Cultural shenanigans at KdK

It ended how it always ended before, how it always will end. Sitting under trees adorned with pretty lights, listening to nearby gentle bongos, contemplating the meaning of contemplation as wafts of marijuana drifted lazily over the cool dark grass. At the Karneval der Kulturen it always ends in culture – Berlin’s.
First thing we’d seen when we got down to Urbanstraße Sunday morning was an Irish flag. Two of them, sticking up on a grassy verge in the middle of the road. Culture indeed.
The young lad grabbed one, an old drunken German picked up the other, and they both waved with gusto. I guess they both had claim to.
We wandered on, found the source – Jigs and Reels, an Irish dancing troupe based in Schöneberg which is doing its best to inflict hands-to-the-side madness on the natives. It’ll never catch on. The young fella waved his flag and tried to steal the balloons from the side of their truck. I pulled him away before he could do serious damage.
Techno and samba beats brought us further along the parade route, and the young lad took everything in with mouth opened wide as his eyes. He called for more. More, more! The flag got lost somewhere along the way.
We saw more. There were drums, drums and more drums, dancing girls too, twisting and writhing, wearing half nothing, I had to cover the young lad’s eyes. More, more!
He’d seen it all before, but it was evidently all forgotten. I carried him on, through the crowds, past the revelers and the drunken piss artists. The sun was doing its damnedest to lure them all out onto the street.
The excitement was too much, and the poor fella fell asleep on my shoulder as I carried him along. I let him sleep it off in Nathan’s camera shop on Gneisenaustraße before bringing him home, though not before he devoured a pretzel with cheese, ran amok on the street, threw stones into a fountain and hurled abuse at Polizei – just sticks, but he’s still young.
I was so tired myself after I got him home that I considered not going back at all, and went instead to Mauerpark. But then I heard Francesca and Esteban were down there so I finished my beers, set off, and was glad I did.
Well, I didn’t actually meet them of course, but I found plenty of others. There was no lack of interesting characters around. The guy selling plants, for example, who had an unusual technique for dealing with prospective customers…
“You look like shite, the state of you,” he told one guy. “God, they’re getting worse and worse.”
Still clutching his beaker of coffee, he then tried selling some shit to the people he hadn’t insulted, picking up plants and small trees and just flinging them all together into a bag.
“€20 for the bag,” he shouted. “I don’t care anymore. Just take it, everything has to go.”
A heavy metal band was on stage playing to a bunch of heavy metallers, while all around people were jostling as they roamed the stalls selling overpriced useless shit in search of their next material hit. The retailers had a drunken captive audience and were taking full advantage.
I got away from the stalls, sat under a tree and cracked open a beer. I learned my lesson from the year before and had brought my own.
I got talking to a Jamaican guy beside me. It was cool. He was drinking whiskey and smoking something a little more powerful than tobacco. We discussed everything and anything, racism, life, the afterlife, religion, God’s existence.
“He doesn’t want shit, doesn’t need shit,” the Jamaican fella said. I’m sure Jesus once said exactly the same thing.
It was great, just relaxing, talking shite, listening to the drums, watching people go by, the lights twinkling in the trees. These cultured evenings are always a pleasure.


  1. To my shame I have never made it to the KdK. In my teens that wasn't my vibe. The multi-cultural aspect might have appealed to me, but I had too much a picture of loads of reggea artists playing Bob Marley in my head to really bother. In my twenties (which will be gone in a month ...scary thought)I always lived too far away from Berlin to make my debut. Maybe next year.

    By the way, "shenanigans" is most likely my ever-favourite English word. :-)


    1. Shenanigans is a good word alright. German has some excellent words but shenanigans is definitely one of the best English has to offer.

      KdK is so much more than Bob Marley and reggae. It really is culture from across the globe. South America features strongly. Make sure you catch it next year!


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