On a recent hushed winter night on Summit Avenue, you might have heard something unexpected emanating from the basement of the Germanic-American Institute (GAI) -- the thump-thump-thump of techno music.

The nonprofit organization finished its annual Winterfest with a party in the ratskeller. On most days, the focus of the institute is education through immersion schools for kids and programs for adults, as well as the appreciation of German culture.

"More Minnesotans have German heritage than any other ethnicity -- we actually beat the Norwegians and the Swedes," said executive director Jeana Anderson.

The pretzels and steins of beer certainly helped Mary Aronson get her "fix" between trips to Oktoberfest in Germany. She and the high-energy crowd packed the dance floor for the catchy "Burger Dance."

"Leave it to Germans to take a children's song and turn it into a beer-drinking song," Aronson said.

Sara Glassman • 612-673-7177