So it turns out May 1st is a pretty big day in practically every country in the world, except the United States. That is because while we have our Labor Day on the first weekend in September, for many countries, it’s in May.
Some May Day celebrations pass very quietly, with people enjoying the day off. But others, such as here in Berlin, are renown for the protests. As it so happens, one of the areas in town where protests occur annually is in Kreuzberg 36, aka our hood.
Last year would have been my first official May 1st, but we opted for a week of sunshine and Swedes and ended up in Gothenburg visiting family. So this year, I was semi-excited to properly take part in the festivities. In particular, I was interested in seeing bands such as Samiam, Strung Out, and maybe Bad Brains at the MyFest celebration.
So sometime in the afternoon we headed out to the middle of the action. One of the things I particularly love about our street is that we are close to everything, but still a block or so off two of the main thoroughfares in our Kiez, so that it’s relatively quiet. Most of the foot traffic is very intentional, so we don’t get too many loud drunk people or wandering tourists. Still, we only have to walk two blocks to be on the outskirts of the parties and protests.
We began with a walk through Görli, which was honestly my kind of vibe. People were camped out all over, BBQing and drinking and just hanging out. It was like any other summer day, but maybe a few more people than normal. No big deal. But as we approached Oranienstraße, the crowds got worse and worse. Still, we persisted, and spent a couple hours walking all the streets and checking people out.
But all of this made me realize that this holiday is not that interesting to me. The history is, of course, and having the day off is something no one can complain about, but the big street party is not particularly special. In fact, it’s like any other street party: people getting drunk and sometimes acting like assholes and making it particularly difficult to go anywhere. My first Erster Mai and I’m already over it. In future years, I foresee taking it easy and avoiding all the crowds.