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Oktoberfest Too Loud?

DW Staff (aal)September 21, 2005

Some say the music is too loud, others say it's too quiet. The dispute over noise levels on the Theresienwiese has people lining up along generational lines.

What's a beer fest without the music?Image: AP

At this year's Oktoberfest in southern Germany, newly curbed music volumes at the tents of Munich's six major breweries have many of the festival's younger visitors voicing their discontent.

"All we've heard are complaints," explained Toni Roiderer, a representative for proprietors of the annual event which some are now calling "Whisperfest" after the initiative to lower the decibels a few notches. "It was a good try, but I'm convinced that it is doing more harm then good," he acknowledged.

In protest, many guests simply stood on the tables and sang party hits in a kind of impromptu choir. Sometimes they belted it out louder than the music.

Keeping a lid on the party

After a decision made by the Munich city council earlier this year, the hosts of Germany's biggest folk festival opted to tamp down the mood a little this year by implementing a decibel level restriction as well as a policy to not play "hot" music before 6:00 p.m. These restrictions however, only apply to weekdays and are only realistic up until the afternoon, when the tents are still not very full, surmised Roiderer.

"If the noise level in the tents is 90 decibels, you can't play music at only 85. That's like watching the conductor move his hands without being able to hear anything," he said.

Bildgalerie Oktoberfest 2004 Bild 18
A waitress carries beer mugs during the opening ceremony of the Oktoberfest in Munich, southern GermanyImage: AP

Festival vendors want a quick regulation. They think the music should be appropriate for the noise level in the tents. "That would be a good solution, if decibel levels were adjusted to the level of our guests," they conceded.

But it's not likely there will be an agreement on the noise level any time soon. Older visitors and city residents will continue complaining about the raucous music and disco atmosphere, while the younger ones chant "pump up the volume."