I noticed this meeting on Cologne's Couch Surfing group page: International Pillow Fight Day. The second anual world-wide pillow fight on the fourth day of the fourth month of the year at four PM. The event organizer said that we'd meet in front of the Dom (“Fuck the police,” were the words that followed that statement.), everyone was to bring his or her own (soft) pillow, and at we would fight everyone and anyone who also held a pillow when then clock struck four. I thought I'd participate. The more the merrier, right?
I checked the event page before I left for Cologne. Someone noted that over a hundred people had signed up to the event on StudiVZ, the German equivalent of Facebook. I thought, “Oh cool. It'll be more than just a few dozen Couch Surfers.”
When I got out at the Cologne train station at a quarter to four, I noticed lots of young kids with pillows. Lots. Hundreds. I saw people toting bulging backpacks, grocery bags, and purses; all of them making their way to the same place. I was filled with gleeful anticipation. I walked to the Domplatz in hopes of spotting some Couch Surfers whom I knew.
The Domplatz was absolutely filled with people! I saw the camera crews of WDR and RTL, the two main television stations in Germany, filming the crowd, asking people questions. I called some friends of mine from my cell phone, asking if they were there. They said that they were in front of the Dom. “You and a thousand other people,” I replied. “Wave your pillow in the air so I can see you.”
I found them, this group of Düsseldorf Couch Surfers. We talked and kept glancing anxiously at our watches. The fight was due to start any minute. I wondered how it would begin. I worried that it would be like a New Year's party where several people are arguing about who's watch is correct as midnight approaches and leaves. Suddenly, a shout rang out in the crowd and, all at once, everyone was swinging their pillows every which way.
As I was slamming a hit against someone's back, I noticed that it looked familiar. It was Ulf, my very first Couch Surfing host. He turned around to hit me back, “Oh hi! How're you?”, he asked, landing a blow to my shoulder. “Good to see you here!”, I answered, hitting him on top of the head. I found two more Cologne Couch Surfers like that and then some friends from Bonn. It was hysterical. We laughed and hit and ducked until we were so winded that we could hardly go on, but then someone would swing at us and we had to hit them back; it was part of the game.
Pillows broke open and feathers flew everywhere. We squinted our eyes against the avian snow and battled on. I paired up with a girlfriend against two of the boys. Someone joined in to help and then we were a ring of people. Some found themselves in the middle of the cushioned violence. It was like a mosh pit, but the good kind.
After the fight, I suggested to our group, which had grown throughout the fight, that we walk down to the Rhein to drink beer and play frisbee. We stayed out there, having fun in the park, until it got too dark to see.