I'm spending my first weekend at Queen's Day, the yearly celebration of the Netherlands' monarch, Queen Beatrice. Sound stuffy? Come on, this is A'Dam, and Queen's Day is a neighborhood festival to the nth - a block party spread across the city's entire centrum - spanning cobblestones and canals alike. Imagine a party combining the Inman Park Spring Festival, Music Midtown, the Dogwood Festival and On the Bricks simultaneous to the invasion of a million fans attending a Tennessee vs. Clemson football game - as the Dutch royals are the family of Orange (the color in which everyone dresses).
I'm staying in the Oud Zud, Amsterdam's version of Virginia-Highland with tons of joggers and hair salons. It's a good home base to watch the celebration, especially the way it emerges and dies in one day. From the Friday night before to the wee hours of Sunday morning, the pubs throw open their windows and serve beer to the streets. The first night, swallowed by the crowd, I thought it was raining - then I realized everyone was just a lot taller than I was and was dripping beer on me as they danced to the DJs and cheesy cover bands.
Did I learn anything from Queen's Day that could perhaps serve some use for Atlanta's festivals? Well, I learned that if you offer state-sanctioned sex for a discount, nobody minds if the food prices hike up. I learned that a million stoned and drunk Europeans allowed to roam free are more peaceful than 75,000 Americans cooped in between fences. I learned that if you charge a refundable 1 euro deposit per plastic beer cup there's a lot less litter. I learned a lesson I already knew, which is that Asian food at a street bazaar is a bad idea. But not as bad as raw herring sandwiches topped with onions and pickles. I tell you all of this in hazy hindsight, because when beer is 2 euros and a Coke is 2.50 euros, well, I'd rather piss watery Heineken.
From Amsterdam, I traveled on to Madrid to check out where Hemingway ate and to enjoy a siesta after an afternoon crawl through the tabernas enjoying vinos y tapas. On the way home last night, a beautiful Spanish girl with a booty any Southern man could appreciate tried to coax me into a club blasting, of all things, Usher's "Yeah!" And on that note, I leave you until next week, when we'll be reporting from Barcelona, checking in and going clubbing with former CL staffer Jerry Portwood, and eating our drunk asses some churros, the Spanish version of Krispy Kreme.
-- Tony Ware
Meanwhile, back in Atlanta
Torrential downpours kept Chanté and I inside during the day on Saturday, but the stir-craziness took over by nighttime. Nighttime, it turns out, is the right time to get your shoes covered in nasty, red clay if you venture through East Atlanta. The Village is getting new sidewalks, but until then, the area between the curbs and entrances is an obstacle course of holes and mud, so don't wear shoes you love and definitely pass on the heels.
After a few hops, skips, and jumps around puddles, we made it safely into Eastside Lounge, where free drinks soothed our rainy day woes. Free? Yes, free and not because we happen to be cute girls. Since Fri., April 29, Eastside has been giving away drinks from 9:30-11 p.m. in a five-day celebration of its two-year anniversary. After all, the only thing better than cocktails are free cocktails, but that stops Thurs., May 5.
During the flowing libations and a screening of a Frederick's of Hollywood retrospective, DJ Marc Carnet warmed the tables up for Kieran with some lovely, mood-appropriate downtempo. A few people hit the dancefloor, but most seemed wrapped up in quiet conversation, including us, who pondered a late-night run to Krispy Kreme.
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