“Nic, why do you not have any Lederhosen?” As I pondered this question, I began to realise my sartorial faux pas. Looking around the beer tent at the Augsberg Volksfest, I was possibly one of only several people not wearing the traditional garb of the Bavarian. The longer I live in Germany, and the more events I attend here, the more I wonder if the investment in a some leather shorts is such a bad idea. After all, when I lived in Scotland I had no problem donning a kilt, when the occasion demanded. I stood out like a sore thumb from my friends, although I had attempted to find the most Bavarian item of clothing available in my wardrobe. At any Volksfest, a chequered shirt is a prerequisite. More importantly it should be blue and white, the colours of Bavaria. Red and white will do, but if I’m going to do it, I might as well do it right.
However, all things considered, Lederhosen is probably the most impractical form of clothing ever invented. Sure they might look good, in an entirely German kind of way. Sadly, unlike most German ideas, Lederhosen seem to have been created by some fiendishly sadistic fashion designer. Let’s think about it: Lederhosen are worn on special occasions, most of which involve sitting in a sweaty tent, while consuming 1 litre glasses of beer (Ein Mass). So, what is possibly the worst thing a gentleman could gird his loins with in a warm environment? Leather. The second major problem can only fully be realised when you enter the gents W.C.
One thing you might notice at any traditional event in Germany is that the queue for the gents toilet is as long as that of the ladies. As anyone who has ever attended an outdoor event can attest, woman draw the short straw when it comes to the amenities. It is a given that women will have to wait, as scores of men merrily wander into the toilet and wander back out without any sign of diminishing numbers on the women’s side. Therefore, when you come to find that the queue for the men is as long, if not longer than the women’s, you know something is defiantly amiss. This is because Lederhosen are essentially the Rubix Cube of clothing.
Unlike the Scottish kilt, the Lederhosen have more buttons and flaps that require the user to negotiate a labyrinth in order to simply relieve yourself. The real problem occurs when you have had at least two mass (two litres) of beer. The more you drink, the more likely that some terrible accident will befall the wearer. Unlike the ingenious Scots, who went for ease of use, the Germans decided long ago that to prove your masculinity you should have to be able to navigate some kind of bizarre logic puzzle before going to the toilet. This is possibly why all beer halls or tents at these festivals are kept at such inhumanly high temperatures. By secreting the alcohol through sweat, the hope might be that the poor and befuddled won’t cause themselves the maximum amount of embarrassment.
This would also explain why so much of the evening seems to consist of furious dancing on tables and benches that groan under the weight of inebriated revellers. Then again, it doesn’t quite explain why those in attendance are challenged to drink by the on stage host at regular ten minute intervals. As a foreigner, I feel I must be missing some subtle element: Clothing that requires the full cooperation of the wearers eyes, hands and pre-frontal cortex. Seating that at any moment will either catapult someone into the air or force everyone flailing onto the floor. Musicians continually forcing everyone to neck their beers through traditional drinking songs. Cheery woman who bring giant glasses of beer at any given moment. Surely there is a key detail missing in this madness. Perhaps this wasn’t a festival. Perhaps it was actually some kind of logic based test of endurance that must be completed yearly in order to appease some demonic diety. I have no idea, but I assure you I will find out the truth next year, no matter how much beer I must drink.