Back in 2000 I had a Czech girlfriend named Jana, so the first time I ever saw the Czech Rep. was with her acting as tourguide. Her version of Prague included a multitude of museums and old buildings. I got to see the house Kafka lived in (you would not believe how small that building is) and took some lovely pictures of suits of armour and tapestries. And so, for a while, that's what I thought of Prague, quaint, old world, a little quiet and half a step behind modern Europe.
Although in retrospect I had already met Dexter the previous year I couldn't remember that at the time and I ended up going to Todexon 1 completely by accident. I was bord and pulled up footbag.org to see if there was anything new and there it was. I remember thinking "There are freestyler's in Prague?" I didn't have the time to spare, but that had never stopped me before so I fired off an e-mail asking if I could crash with someone.
I was picked up at the station by Ondra who took me imediately to a bar still carryng my bags. This was a ritual we would repeat every time I visited Prague. There I met Dexter, TMS and a bunch of other people, ate Fajitas (living in Germany has made me savour every chance I get to eat Tex-Mex cuisine) and drank a lot of beer. I don't remember when we got back, but I know that no sane person will ever challange a Czech to a drinking contest. Sometime around 5 in the morning, when I was just getting to sleep I got woken up my a bunch of groggy Germans. The Berlin crew had taken a night bus with a broken heater (broken as in sauna-like). At some point I just gave up on sleep.
TOmas, DExter and ONdra (TODEXON) wanted to play 3 rounds in one day starting at 10 in the morning. I later found out Dexter showed up at 7 to help set up, briefly lay down on a couch, threw up and went back home. Much later I would find out they had told the guy they were renting the sound system from to bring everything over at 9. Being a sane person he had assumed they meant 9 pm. We only ever cought bits and pieces of this though, the whole day we were just told to keep warm because we were going to start any min. Because none of the Germans spoke Czech, having studied Russian I could at least make out bits and pieces and somehow became unofficial translator. Everytime an announcement was made telling us everything was delayed again one of the Germans would come up to me asking what had been said.
While we were warming up my first surprise came from berliner Alex Michelewski. He was hitting blurriest all over the place all day, a trick I'd never seen anyone in Germany do. I asked him about it and it turns out I'd hit one on video the first time I was in Berlin. For the next year he'd watched that tape of me over and over trying to learn all the tricks I'd done. I think I was also a little surprised how much energy there was in Prague. These were the days before Vasek, before Ales, before Honza or even Moglum. They weren't exactly world class, but it didn't matter. They had tons of players and a wonderful scene. The last (pleasant) surprise was the fans.
Once everything finally started rolling it's hard to describe exactly what it was like being there. From a strictly practical stand point it couldn't have been worce. Todexon 1 took place in a small, poorly lit, poorly ventilated club called Luxor. The floor was covered in a dark carpet and since no one from Berlin seemed to have remembered a bag we all ended up playing with mine, which was black and dark purple. I hadn't played for 2 months and none of us had slept the night before. So there we were playing for hours on end in a dark smoke filled room reaking of alcohol, crowded in by the unrestricted masses playing to exhaustion and beyond and it was fantastic.
Every trick, every kick the crowd went wild. I've never experienced that kind of energy again and I needed it. By the end of the final shred we'd been playing more or less constantly for 13 hours. When we finally got to the final I was so worn out I could barely hold on for 5 tricks at a time, but proped up by the cheering crowd, force of will and a fair amount of beer I won. We briefly went back to Dexter's to shower then came back where I was treated like a rock star and everyone kept buying me drinks. After I'd tipped the bar tender for the second time he refused to let me pay for anything. I spent hours getting drunk with a beautiful girl and then we went off to Roxy where we danced till 5 in the morning.
Later at 10 in the morning while everyone else was peacefully sleeping off their hangovers I had to get up to catch my train back to Germany for school the next day. Without exageration after playing all day one day and spending a big chunk of the next sitting in a train at school on Monday I couldn't stand up under my own power. I spent that Monday and most of Tuesday carefully choosing where I sat where I was able to pull myself up with my arms and avoiding stairs. After that the Prague crew couldn't get rid of me. Fuck Disney Land, Prague is the happiest place on earth.
As a final memory, one of the Berlin crew, Lars, was so tired he actually fell asleep between rounds and was only woken up when he heard the MC call his name to perform. Thanks for reading.