Blog Goes Abroad: Oktoberfest


You might have noticed some photos like the above clogging your newsfeed this week. For all those juniors on-campus who feel confused (and annoyed) about Oktoberfest, we’re republishing an old post that puts the #abroad drinking fest in Brown terms.  Two blog writers attended the event in Munich, Germany a few years ago, and in a beer-induced nostalgia for Brown, they compared the infamous event to aspects of Brown’s social scene, including the Whiskey Republic, a frat basement party, and Spring Weekend’s Dave Binder concert.  

The differences between Oktoberfest and the three aforementioned Brown social venues are obvious—Oktoberfest takes place in Munich, Germany in tents that hold up to 10,000 people. However, you may be surprised to learn just how many “comforts” of home we found in such a foreign landscape of debauchery.  Among the lederhosen and drindls, we literally stumbled upon the same infamous characters and qualities that are quintessential to the Brown party scene:

1. Oktoberfest vs. Whisko

  • Aggressive bouncers: Count your lucky stars that Whiskey’s bouncers aren’t German-speaking, whistle-wielding body builders from hell. These guys were literally employed by Satan himself. Who thought we’d miss the sassy Whisko guards that we’ve all come to know and hate/love?
  • Bathroom stampede: We all know that the girls’ bathroom at Whiskey is always a shit-show. Well, that has NOTHING on the corralling of females taking place behind the scenes at Oktoberfest. We use the word “corralling” intentionally: the stalls were literally in a barn off the tent and we were but helpless cattle. If you weren’t careful, you could be dragged out of a sneaky back door under the false promise that there were “extra stalls” outside. Once outside, you became crudely aware of the fact that there was no getting back in. Let’s just say that only the most dire bladder pains would tempt us into that bathroom. Oh to be back in the toilet-paper-strewn, overcrowded restroom of the Whiskey Republic.

  • Unexpected encounters. Never thought you’d see your TA throwing back brews? We can say the same for our middle-school bullies. Oktoberfest and Whisko both attract the most unexpected characters from all walks of life. Seeing familiar faces in unfamiliar places is guaranteed to destroy first impressions and create some memorable second ones. Think it’s awkward seeing your CHEM33 partner gettin’ down on the dance floor? Try witnessing your 2005 Camp Ramah boyfriend making out with a girl in a dirndl.

2. Oktoberfest vs. Frat Basement Party

  • Sticky floors: Self-explanatory. Needless to say, our white converse aren’t white anymore.
  • Beer-soaked hair: Can’t say we missed this “party favor.” Upside of Oktoberfest: the beer is of a higher quality than the frats’ Natty Light and is thus somewhat more bearable. Downside: in the event that someone did spill beer on us, we found ourselves doused in the contents of a one-liter glass mug, which is a lot worse than being soaked by the contents of a red Solo cup.
  • PDA/DFMOs: For some reason, people universally think that excessive amounts of booze functions in the same way that Harry’s invisibility cloak does. Believe it or not, we can all see you playing tonsil-hockey. At least in a frat, it’s happening after dark; at Oktoberfest, the PDA kicks off as early as 11 a.m. Not only is there no cloak of invisibility, there’s not even the cover of darkness.

3. Oktoberfest vs. Binder

  • Singing and dancing in unison:  In lieu of drunk Brunonians singing along to “The Unicorn Song” and “American Pie” on Wriston, drunk Germans reveled in “The Chicken Dance (Polka Edition)” and countless rounds of the German traditional drinking song. Luckily for us, alcohol-induced camaraderie needs no translation. The Polka band even gifted us with a rendition of “Sweet Caroline,” to the delight of 5,000 American study-abroad students.
  • Stellar combo of booze and food: The most important aspect of heavy partying is to maintain a healthy balance between bites and booze. At Binder, this means a hearty pre-game of Sigma surf n’ turf complemented by a post-game stint at the Ratty. At Oktoberfest, think more along the lines of soft pretzels the size of your head, cheesy spaetzle, and individual rotisserie chickens (YOU get a chicken, and YOU get a chicken). (Georgia: Just ask Sydney—she managed to purchase every miscellaneous food item that was sold by be-drindl’d waitresses. Needless to say, she made lots of friends that day.)

Moral of the story: whether you’re in Providence, RI or Munich, Germany, you’ll always leave the party with beer in your hair as long as there’s heavy drinking involved.

A previous version of this post was published by BlogDailyHerald in October 2013.

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