Bonn A smaller version of the Panama Open Air Festival is taking place this weekend in the Rheinaue. All visitors must be vaccinated, recovered or tested. Even if it is still not exactly the norm again, about 5,000 visitors are expected each day.
Some of the images in the Rheinaue on Friday afternoon - we haven’t seen anything like them for a long time: Young people dancing, swaying their arms to the rhythm of the DJs' beats. Some close their eyes, others have big smiles on their faces - and this is visible because they don't have to wear masks. No one has to abide by the rules of social distancing on the festival grounds either. People hug each other, sing to the top of their lungs, join arms and make their way around the expansive festival grounds.
A total of 5,000 electronic music fans made a pilgrimage to the Rheinaue this Friday to party until late at night at three different stages. It was made possible by the Panama Open Air Festival, which is organized this weekend with a "Surprise Edition" by RheinEvents. All visitors must either be vaccinated, recovered or have presented a PCR test. Police and the public order office are on location, making sure that all rules are followed.
Panama Open Air Festival is completely sold out
The festival took place on Friday and will happen again on Saturday and is completely sold out. It is more or less the little sister of the regular Panama Open Air Festival, which is scheduled to take place again in its usual form next year. It will then run over several days with up to 25,000 visitors. The fact that it is possible to celebrate on a smaller scale this weekend is made possible by the new Corona Protection Ordinance for major events in North Rhine-Westphalia. Even the dark clouds, a short rain shower and a storm warning for strong thunderstorms could not dampen the party mood. A total of 10,000 visitors are permitted altogether - 5,000 per day.
"It all feels very normal"
"It all feels very normal," says organizer Sandro Heinemann with a smile of contentment. He adds, "It has a little taste of the Rhine in Flames." That's because his team always sets up a large stage in the same place for the big festival in the Rheinaue in May.
As the bass booms, he explains that at Panama, it's usually the bass that's a problem. There are constant noise measurements during the event. "In the Kulturgarten at Römerbad, it's the voices of the singers," Heinemann says. In the evening, the basses have already been controlled once - everything is within limits, he says.
Lots of Covid hygiene protocol in place
Even though the mood is exuberant and it seems as if Covid has long been forgotten, organizer Heinemann has put many extra measures in place to ensure a safe festival for guests. There are toilets, urinals, disinfection stations, shortened cleaning intervals and specially trained staff. He emphasizes that the hygiene standard at the Panama Open Air has always been "very high" for years.
For some visitors it is nevertheless a strange feeling to be without mask again, not having to keep a distance and being able to party. "It's a very different feeling than before. Last week I was at a festival in Frankfurt - you had to wear a mask," said 24-year-old Mark from Herten. He said he was vaccinated, but "of course it's not 100 percent protection."
28-year-old Laura from Bonn had a similar opinion. "It's very weird right now. But it's nice that there's a bit of normality again. We're enjoying that together here now," she told GA.
Something for the ears and eyes
On Friday, 16 artists performed on three different stages. On the Mainstage, headliners included Hidden Empire and Adam Beyer. On the Blumengarten stage, the French DJ Hugel and David Puentez got visitors revved up. At the popular Bretterbude stage, Klanglos and Pappenheimer, among others, showed the Bonn crowd why they were booked by the organizers as headliners. But it wasn’t only about what one could hear, the festival is also known for its opulent decorations and that was a feast for the eyes. The partying continues on Saturday.
Orig. text: Maximilian Mühlens - Translation: ck