“You need more cleavage.”
I’m standing in a dressing room with four German girls attempting to push my chest up as high as it will go.
“No, no.” They shake their heads. “She has too much room.”
I feel hands pulling at my dress, tightening it, and I am positive that I’m going to suffocate and die right on the spot. Although it probably sounds like I’m being molested, I am actually in Munich trying on dirndls – the traditional Bavarian women’s clothing – for Oktoberfest.
I abandoned London for the weekend to meet my boyfriend – who’s from Munich – in Germany and to celebrate the world-famous festival with him and his friends. I am lucky enough to not only experience Oktoberfest, but to have the opportunity to experience it the proper way – dress and all.
Apparently the fact that I can no longer breathe and am about to experience a Janet Jackson episode means the dirndl is perfect. Though cleavage is a necessary to the ensemble, I find myself surprised when my friend Lara strongly discourages trying on shorter styles.
“It looks so tasteless when girls show all of their legs too,” she said. “Wearing them below the knee is the traditional length.”
After experiencing Oktoberfest for two full days, I realize not only the attire, but the festival in general, is completely focused on celebrating Bavarian culture. Many Americans are under the impression that Oktoberfest is really just a “Beerfest.” I won’t deny beer definitely plays a part – a very big part – but it’s not what the holiday is about.
It’s the atmosphere inside the tents that makes Oktoberfest such an amazing experience. The mood the entire environment evokes is almost unexplainable.
A band plays music on a stage in the center of a sea of people, and everyone is having a good time. People sing, dance on tables and eat traditional Bavarian cuisine, such as roasted chickens, huge soft pretzels and cheese noodles, called “spätzle.”
I found myself, and the people I was with, not only socializing within our group but with other groups around us. Everyone is just so genuinely happy to have an opportunity to come together to celebrate, and I found myself completely immersed in the liveliness. It’s exciting to be with hundreds of thousands of people who are so passionate about their culture.
Though I couldn’t bring my camera because beer would have ended up being spilled on it, I was able to steal my friend’s camera to snap a few pictures. If the images don’t capture the atmosphere, the lyrics to the most popular Bavarian song, which is played at least five times an hour during the celebration, epitomizes the essence of Oktoberfest.
“Ein prosit (a toast), ein prosit (a toast), gemütlichkeit (surround yourself with friends and come together to be cozy and happy)!”
Natasha Shapiro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.