Drinking, Dancing And Donating @ ://about blank
It was a Saturday, drinking beer in the kitchen at a typical WG-Party, and conversation turned to the refugees. While I was expressing optimism about the change in people’s awareness, one girl interrupted me to say that these political “commitments” are nothing more than another trend, that most people do little more than changing their social media profile picture or going to benefit concerts. She told me that, at the end of the day, all of this is just a selfish attempt to make oneself feel better.
I felt busted. Even if I do volunteer once a week, I had to admit my last Facebook profile picture was indeed a pink sign with hearts reading “Refugees Welcome”, and, yes, I’d planned to go to a fundraiser club event the same week. Was I, too, only one of these passive “activists” whose only motivation is to appease their own conscience? Was it out of convenience that I’d convinced myself that a Facebook “Share” button or a beer for a good cause would change anything?
I decided go to the fundraiser at ://about blank anyway to find out more by talking to my fellow partying would-be world-changers. I arrived at the club around 1:00am and was surprised—no queue? That’s a rarity in Berlin. Did I have the right night and event? Then I spotted a guy wearing a “Refugees Welcome” hoodie leaving the club. Yes, this was the right place. For the first time, the 10€ entrance fee didn’t hurt—and I immediately felt ashamed, musing sardonically, “Hello, 21st century activism ...”
I danced for a while, enjoying the music and the atmosphere, before stepping outside for a cigarette. There’s a nice fireplace in the garden, and I ended up sitting down next to a guy who came to Berlin from India. Following the obligatory small talk, I asked him my question of the night—”Are you here for a good cause?” He looked at me surprised and answered No. He’d only randomly found out about this party and come for a taste of Berlin’s nightlife. Ok, I thought, maybe the refugees are not a topical subject in India. But then he told me that India also receives a lot of refugees, though not from Syria—from Bangladesh. “They show it in the news in India too, and our government is also having difficulties with refugees. But the situation is different.”
The next guy I talked to was from Australia. Same procedure, different person. Small talk, and then, “Are you here for a good cause? “ He smiled at me, “I honestly came here because it seemed as the only good party for a Wednesday night. “
Irritation swept through me. Is our generation that selfish? Also—where are all the dedicated Germans?
While I was looking around for someone else to talk to, I realized that I was hearing nothing but varying English accents. Therefore, time to consult the dancefloor. There I met four Americans. Unfortunately it seemed like their focus was on the heavy beats, only pretending to understand what the other person just screamed into your ear. They rejected my suggestion to talk outside. Again I popped my question, “Are you here for a good cause?” And again I came up empty.
A good summary of our conversations: Drinking is fun. Sure. It’s even more fun when the money goes to something beneficial. Sure, sure. The time for my reflection cigarette had come.
Sitting outside, another wave of self-criticism threatening to sweep over me, I suddenly overheard someone speaking German. Luckily I didn’t scare the guy away in my overexcitement. Apparently he’s very active in various organizations as well as taking care of a Syrian family. “I’m here both for a good cause and to have fun,” he affirmed. “One does not exclude the other.” This guy was actually the turning point of my night.
The more people I spoke to, the more I realized that lots of them are simply happy about each new opportunity to help. On the sofas was a whole group of people who had donated clothes and toys and were very involved. Later one girl told me that 1.9K people had signed up on the Facebook event. “I’m sure a lot of people just click “Attending” for the image of it, but what matters is the outcome—they raised so much!” She pointed to the donation stand, and, indeed, it was overflowing. Not only that, she told me with a big smile on her face, but all the DJs were playing for free, and a lot of people had enthusiastically given 20€ at the entrance.
Around 5:00am, I was dancing again, my eyes closed, feeling happy. All the motivated people I met
by the end of the night made me realize that increased awareness of the issues in our world is never a bad thing. On the contrary, if this is only a trend, then let there be more trends like this, as it’s the outcome that matters. Certainly one could and should do more than just changing profile pictures with each social movement, or going from one benefit party to the next. There’s always more room for contribution. But even if the act of “donating” transpires alongside dancing and drinking—if it gets people motivated to help out, then it’s a good, good thing.
By Aylin Sarica
Images © Aylin Sarica