02 July 2007

Day 5, Part 1: Munich–Starnberg

It started raining last night, and it's still going as of this moment. A bit of a downer for the first day of venturing into Marienplatz (Mary's Square) in the middle of historic Munich. After the heat and humidity yesterday (and the flies; have I mentioned that the Germans don't believe in screen doors?), this is quite a change-up.

And it started last night right as Colleen and I were heading out on the train to Salon Erna for the swing dance. Salon Erna isn't in one of the nicer parts of Munich; Ostbanhof is a more industrial area that houses a lot of nightclubs. It was about a thirty-minute train ride out there from Starnberg, and we had a half-hour wait for the train back. On our return trip, we had our tickets checked for the first time in Germany by the slightly scary police officers in their red beret caps. Train fares are mostly done on the honor system here; Colleen says this was only the third time she's ever had her ticket checked. I also got to see afterwards what happens when you don't have your ticket: the next man they checked was riding without one (this is called schwarzfharen in German, "black-riding"), and they fined him 40 Euros and threw him off at the next station. Ah, classic Germany. Papers please!

Anyway, I had a great time at Salon Erna, even though it was boiling hot inside, especially after dancing (the Germans aren't big on air-conditioning either). Everyone was friendly, and their dance skills are quite high. They played a lot of music by local California bands, like the Campus Five and Stompy Jones, which demonstrates how global swing is as a culture—or at least how powerful California is in swing culture. If it wasn't for the language, I could almost imagine I was dancing at home. There aren't any stylistic differences in the dancing that I could detect. And yes, they can Balboa.

Colleen and I hung out a lot with an Italian-German girl named Pia, pictured here with me.

I'm suffering from some fierce allergies right now. There's a pollen in the air that apparently bothers many first-time visitors. Reed has the allergic reaction far worse than I do. Frankly, I'll take the allergies in exchange for getting rid of these aggravating flies.