“Like a bitch!” said Lars, when I asked him how the Dutch say “Cheers!”
My face tipped skyward as my laugh sailed out across the seething mass of humanity that is a music festival. I scooted across the VIP couch, but even with my ear right next to Lars’ mouth, all I could hear was an accented variation of “LIKE-A BITCHA.”
Finally a pen and paper revealed what my hearing could not: Lekker biertje!
He translated the phrase as”nice beer.” Clearly “lekker biertje” has a more enthusiastic ring to it. As does “like a bitch!”
Thanks to Lars’ connection to the big boss who puts on the Pacha festival, I had several chances to practice “lekker biertje” throughout the night. 1always starting with ”˜like a bitch’ in my head – A week later, I would end up on == a farm in Portugal run by a Dutch couple who frequently demonstrated the use of “lekker” — the food was “lekker,” the sunshine was “lekker,” hanging out in the pool was “lekker” — really, all of farm life was lekker, lekker, lekker!
Lars’ complimentary wristbands got us into the festival. We spent the evening on the VIP 2they say vip, rhymes with sip, flip & dip, etc. platform, taking advantage of an open bar stocked with Moet, mixers, and top shelf booze. We floated above the crowed, watching a fascinating mix of people. The majority were very polished, wearing the latest mainstream fashions and providing fantastic eye-candy. The number of women holding hands made me wonder if the scene shared any similarities with Lilith Fair. The flower-in-your-hair hippie look is back in: several women sported floral headbands. While there were lots of white people, the crowd wasn’t without diversity.
Early in the night, with the springtime sun still well above the horizon, Lars insisted on taking us up in the Ferris wheel to see the bird’s-eye-view of the scene. Surveying the energy of the crowd, I gleefully declared I was in the rare mood to imbibe impressive quantities of alcohol. As we approached the top, I laughed and shared my exciting revelation: “You guys”¦ I think I’m going to get drunk tonight!”
From the air, we could see the iconic Pacha cherries placed strategically throughout the festival grounds. The event itself is named for a famous nightclub franchise with headquarters in Ibiza 3Spain’s party island. From the VIP platform, we had an unobstructed view of the impressive stage — set in the center of a pair of massive red lips.
As the sunlight faded away, flames and awesome lighting effects were deployed. With the bass line throbbing in my throat, I watched the fists pumping in the air, sipped my Moet, and accidentally made trouble for the big boss 4whose ex-wife/mother of his children was also hanging out on the VIP platform. As my great friend and I ferried drinks down to her sister and brother in law, I failed to restrain my glee. I suppose there are worse things than having to listen to your crazy American friend giggle and repeat over and over, “I am so happy!”
The longer the festival went on, the more grateful I was to be a VIP platform resident — and not for a reason you might guess. The open bar, comfy couches, fantastic view, and private bathroom access were all great. But the best part? Not having to stand in a giant trash pile. I wrote recently about the highly regulated trash system in Amsterdam. Given the strict garbage guidelines the Dutch adhere to in their daily lives, seeing every empty beer cup end up on the ground surprised me a bit. Maybe the majority of the littering louts weren’t Netherlands residents? Regardless, after only five or six hours it looked like a super-concentrated version of the New Orleans streets at 2 a.m. during Mardi Gras!
The DJ music festival was a first for me. The person spinning tracks seems to have almost god-like status. Each DJ revved up the crowd like a tribal leader, sometimes looking like an aerobics instructor on speed. The DJ went crazy on stage and the hordes followed, screaming louder, pumping arms harder, dancing with renewed fervor. The crescendo at the end of the night was a huge fireworks display.
The next day, we debated whether or not the fireworks were worth the cost to the franchise. None of the attendees we knew, including ourselves, remembered them clearly. It was thanks only to video replays that anyone could be sure they even happened.
However I *did remember* some of my thoughts from the evening’s bus ride home:
- Amsterdam isn’t quite as tidy as I expected. Medians, roadside verges, and canal banks are generally feral affairs vs. the orderly landscaped versions seen elsewhere. (Germany!)
- The city is also more spacious than I expected. I thought it would be canal after canal with steep-roofed houses towering all around. However, the picturesque scenes for which Amsterdam is known are the exception vs. the rule. 5”¦in terms of geographic quantity. To be sure, there are enough idyllic canals, bicycles, and iconic houses to leave an impression on every city-goer.
- Modern buildings are far more common, especially in the city center, than I would have guessed.
- Outside the center, utilitarian structures dominate. nondescript buildings full of apartments line streets radiating out from downtown.
- The bright side to the water problems faced by the Dutch: everything is really, really green! On a run from my friend’s apartment, I quickly ended up among lush farms. But first I passed through a golf course where I saw a *gorgeous pheasant* (wtf?!)
- The Dutch efficiency extends far beyond control of water. To my delight, a “connexxions” screen exists in many trams, busses, and trains. Who needs a smartphone?! Switching from one mode to another is a breeze — no frantic searching for platform listings when you disembark before sprinting to make your connection!
The listing of “connexxions” actually saved me from complete disaster on the day I left the Netherlands. But that’s another story. â™£
|↑1||always starting with ”˜like a bitch’ in my head – A week later, I would end up on == a farm in Portugal run by a Dutch couple who frequently demonstrated the use of “lekker” — the food was “lekker,” the sunshine was “lekker,” hanging out in the pool was “lekker” — really, all of farm life was lekker, lekker, lekker!|
|↑2||they say vip, rhymes with sip, flip & dip, etc.|
|↑3||Spain’s party island|
|↑4||whose ex-wife/mother of his children was also hanging out on the VIP platform|
|↑5||”¦in terms of geographic quantity. To be sure, there are enough idyllic canals, bicycles, and iconic houses to leave an impression on every city-goer.|