Thigh-slapping, whip-cracking folk dancing à la Bavaria ... Even colleagues from Nünchritz in neighboring Saxony shake their heads at these quaint Bavarian customs, while WACKER employees in, say, Shanghai or São Paolo would be mystified by the Almenrausch-Lindach National Costume society’s activities. For many people in Burghausen, however, they are living tradition. “We’re not putting on an act here,” says WACKER’s Michael Straßer, who is an active member. “For us, there is a clear boundary between custom and kitsch.”
Philipp Landsberger (left), Selina Krause and Michael Straßer from the Almenrausch-Lindach National Costume society. The impressive maypole in the Burghausen park.
Anyone who wants to understand what makes people “tick” at WACKER’s parent plant in Burghausen will inevitably come up against institutions such as the Trachtenverein (National Costume society). It’s not about pitting tradition against modernity or locals against newcomers; on the contrary, for many families who come to Burghausen, the society offers the opportunity to integrate and make friends. There are several members from North Germany, says Straßer, who looks after the folk dancing side of things.
Indeed Almenrausch-Lindach has been a home from home for guest workers right from its inception in 1920. At the time, the Burghausen National Costume society, with its rural origins and membership, would have nothing to do with the penniless lads from Bad Tölz or Miesbach who came to WACKER as factory workers and lived in the new part of town. In response, the newcomers founded their own society. The original Miesbach costume also dates back to this period.
Since then, the society has maintained close links with WACKER. Almost all the site managers have been members, and many of the families’ association with the society is as long as their connection to WACKER. The Straßers, too, who have been employed at WACKER for three generations, currently have three generations active in the National Costume society, from grandfather to the youngest granddaughter. “Our society is special because everyone is treated equally, regardless of a person’s position in the hierarchy,” says Michael Straßer, who works at Site Communications.
Michael Straßer (left), Selina Krause and Philipp Landsberger wearing the traditional Miesbach costume in the Burghausen park, which is home to the Almenrausch-Lindach National Costume society’s clubhouse.
As a teenager in the 1980s, he himself performed folk dances for WACKER’s Japanese and American guests. Today he only dances from time to time “so as not to forget the steps.” He also is learning to play the zither at the society. He inherited the instrument from his father – a chemist at WACKER who was somewhat of an institution. Every Thursday, Straßer cycles over to the clubhouse during his lunch break and receives free lessons there.
The society has more than 500 members today, 85 children and young people up to the age of 27 who actively participate in the folk dancing and music making. They even compete against other societies, for instance in Schuhplattler dancing competitions. What counts here is not only the quality of the performance, but also the appearance of the performers, explains Michael Straßer. “The costume must be worn in full with well-polished shoes – and as for tattoos or earrings – they are considered inappropriate.”