Oans, Zwoa, Oktoberfest

Sacramento Alpentaenzer Dance Group and Band at an Octoberfest in Sacramento, CA

Sacramento Alpentaenzer Dance Group and Band at an Octoberfest in Sacramento, CA

Another weekend and then Octoberfests in Northern California are nearly over for this year. I am amazed that this Bavarian tradition/event has become so popular in the U.S. According to data from the German Magazine Spiegel, this is not that unusual since over 3,000 Oktoberfests are celebrated worldwide. I have to admit that I have never been to the Oktoberfest in Munich when I lived in Europe; I am now kind of regretting that oversight. In contrast to most American tourists to Germany, I have not even been to the Hofbraeuhaus even though I have been to Munich plenty of times. The irony is that I have attended many American versions of the Oktoberfest since I have moved here. Since I have joined a Bavarian folk dance group, I am now also performing at plenty of these events; the weeks of performances have become a fifth season with its own traditions, atmosphere, and energy.

Performance at the Sacramento Turnverein Octoberfest

Performance at the Sacramento Turnverein Octoberfest

Audience Participation at the Sacramento Turnverein Octoberfest

Audience Participation at the Sacramento Turnverein Octoberfest

Since joining the Bavarian folk dance group at the beginning of the year, I have learned about other German and Austrian folk dance groups in North America, which are organized into something called a Gau [which I see as odd choice but more about this some other time]. A whole new sub-culture has revealed itself. The irony for me is that I have learned more about traditional Austrian and Bavarian dress, hairstyles, dances, and songs than I have ever known when I actually lived in Austria. Now that I am living in the U.S., I dance landler and polkas and dress in a dirndl nearly every weekend day throughout September and October while I would not have been caught dead at these events as a teenager in Austria. I am not sure if this change had occurred because I am now older or because I have moved away from Austria or maybe it is a mixture of both.

Bavarian Phrases Deemed Important at an Octoberfest

Bavarian Phrases Deemed Important at an Octoberfest

Gingerbread Hearts Imported from Germany at an Octoberfest in California

Gingerbread Hearts Imported from Germany at an Octoberfest in California

No matter the reason, I am fully enjoying my first Oktoberfest season as dancer and the camaraderie of the other dancers. Many of the other dancers do have German or Austrian roots, but few were actually born and raised in Austria or Germany. Many of the dancers in the U.S. dream about attending the Oktoberfest in Munich and some do make the trip and walk in the official parade. Germans seem rather surprised and a little confused by the strong support for Bavarian culture by the Americans as seen by this news segment by Bavarian Public Television: http://www.br.de/mediathek/video/sendungen/abendschau-der-sueden/amerikaner-bayern-100.html

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Dirndl and Lederhosen

Row of dirndl

Row of Dirndl in an Austrian Dress Store

A dirndl – and respectively a lederhosen (for both men and women) – is always a good choice of outfit for any occasion in Upper Austria and most other parts of Austria. It is a versatile clothing option that I wish I could wear more often and without odd stares in the States. Dirndls come in cotton and in silk and thus are ready for any occasion: work, shopping, dinner, parties, weddings, and even fancy evening balls. Of course, a dirndl is always an appropriate option for traditional events or church.

Dirndl

Modern Dirndl

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Lipizzaner [White Horses] Dirndl – My Favorite in the Store

 

In addition, a dirndl can be short or long, come with long sleeves or short sleeves, and easily be changed with a different apron or blouse. Many dirndl patterns and fabrics are very traditional and represent specific towns, regions, or states while many modern dirndl share just the basic style with the traditional gowns.

Marching Band

Dirndl and Lederhosen Worn by an Austrian Marching Band