Which is one of the primary reasons I write this blog; to entertain you and to remind myself of what I’ve done over the years… good and bad.
And this one was good. So fucking good.
This shit had been long on my radar and I’d wanted to go for a while. Plus, it was in Amsterdam; scene of some of my most (in)famous moments!
If you are a longtime reader/follower/acolyte of my stuff you’ll know that I have many Euro-friends, and I made some fantastic Belgium ones at my first Tomorrowland. It was their idea to do Awakenings, and Alicia and I didn’t need asking twice.
To be honest, here in England we were right in the middle of the Brexit fiasco, and my friends on Facebook were at each others throats. Embarrassingly so at times. I’d thrown myself into it at some extent, saying I wasn’t sure whether to vote LEAVE or STAY (I voted STAY in the end but could easily have gone LEAVE) but what shocked me most was how many of my friends suddenly became political experts and talked down to others who did not agree with them.
I was sick of it, so a timely jaunt to Amsterdam was exactly what the chemist ordered. I figured there I would escape anymore talk of Brexit.
I figured really fucking wrong.
Friday afternoon and we’re on a plane to Amsterdam where Koen (one of The Greatest Belgians Ever) picks us up, and soon we are at a holiday camp where we have rented a bungalow with the rest of the Belgian/Spanish Tomorrowland crew.
It’s fantastic to see them all, and to meet two new Belgians who we fast become good friends with. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again until I’m blue in the face; the people of Belgium might be the greatest people on earth.
Anyway, the first night’s festivities get me ruined, and a couple of us got very little sleep before we had to get up and get ready for day one of Awakenings.
And, of course, I had something special lined up.
The Tulip Suit. (‘Tulips From Amsterdam‘? No?)
I kept this shit quiet for months – not even telling Alicia – and when I emerged from the bedroom like a beautiful blue butterfly my friends laughed and my girlfriend said ‘what the fuck is that?’.
She was not buying it.
To be honest, I purely did it to make them all laugh, and had no thoughts about how it would be received by the other 70,000 (or however many) techno-heads out there in the fields of Amsterdam. And I didn’t consider how I would feel dressing up like a tin of Roses before them all.
I felt fucking awful.
The long walk to the festival from the bus wasn’t the problem, it was walking into the festival itself, when EVERYONE looked at me. This wasn’t Tomorrowland, where dozens upon dozens of people would dress up. This was Awakenings, where only I dressed up.
I’m not a shy man, and it takes A LOT to embarrass me, but I felt it right there, right then, stood in the softening mud of Awakenings, with everyone staring at the English prick in the fucking fancy dress. I wanted to go back to the bungalow and change.
Until one guy came up to me, hugged me and said how happy he was to not be the only colourful guy there. He was wearing a light blue Hawaiian shirt.
And then the weekend started.
The floodgates opened. Everyone wanted a photo with me, and it got to the point where walking between the different music stages became a chore. I couldn’t even sit down to take a rest, as people would flock to me like some retarded messiah. But they were all friendly. But they all wanted to talk about fucking Brexit.
“You guys are crazy to leave,” was the general consensus. I couldn’t help but apologise and remind them that I voted to stay in Europe. In fact, the day after Brexit I was in Europe talking to them! What more proof did they need of my commitment to the cause?
(I didn’t tell them that on the morning I voted I left the polling station because I could not make up my mind 100%’ only going back much later in the day to vote ‘stay’ because I thought it was the right thing to do. I’m still a little unsure of my decision now…)
So I left England hoping to not talk about Brexit, dressed in a fucking loud suit inviting everyone to talk to me, and when they discovered I was English all they wanted to talk about was Brexit.
This amused Tom The Belgian greatly. The dude smiles 90% of the time anyway, so it was like he was permanently grinning at me all weekend! But I didn’t mind. In fact, the sight of his ever-smiling face made my whole weekend.
Tom and I bumped into a lad from Newcastle. He was nice and pleasant and completely out of his tree. He asked how Tom and I knew each other and I said through Tomorrowland, and then he asked if we were best friends. The question took me by surprise, but Tom grinned (again), hugged me, and said “he’s my best English friend!” It was a small moment
in the midst of some great moments, but it was possibly my favourite moment of the weekend. Call it ‘trite’, but if it wasn’t for a chance meeting at a festival in Belgium three years ago Alicia and I wouldn’t have been at Awakenings, being looked after, and partying it up in Amsterdam with some ‘foreigners’ who took it upon themselves to adopt us, and ignore their original perceptions of all English being pigs.
Which most of us/you are. The lad from Newcastle said the same thing as me about the euro-festival scene; we go abroad because we always seem to find trouble at English festivals. Cast your mind back to my SW4 blog where I was innocently talking to my friend, only for security to come and grab me, accusing me of dealing heroin. And then there are the continual fights and idiots I seem to encounter back home.
Heck, maybe this says more about me than my fellow countrymen! But ask any European, and they will tell you that their hometown – wherever it is – dreads the thought of the English turning up.
I have to add that many, many of us are actually alright, and it’s the small(/actually quite large) minority of our countrymen who fuck things up for us. You can almost compare that ‘statistic’ with people’s misconception of Islam.
Yep, I just compared Islamic extremists with English idiots abroad. Deal with it. It’s my blog and I’ll write what the fuck I want. In fact, this might be a good time to say that I’m
going in a slightly different direction from now on, as everything I write is now primarily going to be for me to look back on one day, for when I’m sat in a nursing home flirting with the young nurses as they change my shitty pants, desperately trying to prove to them that I was once cool. It’s also going to act as a diary for me, so I can look back on my life some day, and realise what a tool I really was.
But I really fucking digress. Let’s return to me stood in a field, dressed in a tulip suit, with everyone trying to talk to me while I’m flying like a kite. The good thing about euro drugs is that they are clean and powerful, even if they did take a little while to get going this weekend. What’s it like? Imagine being suspended a few inches from the ground, thrown forward at great speed, and smashing into a wall made of feathers, and then you keep the feeling of that impact for the next few hours. It’s kinda like that. But better.
Am I glamourising it? Nope. Just telling you what it feels like. I don’t advocate that anyone takes them, and you should leave this shit to the professionals. It’s taken me years and years of training to reach the top of my tree. If they were dishing out medals I would be the Roger Nadal of this shit.
And it was while I was metaphorically shining one of my gold medals that the biggest, blackest man at Awakenings approached me. He extended his hand for me to shake, and I did so because I didn’t want to get hurt.
“Balls, man,” he said, and I nodded dumbly.
“Balls…” He said,
“Balls…” He said.
I nodded again, but now I was a little concerned.
He licked his lips to speak, both of us dancing with our hands entwined. Looking back, the big black man shaking the skinny white dudes hand probably looked like we were cell mates in some prison somewhere, striking a deal over something. Probably sexual.
“You got big fucking balls man,” he said in a heavy American drawl as I tried to find the eyes behind his shades.
“Thank you,” was all I had as he released my hand and disappeared into the crowd.
And it was kinda like that for much of the day; people trying to talk to me while I was aeroplaned. The suit was for a laugh, and then caused me fear, and then much, much happiness and amusement, but now it was a hinderance as I tried to navigate my way through tens of thousands of people. Tomorrow I would go as a plain clothes idiot, instead
of a tulip-suited one.
I can’t remember the first stage/DJ we saw, but the second was Marcel Dettman who saw our weekend in musically with a tour de force. He came in with fucking bells on. Also, at Dettman, were my good friends Ton (not to be confused with Tom), Claire, Frank, and Ehran; two friends from back home and two from Holland.
I have to sidestep to say that I had arranged to meet up with many friends that weekend, but somewhere around an hour before Dettman I’d lost all sense and motor skills. I could barely read texts on my phone, and I was too busy dancing with my face up to the sun, that I subconsciously told myself I doubted if I would get to see them all.
I was wrong. It all worked out perfectly.
The first people we managed to meet were Miss Pookie and Ramon. Pookie has been my friend for a few years now. We met through her music as well as our writing. She’s tiny and pure and beautiful, while Ramon is tall and big and has a demeanour you could mistake for angry until you unscrew his top and let his passion for music to flow out. Complete opposites, yet a perfectly matched couple. These guys found us at the main stage although I can’t remember who we watched… Vath? The next duo we found were Ton and Claire
(of my previous blog posts). Claire is wonderful and kind, and has nursed me throw many a messy one, while Ton is just fucking angry at the world until I sex him up and the music gets good. In fact, he loves me so much he made a fantastic track for me. Colour me proud.
Frank and Egran are next; the Dynamic Dutch Duo. Wherever these boys go I seem to get fucked up. I haven’t figured out the connection between them and it yet…
So I got to see all my friends and it made my weekend spectacular. We danced and drank and partied, and Pookie raised her eyebrow in amusement every time someone came to talk to me about my suit. We bounced from Dettman to (and I know I have this in the wrong order, but we’re just lucky I could remember my name at this point) Maceo Plex, to Sven Vath, to Dave Clarke (I think), to Len Faki. I think Ben Klock and Nina Kraviz were also in there somewhere. I do love me some NK. Shame I can’t remember much about her!
As the first day wound down we got ready to go, and – as we left – I found half a pill in my pocket so I threw it down my throat and thought it’s the end of the day, what’s the worst that could happen?
Well, I could end up getting on a bus without Alicia, and not realising until we were halfway back to camp, before being half-carried home, only to collapse on the bungalow floor and hug that shit for like a half hour.
It was great.
My new German/Belgian friend Gunter was only there for that day, so I thought I’d go and say goodbye/goodnight to him before he left, in case I missed him in the morning.
Unfortunately, I went into the wrong bedroom.
And in the wrong bungalow.
The only thing that saved me from Most Embarrassing Moment of the Weekend was Gunter being so wrecked he woke up naked in bed next to Tom. THAT was the real highlight of the three days!
I woke up early on Day Two from my sleep/coma feeling completely refreshed and ready to go. Kind of. But I had a reason… Agoria. A French DJ/producer who I was as excited about seeing at Awakenings as I was about seeing Marco Farone at Tomorrowland two years back. The guy is a master, and I wasn’t going to miss him. Plus, both of us turned 40 this year so I figured me being there was a great present for us both!
Everyone was either asleep or nowhere near getting ready so I hit the bus alone, walked to the site alone, got through the gates alone, dropped a knuckle duster alone, and strolled into the Joris Voorn stage where Michel de Hey was back-to-back with Ici Sans Merci. I’d never heard of them but they were pretty good and got the crowd nicely warmed up.
Without the tulip suit I was anonymous in a sea of people, and no one talked to me about Brexit! So I grabbed a vodka, dancing off to one side, waiting for Agoria. And he did not disappoint when he played. The French maestro dropped soul and hip hop cuts into his techno, and his set was a thing of beauty. I was happy and blissful on my own, dancing
with my French friend.
At the end of this blog I will post the Be-at TV video of his whole set. I’m in it. You can play ‘Where’s Jody’.
Alicia and my friends arrived soon and it was back to business; partying and dancing and drinking and laughing.
We used the day well, catching up with sets from (my old favourite) Alan Fitzpatrick, a little Maya Jane Coles, and Maceo Plex (who I love yet seems to get blasted in a couple of the techno groups I’m in on Facebook). Plex also dropped ‘Born Slippy’ on us and it almost blew the roof off the tent. Tom and I sang drunkenly along with every word. We missed Jeff Mills which I didn’t realise until after the fact and was pretty gutted about, and I think we saw a little of Rodhad who was fucking exceptional at Tomorrowland last year. I missed Dominik Eulberg, much to my dismay… but Sunday was taking a toll on us, and Alicia and I resorted to sitting outside of Len Faki’s stage which the others took him in. My feet were killing. I think the heavy day previously had worn me down, and we had to leave an hour before the end. Someone did remind me that I’d arrived almost two hours before everyone else, so I had a decent excuse!
As I write this, the Belgians have just finished a weekend in Tomorrowland, which Alicia and I were gutted about missing, but Awakenings more than made up for it. I preferred the music of the Amsterdam festival over the Belgian one – just – but Tomorrowland definitely had a slightly lighter and happier vibe about it. But then, I did my best to cheer up the Europeans at Awakenings by being the only idiot dressed in a tulip suit.
“Will you wear it next year,” Tom and Koen asked me.
I guess we’ll have to wait and see.