days 1 and 2

by Ted Cleaver

10 Euros Worth of Advice

That’s what you get when you share money and ideas with a bum. Advice is for free, but worthless, instead of priceless, when it falls on deaf ears. All that’s left is the pecuniary offering. I’m tired, excuse my pessimism.

Buddha and I drank fresh squeezed fruit juice on the square in front of the church today. A bum comes by and starts complaining about the fact that she’s no longer allowed to sell Holland’s crappiest newspaper anymore. But, she has a solution! She offers to perform a poem of hers in exchange for money. We agree. To our surprise, the poem is not half bad. Since we’re social and humane human beings, we welcome her. A barrage of self-pity and egocentrism ensues.

We find out that she has a history of violent abuse which in her mind prompted a 27-year period of drug abuse – heroin. Her life bitterly sucks. Governmental budget cuts are the end of all but one shelter in our city, according to her. The police circles around on bikes, very much willing to give her a fine for begging. She laments that she’s not allowed on terraces. She complains about the people from the shelter calling her, asking whether she will stay with them. They run an organisation, they have lists, they have rules. She finds them annoying. She hates Mark Rutte, who calls bums second rate people and who, according to her, would not survive two days on the street.

I look at Buddha and say I seriously doubt that, we laugh. He’d probably have a steady place to stay and a way out of the misery of homelessness within a week. Here’s the thing: He’s in office because he gets something that eludes her. An unfair comparison, of course, but its warranted. And here’s why.

The message of her poetry – we were treated to two in the end, no sarcasm intended – was treating people with love and respect. Naturally, as a bum, she receives little respect. In turn, she deals with the constant disrespect by hating on the people who actually help her. Not us, of course, she loved us and the conversation we offered. No, she hated on the people from the shelter, told us how she disrupted a review board deliberating over her potential future in a project by bursting in the room and showing off scars on her back, and well, best of all, telling her psychiatrist he has all the mental afflictions he diagnosed her with himself. Freudian psychology at its best.

If you want respect, give respect. If you want to be loved, give love. If you want to be taken serious, take people seriously. She does neither. Her life sucks bitterly. At least she got more than 10 euros today. And maybe, just maybe, some of our lessons on Mandela, Buddha, self-reflection, and optimism did not fall on deaf ears. Doubt it though.

On average 3.50

That’s all you need for a night out in Rotterdam. Not always, obviously, but in the event that two major locations throw massive parties the smaller, more intimate clubs need to adjust their entrance fees. Capitalizing on this, I went to two parties that were more than their money’s worth – by a mile. At least!

Of course, the vibe is always dependent on your company. Going out with new people is always a bit of a gamble, because who knows, the newbies might feel uncomfortable or worse in a wild club. I mean, if you are used to partying like a boss you embrace the freedom to mix it up. But looking at what went down that Saturday objectively, it becomes pretty clear this is not the type of place you should take your mother-in-law – unless she grew up in Studio 54. My crew of the night? Seasoned party people and eager, open-minded aspirants.

So we rendezvous for drinks chez moi and ride our bikes to location A, just in time to get in the club for free. Its relatively empty, as expected, but the dark atmosphere, corridor-like layout, and most of all hundreds of light sabers decorating the ceiling create the right vibe. As do we. And the DJ’s. Two fantastic sets move the crowd, whipping up energy second only to Maori tribal dances. Mind you, the comparison relates the intensity of energy alone. During these little adventures the mind state is mutual inclusion. Mutual inclusion, the occasional obnoxious drunk unable to reciprocate a welcoming attitude doesn’t get in. It’s our circle, open and closed at the same time. A popular and perhaps necessary arrangement, as the chaotic social situation is catalysed by peak activity in our amygdales but mediated by forming stable structures. Our cypher is dope. And just like us, others are having the time of their lives together with their friends.

We left location A after one friend got tired and went home. Off to location B, 7 euros entrance for a packed party with two floors. Hip hop in the bar area and house/techno in the basement. Ethanol reigns on the ground floor while a different type of medication has apparently circulated in the black-lit underground. My flavour: Water and apple juice. Try it. Bouncing to hip hop tunes is a welcome change of pace, but this party soon turns into a show. People losing their balance, literally falling over, is just the beginning. Two gyals back it up so hard to Chuckie’s party anthem that the recipients of their enthusiasm throw up their hands in surrender. Still cracking up, we go outside for a cigarette and a Dutch lesson, only to witness four aggravated usual suspects nurturing the illusion they could take on the bouncers. Nothing remarkable happens, except for my lovely friend calming down the main antagonist with a smile and well-meant advice. After all this we finish a fantastic night out in the empathy chamber, dancing. I know the five girls I’m with are beautiful, but my mind is blown when one of them gets a foot massage in the club – with her shoes still on.

So on average 3.50 for a nice night of clubbing. The company was great and this wasn’t the last time we’re going out together. As for me, I was born free. Dancing is my passion. Friends are always there and music will always move me. Enjoying life to the fullest is priceless.