Excerpt from the Jim Stingl's Write up in the Journal Sentinal on Jan 12th 2017.
I can try to describe Muller Fasching Verein Nordamerika, but there's nothing like seeing them burst through the door and take over a room.
They're in wooden masks and elaborate costumes. They're noisy and a little scary. They're dancing and offering everyone swigs of booze from flasks.
And they're keeping alive a 300-year-old pre-Lenten folk custom from the mountains of Austria.
Born here in Germantown 20 years ago, they call themselves Milwaukee Mullers for short, and they claim theirs is the only club of its kind in the United States.
What they do is part heritage, part hallucination.
"It's just a merriment," said Rodney Raasch, one of the founders. "It's like a 3-ring circus.There's something going on all over the room.
I can attest to that. At one point I found myself face-to-face with a heinous witch who insisted that we dance. The witch's name, I learned later, is Jack. Underneath their masks, all the characters are males just like in the old country.
"I carry a broom," Jack Suworoff said, "and I sweep your feet and that's to sweep all your sins away from the previous year."
My first experience with the Mullers came at a party last Saturday night at, of all places, an Irish pub, O'Donoghue's in Elm Grove. Our hosts, my friends Kathy and Bob Lemke, had seen the troupe at Kegel's Inn a couple years ago and invited them as a surprise attraction at their gathering.
A bus pulled up out front and about 30 Mullers poured into the bar in a baffling mix of colorful outfits, masks and feathery flowery headgear. If it was a bank, you might reach for the ceiling.
Three accordion squeezers played them into the room. Percussion was provided by woodmen or Kloetzlers, two characters who gyrated in robes made of wooden slats.
One performer came as a bear who kept sneaking up on partygoers with his huge toothy face. A trainer pulled on a chain to hold him back.
Four guys in lederhosen shorts took over the middle of the room with a thigh-slapping dance called Schuhplattler to the strains of a Muller waltz. They were surrounded, I learned later, by characters representing the four seasons of the year — the Halbweisse, Melcher, Zaggler and Zottler.
The dancing and carrying-on lasted about 20 minutes. It's meant to give us hope for the arrival of spring, while driving evil spirits from our midst.
Read More Here from Jim's Article - Journal Sentinal Write Up - Jan 12th.