This morning on Twitter there was a bit of a heated discussion going on about the area outside the Central Moravian Church, colloquially known as Pubertyplatz. During Musikfest this unofficial platz is where adolescents have congregated for as long as I can remember. The discussion was sparked by an article in The Morning Call where “the potential for trouble” was reported on. I’ll give you a few moments to read that article and rejoin me.

All done? Good. Depending on your disposition, you’re probably either terrified of frequenting that area of town or have a reaction along the lines of WTF? To oversimplify my position, I’d say that my mindset is the latter. I’ve not been a teenager for a while, but I do defend their right to hang out and have a good time.

While crowds of all persuasions pack downtown Bethlehem during Musikfest, apparently only when that crowd is predominantly made up of teenagers is it considered a threat. Concerns with that group range from people being rude, to fights, to spitting and vandalism. I don’t condone any of that, and I believe that anyone breaking the law should be dealt with accordingly (read: haul their butt off to jail). As I walk through that area I have seen the behaviors that people are talking about. I know exactly what that article is talking about. Do you know where else I’ve seen it? Everywhere else at Musikfest. The people exhibiting this less than acceptable behavior were from all walks of life, and some were, believe it or not, adults (at least chronologically). I don’t think it’s fair to say that a group of teenagers (term loosely used) is any more trouble than any large group of people.

I’m not sure what it is that is so scary about that particular age group, but it clearly has quite a few people up in arms. I have to ask what those very people did when they were in their salad days. Some claim that they never would have exhibited irresponsible behavior. To that, I call BS. They are either lying or have selective amnesia. Even if they were little cherubs, to say that the entire adolescent demographic is a bunch of delinquents is irresponsible and ageist.

When I asked the question of where would you rather young adults spend their time, I was met with a reaction along the lines of “that’s not my responsibility to figure out, I just want them gone.” I’ve long been of the opinion that if you don’t have a suggested solution to the problem, you don’t have a right to complain about something. I don’t claim that everyone has the power to implement their solution, but complaining for its own sake does nothing but make people upset.

Instead of forgetting what it’s like to be a young person and exhibiting a “get off my lawn” attitude I’d love to hear some suggestions to engage the crowds that frequent the area at the intersection of Main and Church streets. One great idea that came up this morning would be to have some sort of performance in that area. Lyrikplatz is nearby, but its location is lower than street level which means you have to look for it and its programming hasn’t been in line with what “kids today” are into. Maybe moving the Lyrikplatz stage to the lawn front of the church and programming to the people who are going to gather there anyway instead of causing conflict (intentionally or not) by having programming that is largely enjoyed by a traditionally older audience.

I’m open to any and all ideas on the “problem” that is Pubertyplatz. I may be considered “old” now that I’m thirty, but I do remember what it’s like to be a teenager and I think that they have a right to attend Musikfest just as much as anyone else. I welcome your thoughts on the matter, even if they disagree with me, but trolling comments will be removed. Let’s have some meaningful dialogue and come up with good suggestions that can be used to address the problem instead of just whining about it.

2 thoughts on “Pubertyplatz

  1. I wonder how long Musikfest will hold on to Main Street. The venue area on South Side by the Stacks appears to be large enough to move the Main Street entertainment over to there. That said, I realize that isn’t a solution to the issue at hand (the same crowd would likely still gather either on Main, or find new home on South Side). But, I do think it may spread out the crowd, at least temporarily, as with traffic on Main St, they wouldn’t be able to congregate quite as much. I whole-heartedly agree however, that if they want to entertain the younger crowd, rather than “shun” them and complain about them, then a dance/DJ type of environment would be really cool. I’m 38 but still like to listen to dance music and go to clubs… so it wouldn’t have to be entirely aimed at teens… make it a mixed crowd, but the teens would probably come if they had some good DJs. Not sure why Musikfest has never (at least to my recollection) had electronica/dance/DJ music at a venue? It IS still Music.

  2. I’m right there with you Todd, now that I’ve read it. I recall walking past pubertyplatz a few years ago and saying to Alex “when are they going to find something to do with that area?” It’s certainly not the prettiest part of the festival, and neither the most active…but it’s a largely self-controlled area and I even respect it for it’s tradition in some ways.
    Of course there’s a part of me that wants to put out a 16 year old’s cigarette, knock the slurpee out of his hand and onto his dish-rag dawning girlfriend that he’s been making out with for the last two hours and walk away after telling him to pull up his pants…but hey, nobody ever did that to me when I was with my crew at that age, and I know how I’d feel if someone did–even IF looking back on it I’d certainly understand.
    I couldn’t come up with anything better than the dance/dj idea that Paul mentioned above. Although I’m not sure how that would go as far as displacement is concerned. I think pubertyplatz largely exists as a yearning for effortless attention from these kids. It’s right there in a busy intersection as their own stage for them to just hang there. As far as the problems with spitting, fighting, etc. I think it should already be a heavily secured area just because of the busy location. The dumbest kids will fight, spit, etc. and get caught by security–survival of the fittest. The ones who are there to stand there converse and quietly model the newest line of black clothing and dish rags will simply carry the tradition.

    Or they could put a Starbucks there.

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