Sunday, October 25, 2009

my cultural, if not legal, education in Holland

well, this weekend was culturally and musically educational, if not, you know, academically productive.

i had a take home exam over the weekend, but instead, allowed myself to be persuaded by my friends to go to an all night dance party that i didn't know anything about, hosted by some deejays i'd never heard of, in a location that i still can't quite remember. it turns out that it was part of the massive week-long citywide Amsterdam Dance Event. this is a huge electronic music festival, featuring all sorts of big names like Armin Van Buuren and Fat Boy Slim and all sorts of other folks i've never heard of, mainly because all my beats-driven electronic music is as Canadian as maple syrup (Kid Koala! Woodhands! MSTRKRFT! Crystal Castles! Holy F---!).

the night was featuring homegrown Dutch deejays, and the club Panama was huge but packed - it was pretty fun to party with the europeans, because we all know europeans love their techno house trance stuff (which has made me appreciate hiphop on whole new levels since i moved to Holland). but i still maintain that i will never understand how europeans love this kind of music so much without being on drugs. we love this kind of music in North America too, but in the context of raves, where nobody would think about attempting an all-nighter without the help of E and eight dollar bottles of water (also, being permanently stuck in the 1990s). because europeans don't seem to do as much drugs as the tourists do, and yet i think that psychedelic drugs are the only way that you can suspend disbelief long enough to not think about the fact that you are listening to the same synthetic riff over and over again for five hours. i say this with love.

despite only leaving the club around 4AM, and still having three questions on my take-home exam to answer, i decided it would be worthwhile to check out this dutch indie pop band i've been following lately, the Madd, who were doing an in-store acoustic performance today at this record store called Phantasio in the beautiful Jordaan area. quite a change from last night's music; these guys are a catchy band that has studied well their influences (the Beatles, etc.). plus their organ player was playing a melodica, so they totally won me over, especially with their cute Dutch accents.

i like this band particularly because they sing some of their songs in French (including "Ce Soir Je Vais Boire" - probably an anthem for exchange students everywhere). i've already expressed how impressed i am at the Dutch ability to compose songs in a second language; so having songs in a third language is all the more neat. plus there's something awesome about hearing French with a Dutch accent.

afterwards, i went to the beautiful public library, where a guy was tinkering away at the public piano. usually folks are playing some crappy Vanessa Carleton or schmultzy lounge jazz - or, in my case when i'm playing it, the same old Leonard Cohen song that i feel inexplicably compelled to play over and over again in my strange bouts of nostalgic patriotic homesickness. but this guy was playing a bewitching composition that was reminiscent of Steve Reich; followed by a faster paced Thelonious Monk-inspired jazz piece; and finally concluding with a honky-tonk blues interpretation of Aretha Franklin's Say a Little Prayer. needless to say, this random guy totally won my heart too. it made my wait for the elevator much more much that i missed my elevator twice.

okay, back to studying i guess. studying law is nowhere near as fun as studying physiotherapy, which is what my floormates do. when i walked into the communal kitchen today, i saw that they had pushed aside all the furniture, and this boy in his shorts was lying spread eagle on the kitchen table, while girls were gathered around him, poking and prodding him in various places while consulting their textbook. i wonder if i should tell them i have whiplash...