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Guerrilla marketing 3 November 2013

Posted by cooperatoby in Amsterdam, beer.
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Last night saw my third stint as guest barman at Castrum Peregrini, an arts-based ‘intellectual playground’ in Amsterdam’s city centre, during Museumnacht, when the cream of Amsterdam’s museums stay open till 2 a.m. During World War II, Castrum was a hiding place for German refugee artists, and in 2011 won the prize for the best exhibit (Truus is on its programme advisory group). This year, the show featured the Atelier Revolutionair, which explored the role artists are playing in struggling for justice, diversity and social inclusion worldwide. There was an exhibition called Speaking from the Heart curated by Shaheen Merali – and an Iranian disco.

Toby manning the barIn a throwback to my Ale House days, I made it my mission to subvert the tenacious and irrational belief among Dutch people that Heineken is a good beer by wearing my IJbrouwerij t-shirt. This subtle bit of guerrilla marketing resulted in at least one customer’s hopes being raised that something decent to drink would be on offer – but they were cruelly dashed. I could tell he was a man of principle as he preferred to drink nothing rather than Heineken.

We looked enviously across the Herengracht at the trip boats disgorging into a permanent queue outside NIOD, the National Institute for War Documentation, whose first foray into Museumnacht it was. Nevertheless we did a decent turnover purveying not only wine, ‘beer’, tea and coffee, but also delicious home-made pumpkin soup – served straight out of a picturesque giant pumpkin (shame I didn’t have my camera with me) – and that unwieldy Dutch staple, the rookworst. There’s nothing like a rookworst to pick you up after an exhausting night of museum-going.

I’m hoping and praying that when Museumnacht comes round next year, Castrum Peregrini will become a unique haven of hoppy tasty ale.

Dogtroep swansong 22 March 2013

Posted by cooperatoby in Amsterdam, Uncategorized.
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ImageOn 25 September 2008 we went with Roos & Michiel to ‘Tobetonotbe’, the final spectacle of ‘Dogtroop’[1] which billed itself as theatre but was more like I imagine the Cirque du Soleil would be – i.e. anarchic like Amsterdam used to pride itself on being. The show took place in the Mebin ready-mixed concrete depot on the dock in Nord. The cast and half the audience arrived by old IJ ferry no. 21 along with assorted strange roaring and flaming vehicles – a tractor with flaming smokestack, even an old Morris Minor. After that numerous strange and unhealth-and-safety-like things happened around the place. A battered red Escort was driven back and forth at high speed, and eventually disappeared inside a freight container – and magically drove out again (in fact it veered off to the left – as one could see from the brake lights – through the non-existent rear wall, and it was a different red Escort that drove out, of course). A woman disappeared inside a cement mixer that looked much too small for her, then performed a kind of belly dance as it rotated. Another woman kept losing her leg down an invisible hole in the ground. A couple ‘danced’ somehow like spiders across a wall, hanging onto almost-invisible metal rods cast into the concrete. Meanwhile a man with a moped-mounted epidiascope projected a much-enlarged microscope slide of some wriggling many-legged bugs onto the wall, so it looked as if the couple were specimens under the microscope. Eventually, they reached the right-hand end of the wall and the man covered the woman in a simulated act of coition, before she escaped over the top of the wall into the pyramid of gravel, leaving the man with just her leg. A noseless wingless aeroplane was assembled and then took off (lifted by the dockside crane) and flew away. A woman climbed endlessly up and down an endless spiral staircase (very clever geometry as it was two helices inside each other, one going up and one going down).

There were explosions of escalating size, signalled by the two pyrotechnicians shaking hands in self-congratulation: first a pop bottle, then a plastic oil drum popping up in the air – and for their finale they shook hands on top of the giant cement silo – but it didn’t explode! However there was a mighty whoomph, a hot blast and cloud of smoke centre stage at the end of the performance. Back across the concrete wall a man painted a wiggly line with nothing other than a flamethrower – terrifying. A raggedy band marched around in Sgt Pepper-style uniforms with much gold braid and fur shakos.

Afterwards there was abdijbier and jamming in the beer tent and an espresso machine mounted on a motor trike and powered by an oxy-acetylene torch. To produce a cup the operator would blast the flame at a little boiling chamber plumbed with three pipes.

They have wound up and this was their swansong and very memorable too. Archetypical Amsterdam.


[1] obituary here http://www.dogtroep.nl/eng/index3.html

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