The story of …. Tanz in den Mai


“Now that I start to pay attention, I realize that Germans find a lot of reasons to party”, I said when Francesca proposed to write  about Tanz in den Mai-Dance into 1st of May”. 

This night resembles those Christian churches you find all over Europe, which were erected on former pagan sacred sites. When I grew up, everybody in our village spent the afternoon of the 30th of April clearing the yard from anything moveable, because the night to come was  the night of practical jokes. In the dark, the male village youth  would gather and look for wheelbarrows, carts, or machinery left alone under  the open sky. The next morning, negligent owners would find their  possessions high up in a tree, fixed to a lamppost or heaved onto a roof.

My parents always where proud of securely  stowing away  everything. Nobody could get the better of them, nobody. Till one First of May, when my mother wanted to drive to a “Kaffee und Kuchen”  invitation. At three a clock, she went out to get her car she parked on the curb. “Call the police”, she cried when she rushed back in 30 seconds later. “My car is stolen”. My  father grabbed the phone. While he dialled, he looked out of the window. His eyes hit a red object sitting on the garage roof: my  mother’s tiny Fiat 126.


In my village, this night strictly was “boys only”. Later I learnt  that the 30th of April for centuries was the night out for the women.  In mediveal belief, at Walpurgisnacht, witches mounted their  sweeps and rode to the Brocken, a montain in the Harz, where they were  to meet their master, the Devil, to a wild orgiastic dance. Goethe wrote about this myth in his  “Faust”, the  most classical of German classics. A  he did it in part 2, which nobody ever reads, this Tanz in den Mai was forgotten for two centuries.

The feminist movement dug the legend out again, dusted it off,  and made the 3oth of April a night out for the girls. This time, strictly no men. In lila dungarees I danced to Patti Smith  or listened to Ina Deter wailing: Neue Maenner braucht das Landwhat we need are new men.


As the new man still were in the making and the old type of men struck back in the conservative 90ies,  the feminist movement lost power. The trade unions tried to pick up the newly neglected date and declared it the opening night of  First of May, workers day, a public holiday in Germany. Now I drank beer for a good cause and listened  to the Songs of International Solidarity.

As we got globalization and international recession instead, Tanz in den Mai was orphaned again. Today, the Club scene adopts the idea. As I walk through the streets, posters like this announce Tanz in den Mai in many of the many hip clubs in town.

Tanz in den Mai  Maybe I will try this one and listen to DJ Maxi. I don´t know his message, but at least this club admits people over 30, as Ü30 tells me. 

Those age-brackets  sprang up during the last few years. As nobody wants to get old but gets old anyway, the entertainment industry adapted to unchanged habits. Recently I even spotted a Ü40 sign, for all those who lived through the Ü30 parties of the last decade and still don´t want to give up on partying.

I´m one of them, though for a long time I didn´t go dancing because I wasn´t energetic enough any more to go out at 11 0´clock at night, dance till 2 0´clock in the morning, and then go to my office the next day – and even work there.

For people like me, the club owners invented the after-work party: it opens at 5 o´clock in the afternoon, dance starts at 8 o´clock. Thus, I can leave, pleasantly  exhausted by hard dancing, at 10 o´clock. Sometimes I even can kiss my son good night. 

Though I would prefer a Ü40 option here too. Last time I queued to get in the guard told me: “If you are here to get your son, maybe you would rather call him on his mobile.” 

But this is another story.








Filed under Germany, World

8 responses to “The story of …. Tanz in den Mai

  1. Oh, how fun. Witchy tricks…
    Did you post on the new “I Heart Mudflats?” Add your site, so much fun peeking into mudpuppies little worlds. I added some new stuff on my site, too Your my onlu visitor! Thanks!!!

    • I have so much fun blogging (and it is such a relief from the house fixing – I admit, I get too stressed) that I keep thiinking of new blogs. I loooove your blog. It´s all about the stuff I wish I knew how to do and you make it look so easy that I feel encouraged to give it a try. I am clearing my garden now. Some great stuff, but all too big and shady. This is Germany. If you want your plants to grow some gaps in the shade coverage are necessary.
      I had no Internet for two whole days, ( a blown something) so I only saw the I heart Mudflats mail two minutes ago. I´ll wander over there pronto. See you there. (By the way the entry “The story of…” was written by TrueGerman, not by me.)

  2. It’s not hard at all, and I can help you as much as I can from here on the garden… many herbs do well in the shade, and lettuce, spinach and peas will tolerate partial shade- especially when it gets hotter. I planted mine in full sun areas that I know will be shady by June, when the trees are at their fullest.

    We decided on a beachy them for the summer house – and to give it to our eldest son, who still lives at home & would like some additional privacy (he’s now in a loft with open railing and no door). Bought paint and ordered a teal wall paper with woven rush in it for a backsplash accent. Must spackle today and tear a few more things out… coming along! Pics will be added as we go, have to make some more progress.

  3. Thanks for the congrats.

    My mom has a columnist/author who she just raves about weekly. Got to call her this am and say, “Hey, guess who kicked Larrys ass?” He got an and honorable mention & I got 1st. No problem with the guy, he’s funny, just a fun call to make to blow my mother away.

    Anyway, the newspaper is doing a piece for Sunday (I am the only winner from that newspaper) so if they put it online I’ll post the link!

  4. 4 new posts on palin around.

  5. Curves are beautiful 🙂

  6. Pingback: Tanz in den Mai | ACID TED

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