On the Beach

Duri Price

Saturday night I was jonesing for a party. After the week of stress in and leaving London, it was definitely time to blow some energy off. I started asking around the Pig to see who knew of a good party to go to. By now it’s clear that the club scene is pretty mediocre in Amsterdam, but the parties are fantastic. You just had to seek them out, and with the help of a couple of the staff and a website I’d located I found one in The Hague.

The Hague is about an hour away by train (you take the train everywhere in Holland), and the instructions to find the party were “Go to the beach.” I was assured “You can’t miss it!,” which should have clued me in to the fact that I needed to pack some supplies and a tent if I expected to find this place. I traveled with three people from or associated with The Pig, none of whom had better directions than I.

We arrived at the train station in The Hague and started asking questions like “Which way to the ocean?,” marking us to the locals as tourists/morons immediately. We spotted some people who looked like they were going to the same party and asked them for directions. Turned out they were going to a Tekno (yes, with a ‘k’) party and had some directions. So we decided that, given they had

Dumb.

One hour later in a cab, after burning 127 guilders, we had the cabby drop us off on the beach. We had just gotten a tour of Den Hague and learned that following the random dreadlocked party knobs was probably not the best choice we could have made. The cabby of course didn’t understand that we weren’t heading for a typical tourist club and so dropped us off in the tacky beachfront club scene. We were treated to such things as Madonna Karaoke and gigantic 7 foot tall plastic gorilla statues outside a place called The Jungle Club. The evening was not turning out quite as planned.

We wandered up and down the beach for awhile before deciding on a direction to the south and heading that way. On the way we had some nice gentleman in the passenger seat of his car implore us to follow him to the Coat, or The Goat, or The Poke, or whatever the fuck he was saying, we saw the aftermath of a knifing along the beach path that the cops had just discovered, and we were eventually accosted by another couple of lost partyers and their totally smashed native guide. We ditched the native guide and headed out on foot through town to try to find this place.

Ok, I’m not talking about going down some narrow path a mile or two long and hoping to run into a party. I’m talking about heading through the beach and harbor area of a unfamiliar town with the idea that somewhere between here and Rotterdam there might be a party somewhere, and we just needed to find it. This isn’t quite as obsessive as it first seems, since the trains didn’t start running until 8 am as far as we knew, and we were essentially trapped in town anyway. What else were we going to do?

Three hours after we got off the train we finally asked a passing bicyclist if he “knew where the party was,” and he was vaguely able to give us directions. It was complicated by the fact that he didn’t remember for sure which way he’d been riding his bicycle just prior to us stopping him, but we eventually made our way into the right park area and heard the music.

The party was being held in a beach park, in a shallow sandy depression surrounded by trees and low brush. About 200 people were there, which was small for a party, but it was 4 am by the time we got there anyway.

The rest of the morning was dancing. I danced enthusiastically to whatever they played, and couldn’t help but look around and smile. I was a very long way from home, dancing to the dawn on a clear blue morning in a beach grotto with a couple hundred people I didn’t know. People lay scattered about all over the sand in little campsites and clubs, drinking water, a little alcohol, a fair amount of “other,” and relaxing. There was nothing like violence, no one getting hurt, and everyone just having a lot of fun. As the sun broke the horizon a cheer went up from the crowd and the music picked up the beat so that we could all dance to the dawn.

Eventually a couple of Dutch cops showed up and shut down the music. It appears that the local fauna would be disturbed and there was a law against that. They were friendly about it and the crowd stayed mellow, so there weren’t any hard feelings as far as I could tell. The cops had no problem with us staying until we wanted to leave and/or had slept off what we’d drunk or taken, so most people just broke up into little groups and slept or talked or watched the dawn. My companions bailed around 7am, but I met new people and stayed until it started getting hot around 11am.

Parties like this have a mixed reputation, mostly with people who aren’t familiar with them. Personally, my experience is that while they aren’t completely harmless (you can get hurt on drugs if you aren’t careful, or twist your ankle or something), they’re much less sketchy than many of the bars and dance clubs you’ll find in the “popular” area of any major city in the US. It seems like you hear about a fight, knifing or drunken accident every weekend at allot of the legal and typical clubs (not to mention frat parties in the US), but the parties in contrast are relatively safe, at least in Holland.

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