After building your float and getting your costume together, it’s time to celebrate. A quick check of your wallet-sized Carneval calendar of events reveals that Saturday is “Heiligabend.” (Typically, Heiligabend is Christmas Eve. The CarnevalistInnen in Damme have simply borrowed the term for the Eve of the parade.) What the calendar does not share is that Friday night is also a night for the folks who live in Damme to feiern, celebrate. This year, that included me! I’m calling this night the Vorfreude, which is quite possibly one of my favorite German words. Freude means “joy,” which makes Vorfreude the “joy before the joy.”
Unfortunately, I had been feeling like crap all week. I probably shouldn’t have gone ice skating with a mild sore throat, but c’mon, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. On Friday, I had plans to meet up with the Steffi and the rest of the tax evaders. I decided to rally and go, but I did set an 11 p.m./3-drink maximum for myself. We met at the home of two of our group members, who gave me an INCREDIBLE Dammer Carneval CD. (I’ll save Carneval music for another post.) After a drink there, we headed downtown. We went to TUTA, as well as the Blechhotel, where one of group member’s brother was deejaying. We also went to the Enker jewelry store, whose owner had completely cleared out its stock, covered the floors and set up the store as a bar for the weekend. Another bar decided that if a jewelry store could sell alcohol, then it could sell jewelry for the weekend. The offered a special called “Kurze und Klunker,” a shot and a clunker (a piece of cheap jewelry). With the purchase of a red or white shot, the customer also received a matching tacky-ass ring. Of course, I bought one. The offer was irresistible.
In case you’re wondering how my 11 p.m./3-drink maximum worked out, it didn’t. I got home around 3:30 am, and may or may not have had more to drink. It was completely worth it.
Which brings me to Saturday, the Heiligabend. My friends from school, whom you may remember from Thanksgiving, were all meeting and crashing at my place. I have several spare rooms and beds, but I had asked that someone bring an air mattress, and that they each bring a pillow. Well. Seven women showed up at my house with multiple mattresses, sleeping bags, clothing, toiletries, drinks, snacks, and a bouquet of tulips. I don’t know if this is a German thing or a teacher thing, but they were ready for anything. Since we had decided to dress as Zorro, everyone showed up clad all in black. With all of the stuff and the black clothes and masks, it really gave the apartment the feeling of a burglar’s den.
After sharing pizza, Aperol spritzers (Have you tried Aperol? It’s delicious.), and Damme Räubertrunk, the “national” drink of Damme, we headed out. We ran into some of our other colleagues from school, who hadn’t covered their faces and were therefore instantly recognized by hoards of students. We went to the Brennbar tent, followed by the Osterfeine tent, where we spent most of the night. On the way home, we stop for a bit in the UrlauBar, where we ran into another colleague and rocked out to 90s American rock music. We got home around 4:30am. Although it was super-late, and we lost briefly lost a member of our group, it was a splendid time.