My First Real German Party

Last Wednesday night most of us (us = ERASMUS kids) headed out to the University’s “Atriumfete.” By day the Atrium serves as a mini-maze-center to the University’s main classroom building and has a cement sitting/standing structure thing in the middle, many pillars, and four main classroom branches (with convenient color-coded doorframes to each individual department. Ex: yellow has mainly psychology and geography classrooms.) By night the Atrium can be turned into a party zone with a dance pit lined with edges to stand and dance on. I missed the first Atrium party at the beginning of the semester and was glad I decided to go to this one. Some things on the Atrium party, however…

There was an insane amount of people when we arrived. Like everyone decided to go at 10:15 because “no one else will do that!” We waited in what I dubbed a “Wartedrache” (usually it’s Warteschlange = “waiting snake” = line/queue) because it was massive, 4-5 people wide with people butting in at every angle, and a standard pat-down right before you get in to pay. Ah, yes, we have to pay to get into almost every party here. Kind of smart, on their part. All drinks €1,50 after that (at least at the tables I saw). I experimented and brought my Flachmann with me, and had it confiscated even though there was nothing in it. What was I going to do, smuggle drink out of the party? I finally convinced one of the security guards that it was better for me to write down my name (he said it was unnecessary because no one else would be bringing a Flachmann – did I miss a memo?) because it was not a cheap toy. He commented that my name was pretty and asked where I was from. I said the U.S., but that I was Latvian. And then what does he say? “Alright, Kaija, well have a good time in the party! You can pay over there. Have fun, bye bye!” Let me add that up to that point we had been speaking German and he did not show any sign of having any clue I wasn’t German.

Note: many people, upon finding out that you can speak English, are more than thrilled to show off their skills to you, no matter how bad they are. It’s better to NOT say you’re from the U.S., unless you know for a fact that it will make the situation you’re in much easier for you. In my case, it didn’t.

Coat check €0,50. Dropping our coats off was simple. Getting them back was a whole different thing.

Party itself, very cool. Lots of blinky lights, lost of loud music, lots of people, and more attractive German guys that I have seen in one place in the 4+ months I’ve been here. Where have they been hiding?! During one bathroom break Ula and I were talking – in English – and attracted the attention of a few girls who then proceeded to beat us up for being foreigners.

But not really.

They were excited, no – elated, to hear English. Where have they been? We’re everywhere! One of them has spent either a couple of months or a couple of years (total?) in the U.S., and has a fairly decent accent. I thought she sounded like someone who was really from the U.S. but was just a little drunk (certain letters/words slurred, etc.). I told her this, and she agreed, adding that she had had a drink. The second girl had just returned 10 days ago from a semester in Australia, and expressed something close to relief that she could hear English again. The third girl… I have no clue about her, but she also spoke English. They commented my German was really good – I found it easier to talk to them in German than in English.

About the music… when we first got there the music was pretty good (Fettes Brot’s “Emanuela”, hahaha, I KNOW THE WORDS!), Greenday, and the standard U.S. party rap music. Then they slipped into the oldies: Music from “Grease”, and several other songs whose words I kind of know, but never can remember who sings them or what the song titles are. Oldies central. For well over an hour or so. Then suddenly it was 1 A.M., then 2 A.M., and then the blinky lights turned off, and the florescent ones came on (is this what people refer to as “drunk lights?”), signaling that it was almost over. We headed out to the coat check and WHA-BAM! we’re stuck in a literal smush-fest of people for over an hour, waiting impatiently while some people pushed, others pushed back (I belonged to that group – thanks, mosh-pit experiences!), while still others were crushed and started to panic and had to leave the line. I had my hands by my face, my elbow in some guy’s kidney (he kept pushing my elbow away, but it snapped back to his kidney every time because, hey, it had nowhere else to go! he deserved it, however, because he had weaseled his way in front of us 15 minutes before and was not going to get anyone’s sympathy), maintained a semi-sedated (it was warm in the mass and I was tired) chant of “Ich bin verdammt klein und kann nicht atmen!” (= I’m damned short and can’t breathe!”), and assured the guy next to me that I knew it wasn’t his fault we were being pushed. Then it got interesting because the security guards linked arms (dead serious, they linked arms for this next move) and pushed us all backwards, then seemed slightly annoyed that the mass decided to push back. You’d have thought that we were waiting in line to buy concert tickets or to high-five the Pope or something.

We finally got our coats and Efi and I went to wait for the others. I also went to retrieve my Flachmann. I did so, and then was told by the security guard woman that I “could leave now.” I told her we were waiting for some others, and she more or less said something like “you have your flask, you can go wait outside.” We were outside. I asked Efi if she would like to wait outside with me. We looked to the left of the guards where there was a metal fence less than two meters away that apparently separated “inside” from “outside”. Efi said, “I don’t know if I can. It’s kind of far.” True, Efi. And it might be cold. But we went outside. Then there was a guy fighting with the guards – he maintained that he had been doing nothing but “waiting for his (girl)friend” and “where did my bratwurst go?” He seemed more upset about his food being lost in the struggle than being forced to go “outside”. I would be, too. Bratwurst is good stuff. And it’s a harsh world outside.

Lesson/Tip: Go to at least one of the Atrium parties, know that you can’t bring anything that is/looks like it could at some point contain alcohol, be prepared to keep your coat with you the whole night or wait until the line dies down, and don’t do anything to piss the security guards off.