“Gässlegehe” literally translates to “walking the lanes”. To many participants it is a vital part of Fasnacht activities, a rather meditative part. Outside the parades they roam the streets playing flutes or drums, some alone, some in small groups of two, three, or ten or twelve.
You’ll hear the sound of flutes or drums approaching at random in the quieter side streets and lanes of the centre, on Münsterberg, along the Rhine promenade, on the bridges, in Kleinbasel as well. They appear out of nowhere, pass and disappear round the next corner, totally absorbed.
They walk in the same slow marching tact, 90 steps per minute, as during Morgestraich and play the traditional tunes respective rhythms. It’s the same timeless and aimless motion.
Father and son
Photographers – such groups of Gässlegeher give you the chance to catch fine shots of the masks in broad daylight.
But please be discreet and don’t disturb them. They won’t want to pose for your camera, they want to wander and play their music.
This is my favourite Gässle photo, which I have already used in the introduction. I caught these three in Augustinergasse on the way up to Münsterplatz. In the square they paused and took off their masks, and I saw that they were three young girls of about thirteen.
A peculiar outfit: Everything, really everything from head to toe is knitted, even the mask and the wig.
In the run of the Monday the Guggemusik bands, who are banned from Morgestraich, begin to make their appearance in the streets. Gugge bands will be out and about any thime from then onwards until the wee hours of Thursday morning. Day and night.
Parked lanterns, piles of drums or brass instruments and Larven outside a “Beiz”, a pub or restaurant, indicate that the owners are taking a break from all that marching and enjoying a rest and a refreshment inside.
Often they unintendedly create the finest still-lifes that scream for the camera to be set to work. (Looking and taking photos is fine as long as the photographer does not come too close and does not touch anything.)