Sunday, September 24, 2006

Den Haag is not such a drag

Den Haag
Originally uploaded by Tommy Bruggink.
I had a firm opinion on it. I was convinced that it is the most boring place in the Netherlands. I made jokes about it. But I must admit that I was at least partly mistaken. I am talking about The Hague, Den Haag in the local language.

The first thing I remember of Den Haag is the reminder on geography class that the Dutch government is not in Amsterdam but somewhere else. So in a sense Den Haag was like Washington or Canberra. During my studies Den Haag popped up every now and then when we spoke about war crimes. These things combined do not really work as instruments for attacting mass tourism (apart from my Balkan friends who went to see the Milosevic case with their parents).

But aft
er yesterday I must say that more cities could be like Den Haag.

We walked around the city centre yesterday with an English friend of mine. The old centre looks like a polished version of Amsterdam. And during the Todaysart festival I was quite impressed how the local municipality allowed the festival organisers to use the City Hall (pic) for a performance. I mean how often have you seen light and sound installations, young and trendy people drinking wine and beer and party smoke spreading around the lobby of the city hall? The music was loud, we were sipping wine and lying on the floor watching students from the Royal Conservatory perform when suddenly we realised that we were surrounded by smoke. It was a funny feeling. Like airplanes in the clouds, we saw heads popping out of the fluffy mist. Cool.

Todaysart proved something else as well. When you treat people as responsible adults, they also behave so. I have seldom seen as casual and relaxed festival crowd.

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