20 of July (this year) was not a typical weekend Sunday for me. Why? Because I woke up (I forced myself) at half past four so not to miss the once a year event, the famous Cook’s bal in Münich. When I woke my poor husband up first he grunted out saying that that we would be early. But he was wrong because when we arrived at 5 am around the Chinese Tower all the places had already been taken. At 5 am! I was a bit angry because I repeated him many times that that the cook’s bal is a very early morning dance-fest but it seemed he didn’t believe me. No worry because the beautiful sunrise, mysterious candle lights and a giant pretzel compensated me promptly.
The history behind the quaint little Münich tradition
Towards the end of the 19th century the city’s servants, cooks, nannies and other minions would get up early to meet and dance around the Chinese tower in Münich’s Englischer garden from about 5am to 8am. This was often the only time the lower-classes could get off work because their masters were still asleep. However, in a foreshadowing of Footloose, a party-pooping mayor banned the dance in 1904 due to “lack of morality”. But fortunatelly the Kocherlball was revived in 1989 for the 200th anniversary of the Englischer Garten and now it’s more popular than ever. I read in the today’s paper that yesterday 15,000 people flocked to the tower to recreate the old days. Yes I guessed because wherever I wanted to move I was squeezed. Many folks were dressed up, either in much-loved modern Bavarian Lederhosen or Dirndl dresses, or in period costume. Dances, including the polka, waltz and a local jig called the Münchener Francaise were performed.
But not everyone came to dance. Many were just there to enjoy the atmosphere the “darsein” (being there) and grabbed a bite to eat. I was really happy to hear of that cooks bal from my hairdresser because that wasn’t that sort of event that attracts a lot of international tourists so there’s a really authentic feeling to it all.
I can say it’s a unique and seldom experience of Munich history!