The Bavarian Schuhplattlers
“I am going to go in front of you, because I am older”.
This is the line our 86 year-old friend uses to bee-line in front of us. We exchange a few german words and before long he is off again to gently weasel his way to the front of the bar and successfully orders his 6 Warsteiners before the show.
Standing in front of us is the ex-consul of Germany and he asks Klaus where is from.
“A fellow Leipziger! I come from Leipzig too! Let me buy you a beer”.
As I stand there with a grin, once again witnessing the all too familiar small world moments, we later find ourselves seated together with a fun group who are finishing their graduate studies at the UofA – a few Canadians, a Costa Rican, and an Australian.
Then the show begins. The Heimatabend was titled “Cirque d’Ole” and the organized event is a fundraiser for the Bavarian Schuhplattlers, whose mission is to preserve the German tradition of folk dancing and culture.
As per Google, Schuhplattler is a traditional dance in the Alpine regions of Bavaria and Austria used back in the day for the men to impress upon young women.
Through our years dabbling with the German Canadian Cultural Association (we are guilty that it is rare), I’ve learned that they are a group of friends who have twined to be more like family, tied through common ancestry and/or interests. Apart from wanting to maintain a smidgen of German culture in a city 7280km away from the mothership, they are more about having fun and creating a microcosm to help some feel more at home.
The lion of the Cirque d’Ole, in lederhosen
Back at the party there is traditional Schuhplattler dancing, live accordion music blaring across the room with elegant ballroom and not-so-coordinated dancers, a variety show with pleasant slap-stick humour, bonding with long-time-no-see friends and mingling with new acquaintances all the while drinking beer and munching on pretzels the size of steering wheels.
The Herr Klein and the ringmaster’s assistant
Dancing in lederhosen, yodeling, beer and pretzels are representations of the southern part of Germany so that explains why I didn’t see any of this – other than the beer part – while living in Leipzig (East Germany). Although different, it was really nice to be able to practice my rusty German and to be reassured that we fit somewhere in-between.
“My grandfather still lives in Leipzig”, later says our long-time friend at the party. What a small world.
I can’t help but think again that the gap is closing between Edmonton and Leipzig.
Have a Happy Easter everyone!!