(sorry, text article)
Well, here I am in Germany, visiting my partner’s parents in what has been described by some as sort of a Judgement Day. I am happy to report that they are great, though there is a bit of a language barrier. For the next few weeks I will be exploring the region, centred around Chemnitz in the former communist East. The first, and one of the more memorable moments in the couple of days I have been here is something Linda casually mentioned as we were walking back from the botanic gardens. Eisdisco! Yes, there is such a thing. I expected the best (?) budget East German DJs combined with the fashions of a region that had broken free of communism – all on a slippery ice surface. I was not disappointed.
With childlike delight I roped Linda, who rolled her eyes at the idea (or possibly my enthusiasm), and her brother Steffen into a night on the ice. On the bus I noticed a man in his early forties with a jawline beard, orange cycling glasses and a sweatband on his head, wearing a blue tracksuit. He looked like a man that frequents Eisdiscos. I relayed my opinion to Steffen who told me it was unlikely.
On arrival, the first order of business was to find some skates that fit me. Luckily they did have EUR51 skates, the largest available.
The atmosphere was building as we awaited the doors to the ice to open. I noticed a familiar face in the crowd – Napoleon Dynamite’s doppelganger. Seriously, this guy was identical. Small circles of coloured lights chased each other over the ice and a disco ball rotated slowly overhead. The doors flung open and we were on the ice as quick as a flash.
This is the moment I should mention that I had only tried ice skating once, and it was 20 years ago. I was terrible at it. This time was no different. People in spiky coloured hairdos zoomed past, the orange glasses guy from the bus (yes I was right!) was also there. The music was exactly as I expected. Classical German music such as Rammstein and Scooter blasted from the speakers as I made my way around the ring.
I struggled but managed three laps before my first fall. The boots were a little loose, so we exchanged them for another pair, hoping for size 50. They only had 49, which I couldn’t get my feet into at all. So it was another pair of 51s. Upon returning to the ice, I found much to my horror that the left skate would slide out sideways and not grip the ice at all. Nothing I could do would cause it to grip, so we went back to exchange that too. Instead, the big moustached maintenance man with a tummy that strained against his overalls offered to take the boots and sharpen them. Back on the ice, the problem still made gaining speed difficult. So we returned the boots again. The man fished about and found a final pair of skates. These worked as expected and soon I was back on the ice falling over as usual. It was getting hot in my snow jacket so I opted to wear my shirt and jeans. I was the only person not wearing a jacket, so you can imagine I got a few strange looks.
The night was coming to a close and my feet began to hurt. I was becoming much better at this ice skating thing, but maybe that was just the beer wearing off.