Karneval in Dubai

It’s the Dubai leg of a German festival and it may well be the most fun you ever have

What’s going on?

It’s Karneval, baby! Celebrated all over mainland Europe and (most famously) in Latin-American countries such as Brazil, the original Carnival is a celebration in the run-up to Lent, the holy period of fasting. The German version, Karneval, is also celebrated in countries such as Switzerland and Austria, and is a chance for the community to come together to party with much music, silliness and merriment. The details of what constitutes Karneval tradition differ from area to area, so there’s no right or wrong way to do it as long as everyone’s having fun. This year Nasimi is being turned into Dubai’s Karneval central and everyone is invited, irrespective of their heritage. So if you fancy joining in with the dancing, eating, singing and ostentatious good fun, here’s a crash course.

A load of pants

Traditional Karneval costumes vary from place to place, but many people will be familiar with the Bavarian/Austrian lederhosen, as modelled by the two gents on the right. Literally ‘leather trousers’, lederhosen were originally designed for manual labourers and are therefore associated with manliness and brawn. Careful how you spell it, though: ‘leiderhosen’ means ‘sadly-trousers’ and ‘liederhosen’ means ‘song-trousers’.Ladies’ traditional clothing is known as dirndl, and is the kind of thing you’d associate with Heidi: bodices, puff sleeves and knee-length skirts. And probably pigtails. Hey, why not?

If you want to buy a tailored dirndl – probably for next year rather than this year, given the timeframe – email Carolin Kopp, Dubai’s own Teutonic seamstress, on fashion@Caro-Lin.com. And if you’re looking for lederhosen or more kitschy traditional German clothing, try Mr Ben’s Costume Closet on 04 345 3577 or see mrbendubai.com. Alternatively, you can rock up to the party wearing whatever you like – Karneval in Germany is just as likely to inspire Halloween-style crazy fancy-dress costumes as it is traditional garb.

A feather in your cap

Giant foam cowboy hats are not part of traditional Bavarian clothing – at least, not yet. Green peaked caps featuring ‘gamsbart’ – feather-like tufts of hair – are usually associated with lederhosen, but in reality there are as many different variations of headgear as there are fashions. For Dubai’s Karneval, visitors are welcome to wear whatever they like, whether traditional or, er, foamy.

Want a bitte to eat?

Traditional German party food doesn’t sit comfortably with Islamic beliefs, being composed largely of beer and pork. The former will make an appearance at the festival (with non-alcoholic options available, of course) but pig-based foodstuffs won’t. And while that means no currywurst, there will be non-pork German munchies available on the night for anyone who wants a ‘bitte’ – that means little, fact fans – to nibble on. There will also be sweets and chocolates thrown out to the crowd if you can’t bear to drag yourself away from the dancefloor.

You can’t spell Teutonic without ‘tune’

Traditional German celebrations may be associated with oom-pah bands, but modern Karnevals are just as likely to go with contemporary music. That doesn’t mean good music, though. The Dubai Karneval’s selector, DJ J-Spirit, will most likely be playing kitschy German party tunes that will encourage much conga-line-forming and communal singing.

Here are a few taster videos to look up online…
Dieter Thomas Kuhn: ‘Über den Wolken’ A Steve Coogan lookalike dances through an exploding submarine in a gold-sequinned suit.

Tony Holiday: ‘Tanze Samba’ Tremendously camp samba song involving much hip-shaking and dubious ’70s clothing. Catchy, though.

Bata Illic: ‘Michaela’ Rocking the oom-pah bassline in clapalong ’70s style, Bata seems cheerful, but we find him oddly disturbing.

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