This weekend was the BRN, the Bunte Republik Neustadt festival, here in my neighborhood. I've been away from Dresden on the BRN weekend for the last 5 years due to other commitments, but this year I stayed on board and even took on a fun project: I organized a stand for the non-profit organization that sponsors our Kinderhaus, cocolores e.V. Now, all of you know how I love our Kinderhaus, so it was a pleasure for me to do this very big job.
Here's a picture from behind the scenes at our stand: you can see the table, the coffee, the delicious cake and the happy visitors!
Here's a view down the street where we had our stand, Talstrasse. Talstr. is known as being the children's street of the BRN, but I like it there the best because it has the neatest stands. It's not only stuff for kids, but also creative cooks who only take donations for their food, people with vegan sushi like the guys next to us, and the physicist Rocket Ulf who shoots empty pop bottles, rolls of toilet paper and other objects high into the air. We were lucky to have a roof over our heads, because Rocket Ulf's rockets kept coming down right on us. A friend of mine even set up a table on this street with an "Unprofessional Tailor Shop": an iron, a sewing machine, some fabric and buttons and sewed things on people's clothes like flowers, buttons, pockets, whatever they desired for free! That's the spirit!
Here are the guys at our stand building a giant marble run...or as one viewer of this picture said, "There's the engineer solving world hunger while the two managers drink coffee". The marble run was definitely a favorite for the crowd, the kids and adults loved it. One kid even showed up with a giant tin of marbles and just went nuts. My kid also lost it when he saw the giant marble run. I think somebody at my house might get a room-size marble run for their next birthday...
Like I said, it's been a while since I've been at a BRN. It's something I have mixed feelings about anyway. The first time I heard of it, it sounded great, almost like a giant, quirky, neighborhood flea market, with the people in the neighborhood coming out of their apartments, bringing tables and chairs out onto the street, eating and drinking and doing fun projects together. But when I saw it, it didn't look so much like this, except on Talstrasse and a few other little corners and alleys. To me the rest of the BRN looked like any other street festival: loud music, food stands, stands selling t-shirts, clothes, jewelry, and of course, beer. Oh, yeah, and aggressive neo-Nazis and anti-fascists and police in riot gear. Nothing too surprising, nothing horrifying, but certainly not at all like the warm, fuzzy, artsy event that had been described to me. This year was at least peaceful. There were still loads of police everywhere, but not in riot gear. You could talk to them like normal people, I had to ask about driving in on Saturday morning to haul the tables and stuff for the stand. They weren't weird like they had been in earlier years, and they had normal uniforms on. They also weren't so militant about searching every bag, pocket and crevice that entered the festival area for glass bottles as they had been in earlier years. I think this led to a more relaxed atmosphere. I didn't hear about any riots and there were no helicopters hovering overhead constantly, even on Saturday night. Late Saturday night the most annoying things were the mingling stench of urine and the aroma of the food stands along with all the staggering drunks on the streets.
Most of the live music on offer didn't really tickle my fancy, some of the DJs were playing tunes that I like, but dancing isn't so much my thing. My favorite spectacle from Saturday night was "Balkon Rap", some guys rapping from a balcony. These guys were obviously having a lot of fun, they had a giant crowd, and rapping from a balcony has this weird reference to political leaders giving propaganda speeches from their little balconies and yet, it's rap! That has a flair that I like. It was cool.
So, in the end, what it comes down to is that the BRN once again didn't change my life with its more or less nonexistant warm-and-fuzziness, it wasn't horrible, our stand was great, and I really liked Talstrasse as I always do. There were some very neat ideas and activities on offer, and masses and masses of lame, run-of-the-mill stuff. So I guess there was something for everyone. But I'll do it again next year, because it was fun to see the twinkle in older people's eyes when they saw our potato printing project, I loved watching the kids just go crazy for the marble run, giving people cake always makes my day (especially when repeat customers gobble up an entire batch of real American brownies still warm from the oven in 15 minutes!!!), and I'll take any chance I get to tell people how great the Kinderhaus is in a heartbeat.