his Svea because she overheard what the expedition was all about. Me, representing the 2010 World Cup hosts, did not hesitate to go for Katja, our beer wrench. She could carry 12 steins in one go and already agreed to marry me.
Katja was a bit of an educator too. The “Wiesn”, as she explained the locals refer to Oktoberfest, was a celebration of King Ludwig I’s marriage to Princess Therese in 1810. All the citizens of Munich were invited to celebrate the great royal event. With some horse racing and beer drinking, the wedding party was so memorable, that the locals organised more of the same the next year. Before they knew it they had an annual “agricultural” festival with local brewers eager to promote their brew. By 1896 the brewing houses started erecting massive tents to accommodate their guests. This set the format for the authentic drinking experience you can still enjoy today.
Outside of the decorated tents the Vegas-style Florissant lighting, merry-go-rounds and shooting-at-bottle-tops-for-teddy-bears was a modern day adaptation of which Katja had no idea “who the idiots were that allowed it”. The modern 16-day format does, however, attract over 6-million festival-goers from all over the world annually, earning Munich multi-millions in foreign income.
But we were losing interest in history, statistics and authenticity. It was soft rounded organs we now found significant. The lure of the dirndls was just too much. Chris -just what you would expect from an Aussie – was the one that lunged. Afterwards – in the cell – he said it was like looking at a cold beer without drinking it. “Not touching would have been immoral.”
The Bundespolizei did not agree. Smooth talking and German speaking Renier walk away from it all looking sheepishly guilty for leaving his new chums in the lurch. My grade 8 German got me nowhere and the poor antipodeans had no chance at…