Did you know that today is reunification day in Germany? Ho-fucking-hum. I’m out of olive oil and all the stores are closed. Is Germany a better place now that it’s one instead of two? I couldn’t tell you. I can tell you this: there are very few holidays that interest me and now that I live in a country where most of those don’t even exist I have slid further down the spiral of holiday apathy. I would like it if Germany got more into Halloween though, and they do give Christmas an alcohol-infused flair that can be quite pleasant.
The weekend found me on the road with the Beard’s newest musical project (Gorgor Noisid) for their first two shows (Cologne and Frankfurt). I had been mildly worried that I would be passed out in a corner come ten o’clock (when I’m usually passed out in my bed at home), but this must be the good part of the pregnancy because I managed to stay up until two and midnight respectively without flinching. I hadn’t been to a concert in a long, long while. You see, the thing about the smoking debate amongst radicals in Germany is that there is no smoking debate. Radical venues and autonomous spaces are almost unanimously smoking locations. Yes, the smoking ban has arrived in Germany, but what the law dictates has never played a large role in the decisions of autonomous spaces.
I don’t enjoy the smell of cigarette smoke on the best (or most unpregnant) of days, but the potential risk to the Peanut from second-hand smoke has meant that I hadn’t been to a concert since the last time we played with Black Diamond. Then two weeks ago Scissors suggested we make one of the Mainusch concerts smoke-free so that I could come. I don’t like asking people to go out of their way for me, but I wanted to see the concert, so hell, why not? Though a smoke-free Mainusch meant an empty Mainusch between (and before and after) bands, it was pretty sweet to be able to hang out again and see some live music.
In Cologne the show was at the AZ I featured pictures of after we played there with Black Diamond this summer. We had played an early-evening show in the courtyard out back, but this time the show was in the basement. And it was a non-smoking place! Halle-fucking-lulah, I said. And then everyone smoked inside anyway, and the Beard and I spent the rest of the evening hanging out on the steps outside. Which was no big loss because, awesome as Grrzzz are (crusty disco dance music!) I probably would have just watched them from the couch anyway.
In Frankfurt I had expected to have to sit outside for the show: it would be held in the dank, moldy Ex cellar in a city (so I was told afterwards) known for it’s ornery smokers. But my friends didn’t want me to sit outside by myself while the bands played, so they spread the word that the concert room would be a non-smoking area. This is what I love about radical communities. It is usually really important to everybody to make sure that no one is excluded because of a situational thing that can be compromised on. But alas, it came to words with one smoker who was incredibly perplexed and irritated at being asked to put out his cigarette in the concert room.
“If you’re pregnant, why are you even here?” That was his first question. Gosh, you’re right! *Smacks head.* I should be at home in front of the stove where I belong! Pregnant women really shouldn’t leave the house. Or attempt to have any semblance of a normal life. Or to ask people to not smoke for 30 minutes so that they can watch their friends make music. The nerve! Unfortunately I am never witty or biting or particularly articulate in situations like these, and I left it at a simple, “Should I not be allowed to see my friend’s concert because I’m pregnant?!”
He thought about that for a little while, then, when the room was briefly silent between songs, leaned toward me again. “You can’t be in a room full of smoke because of the baby, but you can be in a room this loud?” He gave me a look that said “check mate, asshole.” I furrowed my brow. “Umm, smoke has been proven to cause damage to unborn children, whereas loud music can’t harm them because of the amniotic fluid.” I’ve done a lot of research on the subject. I’ve talked to a midwife about it. Had he? I doubt it. But by the end of my sentence the next song had begun, and he didn’t hear me.