One moment in time: The March “Oktoberfest” (October festival) in Vientiane

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We had some special guests from Germany only two weeks after our own arrival: The trombone choir “Floss”, named after their hometown. Fifteen brass musicians from Bavaria arrived on the 27th of February and stayed in Laos for a whole week. Madame Engel had had the great idea to invite the fifteen musicians from her hometown.

It was also the time around the German Ambassador’s birthday and thus a great chance to combine the two events, i.e. to celebrate his birthday and bring a little piece of Mme Engel’s home to Vientiane.

The “Oktoberfest” is the world’s largest beer festival, and it goes back to October 1810 when Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese in Bavaria and the wedding was celebrated with a large feast which included horse races. It was the first “Oktoberfest”, and since then it has become a great attraction, not only to Germans but also to international visitors.

The original festival is held in Munich from mid or late September to the first weekend in Oktober. As the popularity of the “Oktoberfest” increased tremendously over the last few years, it is now celebreated around the world. And this is also why we can call our Oktoberfest in Vientiane the “March Oktoberfest”!

To start with, the entire Jupend Street in Vientiane was closed in preparation of the “Oktoberfest”. The street was decorated beautifully with traditional Bavarian garlands, and there were lights everywhere – a great atmosphere on a warm summer night.

Madame Engel, the Angels for Children foundation, and the Ambassador provided the visitors with delicious traditional Bavarian “Oktoberfest” food. There was a wide variety, amongst other things a big barbecue with traditional German sausages, delicious tiny pretzels, and “Fleischkäse”, which is a type of boiled meat loaf and very popular in Germany. Furthermore, they served some special drinks such as lemon grass juice and hibiscus juice, and, of course, beer Lao.

For the Embassy employees and us it was a special treat to have traditional German food 24,000 km away  from home and to share it with our Laotian and other guests, who also enjoyed the food very much – they came from all over the world, e.g. Japan, France, and Russia.

Little by little more and more guests arrived.

At 6.30 p.m. the musicians started their one-hour concert in their tradititonal Bavarian folk gear, which is “Dirndl” for the girls and “Lederhosen” for the boys. A “dirndl” is the name of a traditional feminine dress worn in Bavaria, South Tyrol, and Austria, and is a light circular cut dress, low-cut at the bosom and gathered at the waist, that falls below the knee. “Lederhosen” (leather trousers) are traditional masculine breeches made of leather and usually short or knee-length.

The band started with the German National Anthem and continued with traditional Bavarian music. Modern songs like “One moment in time” by Whitney Houston were played as well. The band presented a diversified repertory, which could be enjoyed by many people. The concert was followed by a short break for meals and drinks.

The program continued with a karate show by some of the pupils of the Phang Heng Secondary School  to provide cultural variety for all the visitors. It was really interesting to see those two different cultures being presented in one program.

Later the trombone band played their final songs, and then we celebrated far into the night together.

Website of the trombone band: Posaunenchor Floss

Text by V. Dariou
Photos by R. Dengler & L. Jakob

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