Are Beer Festivals Inherently Heterosexual?
Living in Germany there are a few cultural events and traditions that are just too difficult to try to avoid. One of the most seemingly important parts of German culture is that frothy amber drink, beer. And what better place to consumer beer than in that most German festival: the beer festival. I’ve seen it reported that Germany drinks 107 liters of beer per capita—which is a whole lot of beer if you stop to think about it. “Kneipe”s (sort of like dive bars) are one of the most authentic places to get a good German brew, but then there’s the beer festivals. In Berlin, the Beer Festival, but most famously in Germany, Munich’s Oktoberfest. And then this year I discovered a beer festival I’d never known about: the Cannstatter Wasen in Stuttgart.
Now listen: I like beer. I like it quite a bit, actually. In America I was a big fan of my local brews, Sam Adams and, of course, Harpoon IPAs. Plus there’s that whole craft beer craze. In Berlin you can buy beer for as little as 0.60€ in spaetis and convenience shops. It’s not my favorite beer, but hey, when you need to drink, a drink’s a drink. So with my indifferent approach to beer in Germany, I decided to attend Stuttgart’s autumn beer festival with a bit of trepidation.
In my mind, beer festivals are pretty much the epitome of straight culture. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s something I’ve probably seen on Stuff White People Like. There’s something just so heterosexual about a huge festival dedicated to drinking oversized jugs of beer in a tent full of people in funny clothes dancing on benches (NOT the tables), singing songs with arms around strangers and consuming sausage and knödel balls like there’s no tomorrow.
Wait a minute…
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Okay, I’m being purposefully glib here. Beer festivals are really just festivals—there’s no hetero-normative or homosexual agenda to them I suppose. In fact, Munich’s Oktoberfest famously has one day during the event where a tent goes completely gay. In Berlin, the admittedly weak Octoberfest celebrations include a weekly gay night at the Gaywiesn. (OMG look at these photos!)
I approached Stuttgart’s Cannstatter Wasen thinking it’d be totally hetero-normative. Reports from others who’ve been to Oktoberfest celebrations usually talk about the lack of inhibitions and free-flowing friendliness (read: sex). For a gay guy at the Wasen, I didn’t expect to casually find any other gays (which I didn’t) but it didn’t matter: the crowd was super fun, the beer was good (or I was just drunk) and the music was the perfect mix of embarrassing hits and German folk songs. Would I go to a beer festival again? Definitely. It’s a lot of fun with friends straight or gay, but I think I’d also love to go on one of the gay days. I imagine the music’s a bit more to my taste (and the lederhosen, oh the lederhosen!)….