Just five days after watching the Pride event here in Amsterdam, I spent last night at an entirely different sort of Parade - the succinctly named "Parade".

Parade is a pretty unique event that is held annually in Holland's four largest cities - Rotterdam, Den Haag, Utrecht and Amsterdam. It is a collection of temporary restaurants and bars all centered around small performances (mainly short plays) held in tents by amateurs and professionals.

There is also a silent disco - where a DJ spins tunes and everyone wears special headphones, so while they boogie and occasionally let out a big "whooo", the observers on the outside hear nothing and basically watch a bunch of temporarily insane people get down. It's hilarious to watch.

The whole event is the embodiment of the Dutch word gezellig (note to non-Dutch speakers - you will injure yourself if you try to pronounce it). Essentially, "cozy" is a close translation but also somewhat lame-sounding - as with so many foreign words there is no direct meaning in another tongue.

Sitting in Martin Luther King Park, with the Amstel river snaking past, it is an annual favourite of many Amsterdammers who come to see and be seen, drink and be drunk (and many sheepishly admit to not even checking out any performances - and with all the fun outside, it's tough to blame them). I will add to the sheepishness - although there are still 10 days left to check out a show or two. It runs for two weeks every August.

The gezellig part has to do with the arrangement of all the tents, temporary cafes, and communal picnic tables nestled in the trees, enclosed around you like a big neighborhood.

And in a YouTube, Twitter, and home theatre world, it's also nice to be occasionally entertained in analogue mode instead of digitally.

The list of performances

The performers do small bits outside to entice people to come in for their show
(This one? Not so enticing)

Going to the bathroom for a good cause



Amsterdam has long been known as a gay-friendly city (it used to hold the unofficial title of Europe's Gay Capital). With mostly excellent tolerance, progressive thinking and a mayor named Eberhard and a deputy mayor named Asscher (yes, sometimes this stuff writes itself) it is a perfect place for a boisterous and booming Pride Parade.

It was a great day, albeit pretty rainy. Float after float drifted by on the canals, with mostly booming techno music (although some classical music and Dutch folk lietjes also drifted past) and the gay, lesbian, tranny, and impossible-to-label categories all in fine form.

It was an all-inclusive event. Tons of families, older folks and everyone in-between were lining the bridges and the very happy crowd lining the Prinsengracht (more like the Princessgracht, in many cases) canal.

The Netherlands, as I've seen time and again at big events, is for the most part incredibly inclusive (politics aside) for spectators and participants alike. In particular for the Amsterdam Pride Parade, you see company-sponsored floats celebrating gay employees for banks, electronics multinationals, and even the police force.

It was a very similar feel to the Queen's Day celebrations held in April - basically hours and hours of dancing on the boats and in the streets, with everyone completely positive and upbeat.

As a breeder, one has to tread delicately when writing about this stuff. On the one hand, you want to be culturally sensitive, especially when discussing a minority whose experiences and challenges are well outside your level of knowledge.

On the other hand, providing mainstream acceptance also means you should be able to poke fun at the subject just like anything else when the situation calls for it (like say, Mel Gibson, or hipsters).

So without further ado, some images from Saturday, August 7th in Amsterdam. It was another very fine day.



Amsterdam city float, with mayor Eberhard van der Laan in the foreground

I'm having nightmares...

...and I suspect more are forthcoming

Le freak, c'est sheik

A moment of reflection... "Too subtle?"

"We have no idea either! But yay parades!"

The police force float

Check out that guy's hat!