Welcome to Tijuana

Did you know that the city of Rotterdam organizes a Summer Carnaval in June? Me neither. It’s all very confusing, because the festival has nothing to do with Carnaval celebrated by the Southern Dutchies, but rather with the Latin American celebrations in winter.

In any case, Rotterdam lured me in for the festivities with the Manu Chao & La Ventura concert. It didn’t feel like the Netherlands anymore because of the exotic atmosphere brought by all the Mexicans, Spanish and Portuguese fans. If you feel as lost as I was in the multiculti setting, here is a short guideline of how to melt into the melting pot.

Chant football songs regardless of location. A concert is a perfect occasion to clap and roar “Oé, Oé, Oééééé, Oééééé, Oééééé!” Engage as many people as possible, pointing fingers at them and yelling two times louder, hoping that they will follow your lead and not leave you hanging.

If you don’t know the song lyrics, especially when they are in Spanish, French or Portuguese, accentuate international words that you recognize and know. If you attend a Manu Chao concert, just sing “na-na-na-na-na-na…MARIJUANA!”

Share the love. If you bring your own booze and a million extra plastic cups, distribute them to the people around you. If a lady refuses to accept your kindness, cram the plastic cup into her hands. The moment that rosé wine lands in her cleavage, cry out “Oééééé!”

Taking girls onto your shoulders is much appreciated, but if you want to be worshiped as a real hero, you have to do better. Spot a guy already with a girl on his shoulders and take him onto yours by surprise. It looks especially impressive after you’ve had a few too many beers. Girls like it when being all wobbly adds additional excitement to seeing broken pieces of glass on the ground from three meters high.

Published: Univers no. 14, 27 June 2013

By Night

Friday, 11 pm, Kandinskybar

“Would you mind sitting on my coat?” a man in his mid-30s asks a girl sitting on a bar stool. She looks at him blankly. Even though she usually understands Dutch, at this moment she doubts her language skills. To make sure that she heard correctly, she chats with the man for a while. Apparently the overcrowded bar provides no more space to hang a coat and the man wants neither to lose it, nor put it in a dirty corner. She is still not sure, though, if the man’s question derived from his pragmatism or from some strange sexual preference.azc Regardless of the reason, she spends the rest of the evening warming up a stranger’s coat with her behinds.

Friday, 2.25 am, Weemoed bar

A late night in a bar full of cigarette smoke. There are only few blurry contours of youngsters, bursting with laughter from time to time. Two of them, perhaps in their late teens, are sitting at the table. After sharing a cigarette they start kissing lazily, as if in slow motion. The girl withdraws her lips from the ones of the boy, and asks: “Why don’t we go to Barcelona? Like, right now.” The boy looks at her through tired, narrowed eyelids. He turns to a stranger at the same table, and asks his opinion. “Go! Go, for crying out loud!” the stranger cries out loudly. The fortuitous couple kisses and walks towards the door, tottering.

Friday, 3.30 am, outside

The street is almost empty. A few tired people are walking down the street, carelessly kicking empty bottles. Three young men are unlocking their bikes. One of them starts ringing his bike bell, playing a simple rhythm.  The other one joins with a different beat. After they get some attention from the passersby, the third one starts dancing to this bizarre bike-bell song. The sun appears on the horizon.