20 APRIL 2008 :: THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE TELEVISED
Inspired by my friend Fiona, I am sat alone in a bar in Hackescher Markt, my favourite part of what use to be East Berlin. I've just spent the afternoon dancing in the streets at an impromptu rave, much to the amusement of passing tourists. Fiona recently suggested to me that like her, I am a collector of stories and experiences. This one felt too good to let slip away so I have quite literally put pen to every available scrap of paper I have on me!
Earlier this morning HJ and his friend from Berlin decided they wanted to see Potsdam. Being on holiday and therefore in no mood to be objectionable I agreed to go along. It was decided that the best thing to do was get on a bus tour, once we worked out what we wanted to see we could get off and walk around.
I was dubious but still in no mood to be the one to make a scene. I nervously took my seat on the bus and put my headphones on to get the english language tour. Predictably the moment the bus set off and the tour commentary started I began to regret not voicing my objections....My god did I regret not voicing my objections!!
A few minutes into the journey we began to hear the low rumble of bass coming from somewhere. The bus turned a corner and we were almost on top of the source of the music. A group of people had set up dex and a sound system on the side of the road and were blissfully dancing away in the sunlight. A couple of the ravers turned and waved to the bus, broad smiles beaming across their faces.
I pressed the palm of my hand to the window and like a small child made to go to grandma's while all his friends play in the street, I gazed longingly at the party just meters away from me. The bus moved on and I remained trapped inside. I sat.... and sat.... and sat.... Trying my best to stop thinking about the little rave and listen to the tedious guide explain various parts of Prussia. (Doesn't he play for the New York Rangers? No, no, no, that's crazy talk! What are they saying about that building over there?) EVENTUALLY the bus stopped! Daylight! Fresh air! FREEDOM!!
In no mood for subtly I turned to HJ and said "I'd ditching you guys." He looked at me as if to say take me with you. I shook my head and told him I was going to walk back to the party. He understood and I seized the opportunity to leave without ever looking back. It took about 20 minutes to walk back, (at a serious pace, I was a man on a mission!) thankfully police had not broken up the crowd and I was able to make my way back to the party.
Not knowing the language and feeling a little out of place I sat myself against a wall and quietly boogied in my seat, occasionally sharing knowing smiles with other partygoers. Having spent time quietly sitting and enjoying the music I wanted to become part of what was unfolding before me. Too self conscious to just walk into the middle of the crowd I decided to approach the DJ and make myself known.
"Guten tag. Nein sprechen sie Deutsch. Sprechen sie Englisch?" He clearly had a far, FAR elevated sense of well being and euphoria to the one I had! It took him some time to digest my phrase, before he finally managed to chew through the words "I speak English". I told him I was Australian and I thought this was incredible. I asked if people would mind if I took some photos to show my friends back home?
"You are the first person who has been kind enough to ask". He then struggled to focus both eyes on me at the same time, lay a welcoming arm across my shoulders and smile as he said "Not if you start dancing after." I was suddenly embarrassed by my desire to photograph people, I very quickly snapped off a few photos before fulfilling my side of the agreement and shaking my stuff in front of the dex with everyone else. Having bridged the gap from spectator to participant I was welcomed with open arms. I was soon given many warm smiles and a warm beer to drink while dancing.
Having danced my heart out it was eventually time for me to move on, smiling blissfully as I walked away, having reinforced my idea that the experiences we learn the most from, rarely come from tedious lectures and are nearly always found in the streets, with your peers, when you least expect it.
Little by little, one travels far.
J. R. R. Tolkien