About the author: Salome Balderrabano
Salome Balderrabano, currently living in Delfshaven with her cat Manatee. In her final year of Arts & Culture Bachelor. Chairperson for the EXPO committee in 2018-2019. Enjoys and organises Dubstep parties in her free time. Favourite place in Rotterdam is Worm.
Hopeful and ready to fight for my rights
Afraid of being put away as a conspiracy theorist, my thoughts on the corona measures taken by the Dutch government usually remain exactly that: thoughts. I will not bore you with my opinions on them now, especially because I am not a health expert. However, I do consider myself a contributor to the club scene of Rotterdam and I want to express my grim suspicions regarding the current policies affecting the nightlife.
After seven months of missing the places I consider my home away from home and the people I regard as my second family. I reckon that in the case of the corona crisis the cure is worse than the disease. Measures taken have a fatal effect on people and society as a whole.
As you may be aware clubs will not re-open until there is a vaccine for the coronavirus. At this time bars and restaurants are closed until further notice. Alcohol and soft drugs are not available after 20 pm and other cultural venues such as theatres and museums have substantial restrictions regarding their capacity.
The Dutch phrase: ‘The time is five to twelve’, meaning that time is almost up, has been widely used for the situation that the cultural sector is in at the moment. Though I would say it is in fact ten past six in the morning and we have woken up in a dystopian reality. Four days ago, the Belgium DJ Jef Eagl posted a desperate cry on Instagram that went viral. In the post he explains that he has lost 31(!) people to suicide by this current crisis. Venues are closing, artists have been out of work for months and people generally are disconnecting. The IMS business report, which is published yearly, projects that global revenues for dance music will drop over 50% to 3.3 billion in 2020. A huge blow to the industry and the world economy.
Despite the despairing state of affairs we find ourselves in, we are all trying to cope. I, like many others, are trying out new interests and finding substitutes for the activities that we used to do. One of the ways I cope with it all is engaging myself in self-care. I recently moved to a new home and I have a bath now, so I like to spend alone-time bathing and relaxing. Earlier today I spent my time in the bath listening to a panel talk hosted by Operator radio and the organization N8W8. One of the panel members was ESHCC’s very own assistant professor Julian Schaap. The talk was initiated to debate the status of the nightlife in Rotterdam. It was an inspiring talk, you can listen to it here in Dutch. (https://youtu.be/NKW3g84uZoA)
N8W8 is an alternative spelling to Nachtwacht or Nights watch. It is Rembrandt’s most famous painting and the pride of the Rijksmuseum. The men portrayed on the painting are part of a militia, they keep the city safe. This is exactly what the organization and the people who take the nightlife’s cause to the heart, want: to protect the city, its freedom, to be the guardians of the night in the city of Rotterdam.
The club scene is often the neglected child of society, not taken seriously. Yet, I believe we should. In the night people find a safe space. Discotheques are a free place, where people can find and articulate themselves in a way they aren’t able to during the day. Marginalized groups meet their families here and offer each other a support system. That system has fallen away by locking people in their houses. Furthermore, the nightlife is a school of life and in principle an essential service, though not in the obvious way that a university might be. It is a necessity even so. Though society’s attention is more focused on getting you into the workforce than letting you self-express.
Music and dancing connect people. It allows people to come together, to grow closer. This is something we badly need in these times of polarization and the age of (mis)information.
During the panel talk, Julian Schaap pointed out that most musical genres begin as a form of rebellion. It is one of the first forms of art that youth comes into contact with and it makes them feel something. It helps them form their identities. It is crucial for people’s development and it is being taken away from them. The ‘intelligent’ lockdown the Dutch government is carrying out, is a lockdown directed at young people, directed at the arts and all things that make life worth living. While shopping, consuming and working is accepted and deemed essential.
Sometimes hope comes in the form of a lesser evil. Not our first choice, but the one we have to make to move forward. I believe this is the case with the options that lay before us. We can choose to keep ignoring all the distress signals or we can stand up and do whatever we can in our power to keep the night alive and adapt to the situation the best way we know how. The queer and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities have once again led the way into a possible better future. Their role in creating safer spaces in Rotterdam can be used as an example of how we can create a place suitable for people to experience the club scene without taking too great a risk with our health. We have also seen that throughout the entire sector people have been endlessly creative in finding ways to make dancing and appreciating music safe. It is time to collectively raise our voices and demand an acceptable response from those in power.
It is an unrecognized fact that the Beastie Boys wrote their famous song ‘Fight for your Right’ as a parody to the partying lifestyle. However, in this context of suppression of self-expression, I believe they would whole-heartedly agree when I say ‘You gotta fight for your right to party!’
Join the effort of keeping the nightlife alive.
October 30th bicycle rave protest through Rotterdam
Find the event here (https://www.facebook.com/events/2825956364395714)