Dance with me!

If you think Germans are cold, rational and impassionate, think twice about the people in Augsburg, because if you’re out and about on a Saturday night, you might come across a mass of passionate salsa dancers, moving their bodies to the rhythms of Cuban music, sensually drawing close together in a bachata or dancing wild and carefree in a reaggeton.

Augsburg may not look like it, but it is one of the world’s salsa strongholds. Internationally-renowned salsa teachers, dancers and DJ’s live and work here, the salsa dance schools are numerous and the parties more popular than ever.

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If you feel like including Cuban dance moves into your life, Augsburg is the perfect location to do so. You might want to start by checking out one of the salsa parties that take place on the weekends. For a first taste of salsa, I recommend the Latin Black party at the KKlub every first Saturday of the month. With a salsa and a hip hop dance floor on two different levels you can move around freely, so in case you’re a bit overwhelmed by the Cuban rhythms you can always find refuge in some good old hip hop songs.

For those of you who prefer a location in the city centre of Augsburg, there is a salsa party every second Saturday of the month at Henry’s at the Rathausplatz, where you normally drink your coffee during the day. Another favourite location is the Capitol restaurant near the Moritzplatz, which opens its doors to salsa dancers every first Friday of the month. If you still don’t have enough of salsa parties, there’s always the Spirit Divan in Königsbrunn, where you can go every third Saturday of the month to enjoy the best of salsa.

If you prefer to learn the basics of salsa dancing first, instead of jumping in at the deep end, let me tell you about the different dance schools you can check out. Emilito’s Cuban Salsa PFacebook-20160519-054009ower offers not only salsa classes, but also classes of other Latin American dances such as rumba, reaggeton, bachata, kizomba and rueda de casino, which is salsa danced in a circle by several couples. The dance school also regularly offers special workshops and free practice parties. Another option is the Salsa Elegante dance school, which hosts the parties at Henry’s and the Capitol. They also offer rueda classes in addition to their salsa dancing lessons. Two other dance schools you might want to have a look at in order to find the right one for you are the Los Banditos and the Move Arts.

If you’re worried that you might not fit into a group of salsa dancers, let me assure you that you’ll find people from all walks of life at the salsa schools and parties. Speaking from my own experience, I can tell you that salsa is something for everyone – no matter how old you are, which country you are from or whether you’ve danced before.
So, vamos a bailar, chicos!

Author: Noemi Hehl
Pictures: Noemi Hehl; Isabelle Zint

Fighting food waste – Foodsharing in Augsburg

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I recently read an article in the Augsburger Allgemeine about food waste in Germany: nearly 2 tons of food were thrown away in 10 days at the Mensa of Uni Augsburg! And when I worked at a greengrocer’s in Augsburg, I was able to take a look “behind the scenes” of the food industry. So I saw with my own eyes how much food is actually wasted and how much everything in our capitalist society is based on making a profit. I was shocked when I looked into the garbage cans behind the shop, filled with food that – in my eyes – was still edible. But in other people’s eyes, this food had to be thrown away, because it didn’t look good enough to be put on display in a shop. I came to the conclusion that shopkeepers often don’t value the food they sell– for them, it’s only about making money.

That’s why I think supporting projects like “Foodsharing” is important. Foodsharing is a non-profit organization founded in Germany and their aim is to reduce the waste of resources and food. On the website www.foodsharing.de you can check for “Essenskörbe”, which are posted by people who have food to share. In their post, they describe what they can give away and where you could pick it up. Anyone who is interested can contact this person in order to pick up the food at their place. In the same way, you can offer food to other people via the foodsharing website.

foodwaste 2Also it’s possible to share food via a “Fair-Teiler”, a store room with a fridge which is publically accessible. Food donations can be deposited there, to be collected by anyone interested. Another step in participating actively in foodsharing is becoming a “foodsaver”, which means going to shops which have made an agreement with foodsharing and picking up food they would normally throw away. The foodsavers collect the saved food and share it with their family, friends, neighbors and donate it to social projects.

There are certain rules you have to respect when participating in foodsharing, the most important being that the food you share with the community must still be of good quality to eat. Furthermore, foodsavers commit themselves to collecting the food from shops on a regular basis (In order to become a foodsaver, you need to pass a quick exam on the website and you need to complete three test collections from shops). If not, the shopkeepers would soon lose their interest in giving the food away, because it’d mean extra time and work for them. Another principle is, that alcohol cannot be shared in the Fair-Teiler, because the age of the people who pick up the food cannot be monitored.

In Augsburg, there is a growing foodsharing community. There are several foodsavers and two Fair-Teiler stations, one of them in the Grandhotel Cosmopolis. The Facebook group “Foodsharing Augsburg”, in which ideas about foodsharing are shared and Essenskörbe are linked, has over 2100 members.

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Personally, I have made use of foodsharing in several occasions and I think it is a wonderful idea. How many students wouldn’t want to save a bit of cash? I always finish my helping. The awareness of the effort it needed for my food to get on the plate, that it had to be planted, watered, harvested, processed and finally cooked, hinders me from just throwing it away. However, there are still a lot of people who apparently don’t mind, or, who are simply not mature enough to know how much they can eat.

I hope that those people who aren’t bothered about our resources are bothered with our current weather and keep the good old German proverb in mind: “If you finish your plate, the sun will shine tomorrow!” We’d really need this to happen. And also, that the food they’re throwing away could save people from starving, in other parts of the world…

Author: Sabrina Huck
Pictures: Elke Thiergärtner (Foodsharing Augsburg)

Why ice hockey should be much more popular in Germany

icehockey 1I wasn’t too thrilled when my dad told me that we would watch the ice hockey finals of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. Back then, I was eleven years old and all about soccer, American football, and basketball. Ice hockey was the game my brother used to play on our local ponds, not something to watch on TV and get excited about. Then, the game started, and I was hooked. Canada won against the USA, and the game was everything I came to love about ice hockey: fast-paced, rough, and electrifying. After that, though, there wasn’t much hockey on TV anymore. Only the DEL (Deutsche Eishockey Liga) playoffs and that was pretty much it. And then the day came on which pay TV finally began to broadcast the NHL (National Hockey League), and my love affair with hockey continued and quickly blossomed into a lifelong marriage to this wonderful sport. But soon I wondered: why is ice hockey not much more popular in Germany?

Hockey is such an easy sport to follow and the rules are really not hard to learn. There’s also little difference between the basic rules of the NHL and the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation). The biggest differences are the size of the rink and the overtime procedures. The other differences are so detailed that really only die-hard fans need to know them. The best and most fun way to learn the rules of both the NHL and the IIHF is, of course, by watching hockey games. So you should really start watching games right now, if you want to learn something really interesting for a change 😉

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The only thing I ever had trouble with watching both, DEL and NHL games, were the German words used for basically the same thing. For illegal plays like slashing, Germans say Stockschlag. The result of such plays is not a penalty but simply a Zeitstrafe. At the same time, Germans say penalty shooting when they actually mean shootout (three shots that determine the winner when the game is still tied after overtime), and in English, a penalty shot is something different altogether. So confusing! Yet the weirdest expression is bully. This is the German word for face-off, the dropping of the puck to continue a game. I guess I might be the only one who is bothered by this, though.

Overall, it’s really such a great sport and even though the German national team hasn’t been doing too well in international tournaments and didn’t qualify for the last Olympic Games, things sure look up when you consider the numerous Germans now playing in the NHL, e. g. Tom Kühnhackl, Leon Draisaitl, Tobias Rieder, or Dennis Seidenberg.

Additionally, ice hockey has given me the best memory of my life as a sports fan when my favorite team, the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009 in a nerve-wracking game seven against the Detroit Red Wings, which reminded me yet again why I love this sport so much. So it’s really kind of sad that I can count the hockey fans that I’ve met in Germany on one hand, although everyone I’ve talked to seems to like at least some sports – hell I’ve even met some German baseballs fans. I thought once I’m studying in Augsburg, this is all going to change – they have the Panthers after all. But that wasn’t the case either since the only hockey fans that I’ve encountered were standing in front of the train station getting ready to leave for an away game. Go figure!

In my opinion, ice hockey is also still sorely overlooked by the media, even though it’s gotten better over the last couple of years and the DEL is now shown on free-TV. So if you’re into sports, just do me a favor: go and see a game if you haven’t yet, even if it’s just on TV and see if you like it (I’m sure you will!). Alternatively, start by watching a movie about hockey, e.g. Mircale. It’s about the surprise victory of the US national team in the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid. It’s one of my favorites! And maybe then, ice hockey will charm you just as much as it charmed me 14 years ago.

Author & Pictures: Alisa Lechky