A Short Guide to Survive The 1st of May
- Rain jacket
- Sun screen
- Satellite phone
- 8 Sternis
- 1 bottle vodka
- Various “bits”
- Political banner of choice
- Guy Fawkes mask (optional)
- More money than you think you'll need
May Day should start a week before the date, over pints. Plans about where and when to meet up are best made well in advance.
Start the day off at home then head in the direction of Görlitzer Park. About half way there, it's best to realise that you are already starting to run low on your drink of choice. Panic will start to kick in. This is good. If you live directly outside of the Xberg area its better to stock up now than pay over 3 euro for a bottle of Pilsator later, while trying not to slip on broken glass.
On arriving at Gorli, you will see that just about everyone else has had the same idea. Go to your pre-arranged meeting place; remember, you arranged this in the bar a week ago. Wait for at least an hour. At this point, phone reception will be nil. Try a couple of times but don't waste your credit. You'll understand now that the idea of having a flag for the group wasn't such a daft idea after all. If you happen to see a half-familiar face, it's best to jump onto their bandwagon and hope to run into your crowd later. Barring that, align yourself with a random stranger. Most people are in the same boat and May 1st is a better day than most for making new friends.
Around the middle of the afternoon the main protest should be beginning. Here is where you'll find the origins of this somewhat commercialised street festival. The protest itself is a mix of leftist groups flying banners, setting off flares at random intervals, shouting slogans, while all the while enjoying themselves and taking what they are really there for very seriously. Flanking them are the stony-faced police in full body armour ready for whatever might or might not happen next. Most of them are bussed-in from other parts of the country, so while it is amusing to to ask a cop for directions while drinking a beer, they won't be of much help.
For the most part, it should be safe but it might be better to drop out around nightfall, or if you see anything major starting between the two groups. Unless, of course, you wish to show solidarity, but be aware this could mean spending the rest of your night in the back of a van. Also, blathering about your new start-up is something that would be frowned upon.
As the sun sets, head to Spreewaldplatz. Here you will find various bars having a “Funktion One” competition for your ears and wallets. Most of the DJs are of quite good calibre; you'll just have to jostle for a sweet spot to hear them. Normally, around this time, you'll see people hawking beer or shots of vodka and Pfeffi, usually at a half-decent price to make life a bit cheaper.
By now the party will be in full swing. With any luck, you'll have found your friends or, at the very least, met new ones. Take a minute to realise that this is only an introductory day to the oncoming madness of the summer. So either stay around here or head to a quieter bar later. Avoid clubs at all costs!
Of course, these are only my personal recommendations on how to enjoy your day. There is tons of stuff to do around the city; including gallery openings, various family friendly events and quieter places to enjoy yourself.
Overall, keep safe and stay somewhat classy.
By Francis T. Spurling