I went to the Oktoberfest, the Real Thing, in Munich!! Well, there I was doing, um, pretty much nothing properly structured, and then there was the marvellous Indian summer across Europe, and I found a Dirndl skirt and blouse in Oxfam. Well, given those circumstances and a friend in Munich, wouldn't YOU have gone along? To be honest, Oktoberfest hadn't really crossed my consciousness until I got to Germany, not being particularly into beer, but I reckoned that it was an opportunity not to be missed, hopped on a train (I spent the entire four hours finishing sewing together the apron which I was assured was a must, and replacing the buttons on the knitted tank-top thingy).
I was rewarded with the most perfect day imaginable, and an amazing feeling of... togetherness?... from the sheer percentage of the attendees who were dressed up appropriately. I can't think of anything I've ever attended that had so MANY people joining in properly. Costume parties in England tend to encompass a lot of fabulously-dressed women and a gaggle of sulking men, hideously embarrassed at the whole situation and snagged between being annoyed that they didn't dare to dress up and irritated that they were asked to in the first place. Here, just about EVERYONE joined in - the effect was most visible from the Big Wheel, where the crowd (apparently two million on that day!) looked amazingly colourful. So much less black and dark brown than normal - many men wearing Lederhosen and pastel checked shirts, and the women in all colours of the rainbow. In fact, the Dirndls reminded me strongly of the arguments for classical music. The basic costume is simple, and you'd maybe think that after having seen a few you'd be bored. However, in an entire day, seeing literally thousands of women in every possible iteration of the theme, I didn't see a single repetition of the same outfit. Classic theme; infinite interpretations. Loved it!