The “ß” in Gießen is “ss”, fyi

The last post ended with a hasty farewell, as I was in a rush to get to a salsa dancing event in Gießen.  I’ll back up slightly and give you an idea of the adventures of last weekend…

I stayed with Kyra in Gießen from Friday to Sunday, mostly to get acquainted with the city and start to figure out if I’d rather live there than in Laubach.  Friday night Kyra and I were planning on finding a place to dance, so I borrowed her roommate’s bicycle and we went on an extremely long quest.  Our first stop was a ballroom dance studio that normally hosts dance parties on Friday nights.  Unfortunately for us — and for a German couple who pulled up in their car just as we arrived — the studio was closed for the night.  We chatted with the couple for a bit and learned that the ballroom scene is primarily made up of “older” people, i.e. people who are already married and bring their own partners.  The man said if he’d known we two young ladies would be coming, he would have had two sons and brought them along with his wife (oh, German humor, you sound suspiciously like my father’s humor).  We told them we’d come next week and headed off to the next destination on our quest.

On the way to what is supposed to be a dance venue on the west side of Gießen, Kyra and I stopped at a gas station to ask for directions and coincidentally ran into the older couple again, who were headed to yet another ballroom event down the road.  (Here I started thinking, ok, well I really should move to Gießen then).  We started biking again and, long story short, ended up going waaaaay outside of the city in the middle of the night, biking on an unlit path next to the equivalent of a county highway.  After twenty minutes of this, we decided we probably weren’t going to find any dance clubs out there and hopped a conveniently timed bus back into town.

Hell-bent on finding some sort of location with heart-thumping music, we settled for a smallish club clearly meant for 18-20 year olds.  I can only imagine what the Germans, being hesitant to dance without a few drinks in them, were thinking when we stormed the dance floor with our crazy-bold-sober American moves.  We were literally the only ones dancing for a good 40 minutes.  It was actually pretty fun — we were definitely “am abspacken”.  There’s really no English translation that does the German verb justice, but the closest definitions I can think of are “to go wild” or “to cut loose”.  Good times.

Saturday was full of sleep and relaxation, followed by shopping at the outdoor market and various stores to pick up a few essentials (bright yellow bath towel, fruit, gelato) with the only other Fulbright teaching assistant in Gießen, Rick.  That evening we made falafel and had a nice picnic in a park by Kyra’s apartment.  Her friend Allen, a bloke from Manchester who’s been living in Germany for 20 years, joined us with his guitar and singing skillz.  Some extremely aggressive swans crashed our picnic party, but we managed to hold our ground and avoid getting bitten.

That night was full of salsa dancing (finally!) at Bootshaus, on the riverbank downtown.  It was interesting coming into a brand new salsa scene, wondering how things function, if everyone asks anyone to dance, how old or experienced people would be, etc.  Turns out, the music was excellent and most people were between 30 – 45 years old yet willing to dance with “a stranger”, after I asked them to dance a couple of times.  There were two middle-aged German men who could salsa decently well, but I especially enjoyed dancing some salsa with a guy from Paris (named Jacques, of course), an older Italian man (named Giorgio, of course), and a younger Turkish guy who was definitely the most experienced of anyone there.  The salsa was a mix of Cuban and LA-style, with merengue and bachata thrown in throughout the night.  Happiness achieved.  I’ll be back soon for more…


2 thoughts on “The “ß” in Gießen is “ss”, fyi

  1. I am glad you found the Bootshaus, it is a really cool place to dance, drink, eat at. Giessen does have some ok clubs and there are quite a few you can pick from. Try out the Muk, they sometimes host really good bands and play danceable music. Have fun with the abspacken, that’s my favorite thing to do… I had to laugh when you wrote about the ‘beer-sipping, standing by the bar – Germany” 🙂

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