Saturday evening was the Eurovision Song Contest. I was gutted* that I couldn't stay home and watch it together with a large bottle of Rosé and some cheese puffs but we had another invitation, to my neighbour's 40th birthday party.
We've been in Germany four years now (in June) and this is the first such invitation we've had (we have another similar biggie in 2 weeks, what is they say about buses**?) My friend Rebecca has been to several 40th parties and I had been very surprised by her description of the events.
It seems that many German parties include entertainment, and by entertainment I'm not talking about a band and a magician/comedian, oh no. Entertainment German stylee more often than not includes a powerpoint presentation to start with, of the birthday boy/girl's years to date, then there could well be songs/skits performed by the birthday boy/girl usually aided and abetted by close family and friends and then if that's not enough there could well be games for the whole party to join in.
Now my neighbours are lovely, lovely people who are, to my mind, 'echter Deutcher Mensch'***, they take Karneval seriously - the planning of their outfits for the February/March parties and parades starts before Christmas. And bearing this in mind I was expecting the party to be full on German, presentation, skits, games. We turned up and the venue was a converted cellar under the old railway station (don't understand why it's called the old station as it's still the place where people catch their trains...) two small, vaulted rooms complete with high tables to stand at (called 'stehtisch') waitresses scurrying around serving prosecco/beer/wine, a tapas buffet (delicious) and a DJ playing in the corner but there was no sign of a screen for a presentation to be projected onto....curious. So when the birthday girl came over to chat I asked what the format was and were we to expect a presentation...flip chart even?
Nein. No. Non.
We were expected to make our own entertainment by chatting amongst ourselves, drinking, eating and dancing - how very civilised, how very unGerman!
It was a lovely evening and the other guests didn't even let me down in their dress. I have noticed that despite all the pretty party clothes one can buy in the shops when Germans go out they don't make any effort to dress up - bizarre. Every single woman in the room last night was wearing jeans (even the birthday girl - although at least hers were white) and most of the tops were of a dark hue - the most adventurous being sequined. I had anticipated this and dressed accordingly - brown linen trousers with heels (rarely worn) and a gorgeous pink top, I was determined not to be mistaken as a native! The next party in to weeks time will take more sartorial planning as the invitation clearly states 'leisure clothing', if there's someone there in an Adidas tracksuit I think I'll leave!
* We make a point of watching the show every year, although most years I swear I will never sully my mind with it again (mostly because I get fed up with the political voting that seems to go on) we have even managed to indoctrinate Jasmine into it - she takes it as seriously as we do...not necessarily a good thing I know!
** never around when you want one and then two come along at the same time.
*** have quite probably got my adjectival endings wrong (sorry Muna) but this is the phrase I used to them both last night, they are 'real German folk'.