“Don’t go to Amsterdam,” they said. “Your car will be burned, you’ll get stuck on a train, the noise will perforate your eardrums,” they said. Bullshit. Queen’s Day in Amsterdam was actually quite bearable. But walking down the crowded streets overflowing with orange, I was wondering what is it with this particular day that it lures so many tourists, Dutchies and people with mild mental disabilities to the capital? I found a few psychological explanations.
It is deeply rooted in our primal nature to belong to the crowd of similarly looking co-members of the tribe. Jumping in perfect harmony, chanting mysterious noises unknown to the outsiders, and feasting in times of prosperity is a hard-to-resist tribal instinct. I even noted some elements of the Viking heritage. At daybreak, just like their ancestors, small groups of adventurers board the boats in a quest for entertainment, alcohol, and women. After a few hours of floating around, they might not remember their initial goal anymore, but they certainly still enjoy the journey.
Another reason has more to do with the individual self than with social needs. Queen’s Day is a great opportunity to boost your confidence and feed your feeling of superiority. If you see someone whose enormous orange bow pinned to their hair miserably slide down to the level of their ears, whose painted Dutch flag has been sadly smudged from the cheek all the way to the forehead, and whose high heels can no longer hold a shaky figure, you feel like pointing a finger at them and, quoting the Simpsons, proclaim the judgmental ‘ha-ha!’ And the beauty of Queen’s Day is that you can.
Or perhaps you feel trapped in society, with your creativity suppressed by rules and your originality drowned in a sea of mediocrity? Then it’s high time to take off your grey suit and toss it into the canals, for Amsterdam on Queen’s Day is full of fascinating people freely expressing their individuality. Some of them were creative enough to get their inspiration from the art of cinema, and looked like douchebags in their blindingly orange Borat outfits.
Published: Univers no 12, May 10, 2012