It’s no secret why the revellers at big, messy, drink-fuelled street festivals like Love Parade and Mardi Gras prefer to paint their faces and bodies. What better way to dodge the consequences of their actions? Those morning-after flashbacks that leave one thinking, “That wasn’t me, was it?” are just a lot easier to deal with if one looked like a different person the night before.
Historically, body painting has served a more mystical purpose, as well. Since tribal times, humans have painted themselves like the spirits whose powers they hoped to channel, the animals they hoped to hunt, and the great warriors and lovers that they hoped to emulate. These days people continue to paint themselves like animals, aliens, fairies, cyborgs, zombies and more. They do it to take on a new identity as much as to hide their old one (as long as the new identity has cool hair and multicoloured skin).
Lately, people have been painting themselves like zombies for the sake of social commentary too. The Zombie Walk movement, which began as an elaborate movie tribute, has been used by Occupy protestors to mock capitalism’s mindless ‘work-shop-die’ mantra. George A. Romero made a similar point with his 1980s film, Dawn of the Dead. It failed to change Western mall culture though, so its anti-consumerist message is probably worth resurrecting (pardon the pun).
Alternative Berlin’s 666 Anti Pub-Crawl visits venues that feature live body painting from time to time. Join us for a night out and we’ll show you that this city has more than one face… and, maybe, that you do too!