Oktoberfest brings beer, Bavarian costumes to Craneway Pavilion

The Golden Gate Bavarian Club wowed with traditional costumes and energetic dance moves (Photo: Sarah Phelan).

The Golden Gate Bavarian Club wowed with traditional costumes and energetic dance moves (Photo: Sarah Phelan).

The Craneway Pavilion on Richmond’s marina harbor echoed to the sounds of steins clinking, beer pong balls pinging, Bayern Maiden’s guitar twanging and dirndl and lederhosen-clad dancers from the Golden Gate Bavarian Club delivering stompingly hot performances of peasant dances at the first East Bay Oktoberfest on Saturday.

Amy Higgins, who was manning a booth as community manager for Google + Local, estimated that 1,000 people turned out for the fest.

Across the cavernous room, attendees were being given free copies of Matthew R Lopez evocative posters of Oktoberfest and February’s Chocolate and Beer fest—and people were hacking into a log with axes, courtesy of the Golden Gate Bavarian Club, which uses these items to perform Der Holzhackertanz, which is German for woodchopper’s dance.

Jennifer Moak, who cofounded the Golden Gate Bavarian Club in 2005, said the club performs dances that mimic daily tasks that were part of the everyday life of German peasants living in the rural countryside, not in big cities or royal courts.
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Golden Gate Bavarian Club demonstrated dances then invited the public to join in. (Photo: Sarah Phelan)

“The men were blacksmiths, woodchoppers and farmers, they were very tied to the land,” Moak said, noting that club’s main mission is to preserve the customs and traditions from Bavaria in the mid to late 1800s.

“The clothes we wear are made for us in Munich,” said Moak, modeling a bodice, blouse skirt and apron of the dirndl, the traditional dress of Bavarian peasant women.

The festivities concluded with more dances and prizes for the best dirndl and best lederhosen — Bavarian men’s leather shorts and suspenders.

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