My husband loves electronic dance music. The thumping beats, the unrelenting rhythm of the tempo, the way the music moves through your body almost to your core to the cadence of your heartbeat.
Me? I can’t stand it. It nauseates me. It feels like the bump of a headache. But when we had the opportunity to attend a music festival in Amsterdam, with behind-the-scenes passes and meet-and-greets with some of the performers, my husband jumped on it, for the two of us.
For myself, I looked at it as a sneaky way to explore Amsterdam again, to trace the paths of the canals, drink beer, eat French fries dipped in mayonnaise (when in Holland, do as the Dutch) and visit some of my favorite museums. The festival couldn’t possibly take that much time, or be that bad, could it?
It could. And it was.
Sensation White in Amsterdam claims itself to be the “World’s Leading Dance Event” and attendees are supposed to wear all white in a celebration of unity. Other than that, I didn’t know what to expect. Most of the performers on the handbill were complete mysteries to me, and there seemed to be dozens of performers. I was puzzled.
Around 11am on the day of Sensation, we hopped on a tram and took it to the train, connected to another tram and arrived at the Amsterdam Arena in time for our behind-the-scenes tour. The tour itself was awkward, walking around the empty stadium, watching dancers prepare for the night’s festivities, being shown sky-boxes and VIP rooms that we wouldn’t actually be welcome to enjoy. Seeing an event like that in daylight is always a little depressing, like seeing any nightclub by the light of day. The mystery gone, the atmosphere ruined.
That night, we hopped the same trams and trains and headed back to the arena. There were 100-foot-tall statues of naked women swinging from the rafters, lines out of the doors of the ladies’ restroom in some kind of nightmare of planning, and drinks were 15 euros each. Everyone was wearing white, and while the effect was striking, it did make relocating my husband nigh impossible. The music was impossibly loud, the sound waves leaving a palpable impression on my skin, and I was left with a feeling that I had not known prior; listening to music could actually be exhausting.
Conversation was impossible. A girl in line for the ladies’ room informed me that the show, which had begun at 10pm, wouldn’t end until 6am. Excuse me?
I soon realized that this was possible, because my husband and I seemed to be the only ones attending who hadn’t “supplemented” our evening with something illegal or otherwise that would sustain our interest in EDM for eight long hours.
This was not my scene. I did meet a lot of interesting women in the restroom line, women and young ladies from all over the world who had gathered at Sensation for that same as-advertised unity and harmony. Some were lawyers, others were students, accountants, stylists, a nurse and a teacher, all brought together from everywhere for this. It was kind of beautiful, or, it would have been had the music not been bruising my ears.
It was a sea of white behind us at about 2am when I decided I finally had enough. I reminded my husband that there was probably somewhere nearby that sold fries and mayonnaise and this proved to be even more alluring than a night of electronic dance music.
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