Germany

Munich

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The sky above the festival in Munich looked as if a young girl had applied make up to it. The zentrum was blocked off for us to perform on a massive stage. People filled the sunny street with children and beer. I stood on stage, looking about, recognizing the buildings from classroom text books and WWII footage, of roof tops that flew dominating swastika flags. The sides of these same buildings draped also with, the Nazi eagle and Iron Cross. Now, nothing red bunts these buildings and only a few small indistinctive flags flap.

The sun reflected on the crowd making their skin tight and their eyes slits. The joy of the people of Munich sailed atop this day on the rapids of the flowing foamy beer, poured to them from small stands by pleased plump men. Young kids wiggled around the base of the stage to get a peak at the American musicians and froze, casting their heads down and their eyes up if you felt and checked on their stare.

We took the stage with no applause. Got the young hippies dancing first, then the mothers jiggled with surprised faces at the babies they carried, holding one of their little hands and dipping them until they giggled. The old men liked the sound enough to slightly nod their heads; old men like when bands have horns, the sound gave them something to do as they drank their beer and talked man talk. The young girls sprang up together and danced in a circle by the third number and the boys smartened up and joined them by the fourth. The wise elders were overjoyed clapping slowly to their own beat, while children jumped up and down with their dogs running around them, barking from all the excitement. Teenagers found their own circle to dance, they knew the words and felt proud to be so smart. And the promoter of the show looked relieved and finally smiled accepting his first beer of the day.

I had learned some German, pantomimed it as I butchered the foreign words into the microphone. The crowd cheered, clapped and corrected me with spitting laughter. A few young girls had taken to the front and gawked at their favorite musicians. The promoter came on stage in mid song and handed everyone a beer, the crowd screamed “PROST-PROST-PROST” and I scream “DANKE-DANKE-PROST- PROST!” back.

As the mascara ran down over the sky, the cool air delicately introduced itself not to disturb the party and the shop lights switched off as the street lights came on. We began to play softer songs and the crowd tossed on sweaters and shawls and couples moved closer to one another. Now everyone watched with sleeves-over-hands and both hands on their drinks, that is, if you didn’t have a woman or girl to keep warm. Young men danced by holding their women from behind and swaying back and forth, while the older couples took their opportunity to show off the more elegant times, by embracing in the center, men holding their life loves assertively, spotlighted with love, executing light spins, dips with a kiss. One of the men and I enjoyed pointing out all those who kissed while we performed to one another and there were many for us to smile over. But it is not our job to leave people calm on a Friday night, so we brought the music up again and the celebration resumed.

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