Tag Archives: Dutch Life

An English Girl’s Review of HardBass 2016

I’m not going to pretend I’m a huge fan of hardstyle music, I wouldn’t choose to listen to it in my car or chill out to it in the evening. However, what I do love about hardstyle music is the feeling it creates, the passion that hardstyle fans have for the music and the amazing feelings that buzz around hardstyle parties.

Gino and his friends are HUGE hardstyle fans, which I’m sure goes some way into making me enjoy the parties so much. I would say I am still a hardstyle novice, having only gone to a few in the last 10 months, and my dancing still needs a great deal of improvement, but I will get to that later.

The Event


Last weekend we went to Hardbass 2016, an indoor festival in Arnhem, about an hour from den Bosch. I have been to the venue before, and its always nice to know where the toilets are located without having to go on a search! We got the train from den Bosch to the venue, which gave us just enough time for a few drinks on the train with the other several hundred people also heading to the party.

The party was organised by B2S, that arrange some of the biggest parties on the hardstyle calendar, so I always knew it would be well organised. Somehow the Dutch can easily, without fuss get 30,000 people in and out of a venue with a flair that the English just can’t master. I have lost count of how many times I have had to queue for three hours to get out of a venue after a gig in the UK…. but the Dutch are way too efficient for that.

The Music

The music was divided into four sections, for four different teams. The teams were made up of different well known DJs who would collaborate together, with the likes of Detox, Delete, Warface and Wildstylez on the bill. As with all parties the music started off quite Euphoric, with some songs that even I knew the words to, and then got harder as the night went on. Finishing at the end with a more Raw style.

Even with my novice ears, I can say the music was amazing, with plenty of Gino’s favourite “kick-rolls”. Also a huge shout out to the saxophone solo in the Bass Modulators and Noisecontrollers set for Solo…. AMAZING!

The Stage


The stage and theme is always part of these parties I find amazing, the designers obviously spend the whole year designing the concept and different moving parts. HardBass was one of the least impressive of the parties I have been to, but none the less there was obviously alt of creativity that went into the military theme.

The Dancing

As I mentioned earlier I would not call myself a good dancer…. in fact I don’t think I would even call myself a dancer. I like to throw shapes like the best of them, but managing to do this in time with the music, to the right beat… that’s something different.

Dancing to hardstyle is a skill, a skill that I am yet to master and I’m not holding out hope that I will master it either. But thankfully Gino’s friends don’t seem to mind, and are happy for me to be bobbing along to my own beat whilst they are all dancing enthusiastically the hardstyle way.

Overall Experience


Once again I was amazed by another hardstyle party and Hardbass 2016 certainly delivered. I must also give credit to the group of people that continued to put a smile on my face or scooped me up on their shoulders (probably to stop me from dancing) through the eight hour event.

So when’s the next one….?

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Surviving Carnaval

Two weeks after I arrived in the Netherlands was Carnaval. Now being English this was a new phenomenon to me, but Gino has been talking about Carnaval week ever since I’ve known him, so there was definitely excitement to find out what all the fuss was about.

When I was first told about Carnaval two thoughts popped in to my head, firstly the seaside summer celebrations my grandparents used to take me to in Norfolk, where we would spend hours waiting for a 20 minute parade put together by the local scout and guide groups. Secondly was Mardi-Gras. Neither of which can be compared to what I now know to be the Dutch Carnaval.


Saturday night never looked so glamorous!

Let’s start with the outfit, every city or district has their own mascot, in Den Bosch it’s a frog, you must think “what?” but yes frogs. More importantly, lots of frogs which were sewn onto a blazer. This is then topped off by the colours of the local town or city you are celebrating Carnaval in. We planned to go to Den Bosch, which was renamed Oeteldonk (HUH?) for the celebrations, and therefore our colours were red, white and yellow. I went for a scarf, gloves and leg warmers, it was February after all!

Outfit 2

Now Carnaval officially starts on the Sunday and goes until Tuesday, but in true Dutch fashion this has been extended from Thursday to Wednesday. We chose to just concentrate on Saturday to Monday, for three reasons; firstly I think Gino wanted to ease me into my first Carnaval slowly, secondly we didn’t want to spend our live savings on beer, and thirdly my liver wouldn’t be able to cope with that level of drinking.

So on the Saturday night instead of putting on a dress and heels I put on my Carnaval colours and caught the bus into Den Bosch with Gino. I was delighted to see that everyone on the bus was also emblazoned with frogs and bright colours and rather than standing out, I faded into everyone around me. Hooray, finally I was becoming a Dutchy!

When we arrived into Den Bosch I can only describe it as a sea of people, more like a Spanish party town in the height of summer rather than a quiet Dutch city. However it wasn’t just 18 to 30s that lined the streets, people of all ages were not only covered in frogs like me, but also dressed in crazy fancy dress.


We drank at a bar called Paternoster, which was in the main square in the city. As we walked in I was overwhelmed by the amount of people, we pushed our way to the back where Gino’s friends were drinking. The music was loud, but not just the usual music you hear in a bar on a Saturday night, instead “Wooompahpah Wooompahpah” music played, with some kind of Dutch over the top. I understood one song to be the Children’s classic “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”! My first reaction was “what the hell have I got myself into”, quickly followed by “get me a beer now”, but after three or four drinks I found myself bobbing along to the “Woompahpahs” quite happily.

Day two started much earlier, after a full English breakfast we headed into Den Bosch to watch the unveiling of the puppet. Now this is the part I don’t understand, a giant puppet is set up in the centre of the city covered by a cloth, at 3pm on Sunday Carnaval is officially started by removing the cloth from the puppet. Yes I think it is as crazy as it sounds! After the puppet unveiling we headed back to Paternoster where more beers were drunk, and I spent about a quarter of the time in the queue for the ladies. I hate to admit it, but I was quite enjoying this weird celebration by this point!

PuppetMonday, and the final day for us but the day I was looking forward to most, parade day! I grew up in Disney and so was used to the Parades of Disneyland with princesses and my favourite Disney character, expectations were high! We headed to Jeroen and Celesta’s, who live on the parade route; therefore we could keep warm and drink beer in the comfort of their living room. Despite my high expectations I was not disappointed, the parade was an amazing mix of floats that the people of Den Bosch had obviously been working all year on, and when the parade was held up the brass bands would continue the whoompah whoompah music to keep the crowds entertained.

Parade 4After three days of Carnaval, to say I was exhausted was an understatement; I can see what Gino means when he says he gets tired translating from English all the time. Gino’s friends were amazing, and welcomed me into the group like I was meant to be there. There was always someone who took pity on me when I looked slightly confused during the weekend and would explain what was happening and why, as well as someone to always come and help me dance to the weird music that everyone seemed to know all the words to!

Parade day Drinking 2

Lots of beer was consumed!

Even though Carnaval was overwhelming at first, I can honestly say I am excited for next year, when hopefully I can sign along to the Whoompa-ing, finally understand the puppet tradition and my liver will hopefully be recovered. Here’s to Carnaval 2016!

Parade day Drinking 3Saturday NightLeroy

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An Alternative Guide to the Netherlands

There’s been so many people that have asked why I chose to move to the Netherlands rather than taking the easy option of Gino moving to England. There are two different reasons; firstly, I don’t like taking the easy option… ever! And secondly, the Netherlands is AMAZING!

Let me just explain to you why in my alternative guide to the Netherlands:

  • The food – I love fries, the Dutch LOVE fries.
    I love bread, the Dutch have the most incredible bread, it’s a match made in heaven! Don’t even start me on the cheese…oh boy the cheese… and meat!
  • Honesty – if you have ever had the pleasure to have a Dutch friend, relative or partner, you will understand just how honestthe Dutch are. At first it’s a little disconcerting, especially for us English who tend to shy away from pointing out that massive lump of spinach you’ve had in your teeth for two hours, or that huge spot on your head that you have tried to cover up with more make up than Max Factor. But soon you learn to revel in their honesty!kings day
  • Celebrations – the Dutch love to celebrate, whether its Kings Day in April or Carnaval in February, any excuse to get dressed up in orange or sew frogs to your jacket (post on this topic coming soon) and the Dutch will make the most of the opportunity.
  • And this leads to parties – in England having a house party was something I did when I was 15 when my parents left me alone for the weekend, and I prayed that nothing would get broken. In the Netherlands it seems like every weekend there is someone throwing a party. Old or young everyone gets together, usually at someone’s house, to drink copious amounts of alcohol and eat snacks (see next point).
  • Snacks – this point automatically makes me think of a bag of crisps or a chocolate bar…. Oh no the Dutch take their snacks much more seriously! If you ask a Dutchy for a snack they will happily prepare for you chicken satay or fried snacks such as bitterballen, kroketten or frikandellen.
  • Which leads me on to frikandellen – think sausage, but with more spices, and nicer…..much nicer!bikes
  • Bikes – the Netherlands is flat, therefore everyone cycles. The infrastructure is set up for it with cycle routes into and around every town and city, there are 18 million bikes in the Netherlands, meaning there is more than one bike for each person in the country.
  • Height – as a 5ft 8 inch girl it was hard to find a man in the UK that I didn’t tower above when I wore heels. The Dutch are the tallest race on the planet, meaning when I’m in a room full of people in heels I’m probably one of the shortest.
  • Footwear – the Dutch have incredible taste in footwear, despite being tall they take their footwear fashion very seriously. Next time you’re with a Dutch person look down at their feet, I guarantee you wont be disappointed.

… and I haven’t even talked about windmills, tulips or clogs! This list could go on for a while…!

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