Preview: Karneval der SubKulturen

Detail of the Koepi's frontage
What's alternative about the Carnival of Cultures?  Everything and nothing.  Every culture that you'll see there - on a float, at a stall or onstage - will be some kind of an alternative to Berlin's indigenous culture.   The jerk chicken and samba bands will seem exotic to some of us for sure.  But then again, there are also parts of India and Africa where eating currywurst and drinking beer with fake raspberry syrup in it may seem exotic. It's all a matter of perspective.

The Karneval der Kulturen (May 22-25) was founded in Berlin in 1996 to combat the growing tide of nationalistic racism in the former East German capital.  Some would say that it also afforded the local prols (chavs) an excellent opportunity to work on their fake tans and get dressed up in pastel colours and bling-bling.  (Many seem to have taken that idea and run with it).

Some of the true minority cultures that are visible on the streets of Berlin (African, Jamaican, Turkish) will feature largely at the KDK though. Balkan and TurPop are two well-represented genres, and YAAM will do its ubiquitous reggae float at the street parade on Sunday

But if you're in the mood for something even more marginal than that, then check out the vast listing for Karneval performances - which will host more than a million people and 4,000 performers - by clicking here. You're bound to find something exotic... by your definitions, anyway! 

On the more 'local' end of the cultural spectrum, the Koepi will be hosting a parade and festival centered of its own.  The Karneval Der Subkulturen will focus on all the marginalized strands of German home-grown cultures: hip hop, punk, doomcore, speedcore and "industrial carnival" will be some of the sounds emananting from the gig space and cellar of the Kreuzberg punk squat located on Koepernickerstrasse.  Subhumanz (a.k.a. Citizen Fish) and Doom are two of the bands that will play... they may ring a bell for English readers of this blog or those of you who are into punk and crust.

A trad Namibian hairdo would fit in on any runway

While Berlin celebrates the exotic cultures that have been imported here from abroad, it is worth remembering that the Senate is continually squeezing alternative culture projects (like the Koepi) out of existence to replace them with something that makes more money.  Talk about stealing from Peter to pay Paul.

There are probably plenty of Germans out there who view Berlin's artists, activists, hedonists, designers, fashionistas and punk buskers as layabouts.  Yet when women in Namibia spend hours putting ochre and mud in their hair, or making elaborate bead trinkets to display, it's taken for granted that they probably aren't thinking about mortgages and unemployment rates (although anything is possible). If you only spare the cultures that generate revenues, you will always end up with a monoculture in the end. That's ethnic food for thought as Berlin heads outdoors this weekend to celebrate the culture of others.

For an African-American view of the Karneval, you can check out this entry by Black Girl in Berlin.   

Visuals at HI World Conference
Hedonist International is holding its third annual conference-festy weekender somewhere between Hamburg, Brandenburg and Berlin.  Sadly it's sold out, but it sounded promising enough for me to give it a plug as an idea for next year.  Yes, these are the same people who give their demonstrations names like 'Wet Dreams'.  They sound fun.  Here's a blurb about the conference from their site:

"Hedonist International was founded in 2006, in order to try and field test politics. It centers [on] action, which can mean a nude group visiting overpriced flats, or demonstrations for freedom and human rights, or doing gramophone concerts in Swiss homes for the elderly."   Each of their World Congresses has three parts - party, action and politics - and the events are ad hoc, freeform, and can discuss everything from gardening and food to drugs to social theory and new forms of direct action.  And of course, there's cool music to go with.

Another weekender happening in the countryside around Berlin is the bass-x-travaganza called Wax Treatment @ Kiekebusch Openair (near. Schoenefeld). It costs 15-25 Euros, lasts two days and features dnb, dub, and all the attendant fringe genres associated with those two things.

Have a great weekend!

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Berlin, Germany
...is NOT a fashion blogger! I write about underground music, activism, social media rights. Other publications that I have written for: OpenDemocracy, Urban Challenger, Siegesaeule, Alternative Berlin and Sensanostra.