Crawling into my tent covered in mud, spew and who the fuck knows what else, barefoot with near-dreadlocks and the world’s worst hangover, I collapse next to my friend Liv and manage to croak, “What is this place?” “Oktoberfest,” she replied.
Let’s rewind. A mere few days ago I emailed a travel company who hired volunteers for the Euro festival circuit and asked if they had any positions for up and coming rad shit. Basically, they set up hundreds of tents and a portable bar in camping grounds close to these festivities and volunteers can work for free booze, toasted sandwiches and a tent. Sounds like a pretty good deal right? Well if you’re broke (and completely insane) it is a pretty good deal.
Sitting in a coffee shop one afternoon in Barcelona with Liv I receive a reply: “If you can get to Munich in the next few days, you have a job for two weeks.”
We bought winter coats from a thrift shop and found ourselves on a plane to Germany the next morning.
I’m not going to lie: the fortnight following is a bit patchy. Visions of sunflower fields, steins, rollercoasters, schnitzel and giant stuffed tigers tend to blend together when I reminisce. Every morning we woke to Chitty Bang’s Pursuit of Happiness blaring and staff snorting lines on the breakfast table.
Our first job was checking in 300 American college students. Fuck me, right? The first thing a chick in tight gym clothes carrying her own pink pillow asked me was whether there was WI-FI in the tents. We poured complimentary beers and took the groups to their humble abodes. Every second tent I led them to I bailed ASAP before they found the broken zips, holes or sometimes if they were super lucky, urine and faeces stains.
We worked when we wanted, literally white-girl wasted the entire time, and had days off to wear our lederhosens and dirndls and jump on the metro, miraculously finding our way to Oktoberfest. The beer halls were full of loud, jolly Germans and travellers, dressed up and completely fucked. German beer maids resembling Shrek with a huge rack carried six steins each and the bands on platforms in the middle of the halls played cheery tunes. Aussie tourists started a thing called a “shoey” and stood on the table sculling beer from a dirty shoe. Traditionally, men would get up on tables and attempt to skull their litre of beer for a cheering crowd. This is harder than it looks. One dude managed to down the entire stein of yeasty goodness and then vomit it up all over himself. The crowd went wild.
Liv and I ran the hotdog stand back at the campsite; we drank sangria in the sunshine, boiling bratwurst. We were notorious for hosting eating competitions and hotdog games which creatively consisted of tying a sausage covered in mustard on string, high on a tree branch and blindfolding our customers, spinning them three times and making them jump with mouths open to try and get a bite. We even increased the levels, placing a garbage bin under the hanging meat. Only very brave or drunk customers tried this one. They had to run and jump over the rather tall bin, catching the sausage in their mouths and as they jumped. They ended up tripping over the bin and faceplanting into dirt. We gave them a free dog for their efforts.
When guests had left and it was packing up time, staff joined forces and our manager came around with durries and a shot of jaeger to help us get through the challenging task of taking down tents and tipis. We found interesting bits and pieces aside from spew, human feces, condoms and water bottles of urine; which really perplexes me, as I can’t comprehend the laziness of a human being to not just walk outside for a whiz or hit the loo for a number two. In amongst semen-covered sleeping bags we found cool jackets, onesies, rings and phones, money and something I still have with me. It was a little German pin, which I will keep to remember that absolutely bizarre experience for the rest of my life.
On the plane home, half conscious, probably with an STD and liver disease, I realised to get out of that place alive, I was Oktoberblessed.