From the moment you step off the train station into
officially the national celebration of the birthday of the Queen Mother, but
this in reality is only an excuse to party hard. The celebrations take place
all over the
Festivities begin in
Saturday was the official Queensday and so partying began as soon as you got up and ventured outside. After dancing in the sunshine and drinking far to much alcohol it was time to freshen up and get ready for the big evening party: the Orange Ball. It was a fantastic set up run by promoter Robert Riedijek, www.RiedijkProductions.com. He is the same guy who run’s Amsterdam’s White Party (on the evening of Gay Pride Day) and White Party in London (May 27th).
The following day, Sunday, was the
biggest and most spectacular party of the weekend, the T-dance called Rapido www.ClubRapido.com. It’s a fairly new
event at the multi levelled (converted Church) Paradiso nightclub, holding well
over 1,600 sweaty, beautiful muscle boys (think Salvation in
color, symbolizing national and royal pride, stems from the royal family name -
The Family Nassau, House of Orange. This inheritance dates back to the 16th
century and it is this title that allowed Stadhouder Willam I - Prince of
Orange to declare war on
In the spirit of the day, you’ll find most people wear something orange, while others are decked head to foot in orange drag. Don’t have any orange in your closet? Not to worry, hats, t-shirts, make up, and most things imaginable will be for sale on many corners.
Officially - Koninginedag in Dutch, is the national celebration of the Queen’s birthday. Originally celebrated in September, the holiday began in honor of Queen Wilhelmina and was moved to April 30th when her daughter, Juliana, ascended to the throne. The current ruling Monarch, Queen Beatrix, declared in 1986 that Queensday would remain on April 30th in honor of her mother (and probably because Beatrix’s birthday is in January when it’s too cold for an outdoor festival).
On the day of Queensday, cars and trams are banned within the entire canal belt of the city. Locals begin spreading their goods on the sidewalks, bridges, and curbs around 7:00 in the morning, and the streets begin filling with people between 8:00 and 10:00. Between 10:00 and 20:00, most of the city is a sea of people shopping, drinking, dancing, and just wandering around to gawk at the spectacle. Every street, canal and square in the city can surprise, amuse, delight, and occasionally shock you with its street activities.
While you’ll no doubt see many gay men and women all over town, you’ll find extra special parties in the 3 main areas where the gay bars are concentrated.
The Homomonument resembles a gay pride festival on Queensday, and is the place to be for dancing and entertainment from 14:00 until fairly late at night. Community-orientated performers are interspersed with top dance sets allowing you to enjoy the festivities in the surroundings of the Westerkerk and gay monument. Community organizations have booths set up and food and beer are plentiful.
The Amstel area is the place to be to
experience some real Dutch shmaltz. Without knowing a word of Dutch,
you’ll find yourself singing along to Dutch carnival and middle-of-the-road
classics that the gay boys and girls have been singing since childhood.
With Dutch drag numbers mixed in for entertainment and a few good dance tunes as
well, this is a must for anyone wishing to get a taste of high Dutch camp. Just
down the street from this stage is the Paardenstraat
geared towards the women, though the lesbians of
The Reguliersdwaarstraat, normally a two minute walk from the Amstel, was so congested that it took us almost 40 minutes to reach the stage area. The best dance music in town echoes between the buildings of this narrow street and the high energy attracts a good many straight people who were just passing though, but the trendy go-go boys and affectionate same-sex couples maintain a definitive gay tone to the area.