According to the legend, Munich’s barrel makers danced through the city to announce that the plague (1517) was done and dusted. Since then, the tradition expanded to numerous other locations in Bavaria, from Epiphany to Mardi Gras, once every 7 years.
About 20 men accomplish traditional dance steps, holding green box tires. Two „Kasper“ (clowns) will lovingly caress the cheeks of some spectators, especially young female bystanders, thereby smearing them with grime.
The Vortänzer (first dancer) has the honorable task to stand atop a beer barrel and to juggle with two barrel tires with a full glass of Schnaps in them: not one drop must be lost!
At the beginning only unwed Barrel maker companions with an excellent reputation were allowed to perform the dance. Nowadays the selection rules are less strict to maintain the tradition…
Some groups of dancers offer more than 20 performances a day in the six weeks of the event. Their outfit comprises a bright red doublet, black knee-high trousers, white socks, a green bonnet and a leather apron.