BRN-Bunte Republik Neustadt
The Bunte Republik Neustadt is a festival that can’t be compared to any other I’ve been to. Two words could sum it up, I guess: “out there.” If I had to use one word, then: “weird.” If you’re a friend of mine and you don’t live in Dresden, then get your little rear over here and experience it for yourself. But only while it’s still light because there is a large crowd who devote themselves to drinking during this festival and by Saturday night there is usually a riot from opposing political parties. Don’t forget to watch the video at the end of this post.
Here’s a quick word from the English Wikipedia page:
The Name Bunte Republik refers to Bundesrepublik (federal republic), as it was founded in 1990, the year after the Wende in East Germany, before it joined the West German Bundesrepublik Deutschland (BRD). Originally the BRN was meant as a kind of a free state, in this time of change. In the first years it even had a “fun”-government and a currency (Neustadtmark). Bunt means multi-colored in German.
During the festival, the streets are closed off in this area, the streets are filled with vendors selling food and drink, DJs playing music and live bands. It is attended by every age group and class of citizen. In 2006, more than 150,000 people attended, and over 100 bands played in the streets and parks of this area. In total, it presents more than 1000 artists.
Beginning in 2001, several BRN’s were overshadowed by rioting, as a result of which glass bottles are now forbidden, and the BRN is usually guarded by strong police forces.
If you read German, here’s a better description from the German Wikipedia page.
Here are the top ten things we witnessed today at the BRN:
1. Mohawks, mohawks, mohawks.
And I don’t mean the Native American tribe. Also, I should add that by the end of the day we were playing a game with the kids as we walked around counting the number of different colored mohawks that we saw. Extra points for two or more colors!
2. The color black.
Though this festival is the “Colorful” festival, black was prominent as a lot of “Goth” type people were running around.
3. Body Piercings.
I’ve gotten quite used to body piercings and have nothing against them at all. To each his own. But the sheer number and originality of piercings I saw today was quite impressive
4. International Food.
By far my favorite aspect of the BRN is the massive amount of food you have to choose from. We ate at the El Mercadito stand, run by a Mexican family in the Neustadt who have a permanent store as well. We had authentic Tostadas and Burritos! We also picked up some cotton candy for the kids (almost like it is in the States), and as we also picked up an Empanada from a Colombian couple who had set up a card table full of food in front of their apartment. Food ranged from big vendors to family run stores who had set up tents to just your average ‘Joe’ who made some goodies that morning and put them out on a table to sell in front of his apartment to earn some pocket change.
5. People we know.
We ran into families from Olivia’s school, our neighbors from our own apartment house, our LST girls with some of their readers, friends of ours and even someone we met a few years ago and gave a ride to.
6. Music–of sorts 🙂
We heard mostly speakers blasting wannabe cover artists trying to play everything from Metallica to Norah Jones. Most were uninspiring but achieved an amazing sound level which bounced off the high buildings of the narrow streets in a most annoying way. We also saw several aspiring musicians, such as the 12 year-old who had hauled his trap set down to the street and was pounding away. Chris found this fascinating. There were even “discos” that had been rigged by sticking a beam out of someone’s upstairs window over the street with strobe lights attached and a two foot high stage constructed of crates underneath.
7. Lots of useless junk.
Especially on Talstrasse where there are traditionally no official vendors allowed, families had strewn their junk all over the street in a strange attempt to sell it. This worked on a lot of people and was even quite interesting to look at. There were also a number of what I can only term “inventions” that seemed like they might work, but I was too afraid to try. This street is also supposed to be the Kinderzirkus street and there was an interesting “area” (booth is too fancy of a word) where these two ladies were advertising “dress up and take a polaroid.” They had a bunch of old trunks of dress-up clothes, makeup and various paraphernalia. The kids dressed up, got made up and then got an old fashioned polaroid. Cost: 3 Euro. Oh, and, of course, they had some home-baked goodies they were also selling on the side 🙂
Of course, anyone who’s been to Germany will see alcohol everywhere, but it’s really prominent at the BRN. However, since 2001, no glass bottles are supposed to be allowed (but again, you’ve got all the residents bringing out to the street what they’ve got in their fridges and cellars, so you’re bound to have some) but that doesn’t stop tons of drinks being sold in plastic cups.
Lots of police patrol the borders of the BRN since the riots started back in 2001. This is mostly due from what I understand to either differences in political views or just plain ornery drunk folks.
Everywhere we went there was something new and different to see. This festival truly has people from all different classes, ages and races participating and/or enjoying the festivities and is truly a wonder to behold!
Here is a video of last year’s BRN that I found on Youtube: