Nuit De La Fete and Partying Like It’s 1929
There aren’t many chances to get dressed up and be all fancy when you’re a graduate student in Maastricht, which is sad for me, because I secretly love the whole process.
So when Caroline, who was doing her internship at VIA2018, told me she had a spare ticket for Nuit de la Fete, a celebration of 350 years since Maastricht’s public library’s foundation and 100 years since the establishment of the Natural History Museum, I was very glad I had dragged my favorite pair of heels all the way from Beirut.
Lesson time: you should always have a pair of heels and a dress lying around, you never know when you’ll need them.
The three of us, as James also joined in for the fun, speculated that we were probably the youngest attendees, but that did not stop us from enjoying the evening, and what an evening it was.
Arriving on time, something I will never really get used to, we were welcomed by two stilt walkers handing out roses to the female party-goers. Why they needed stilt walkers when the Dutch are already the tallest people in the world still baffles me till this day.
Centre Ceramique, or the public library, was wonderfully transformed for the celebration, with a stage and a dance area as there would be entertainment acts and a DJ throughout the evening. At that point, I wondered if people would actually get up and dance, because as I was once told, parties here are often of the talk kind, rather than dance.
It’s an interesting concept to have a party in a library though, and it seemed to fit really well, maybe because it was happening in the big entrance hall and it wasn’t a seated event, but rather had small tables where you could put your drinks, and also some steps where you could sit down and relax, taking all the atmosphere in.
The celebrations kicked off with an acrobat climbing a chandelier which was then hoisted into the air, all so she could serve champagne upside down. Cool gimmick that got everyone’s attention instantly while those who wanted to witness a book signing event at the library’s coffee house annex headed right there.
We decided to stay in the main area, listening to some music, and just enjoying the ambiance. That is until they brought on the first act, whose name I really can’t remember. She was announced to be as someone very talented, but James and I both agreed that her backing band was much better and she was just wailing through each and every act.
Fortunately for us, finger food was being served on the platform overlooking the stage, so we headed there to enjoy some combinations of bread, cheese, seafood, and ham.
It was also where there was a long-standing exhibit of ceramics, as Maastricht used to be very important for its production, so that was a good insight into the history of this area.
After she finished, the DJ kicked in, playing more of a jazz and disco oriented set-list which I absolutely adore, especially considering how much I think of Dutch techno as not being anything close to music that I can imagine dancing to. The change was more than welcome.
The music then stopped because it was time for the highlight of the evening, Sven Hammond Soul. While I haven’t been able to find much information on them, I do know that I love them and have been listening to their work since then. The 8 piece band kept everyone up on their feet with a mix of instrumental pieces and songs with two powerhouse vocalists. If you love or at least appreciate jazz, Youtube or Spotify have no shortage of their work and I definitely recommend them!
It was hard to resist just how talented everyone on that stage were, and the rest of the attendees seemed to agree, twisting and turning and kicking up their heels. It was a beautiful sight, and I was having a great time dancing with two people who had come to play significant roles during my time here.
The whole thing would have been even better if my feet were conditioned to tolerate all the heavy dance action in those heels that I was wearing, but you can’t have it all. But yes, I was almost limping from the library to the car when we left- a reminder that I might have taken it too far with the dancing. I’m happy to report that since then I’ve done a full recovery.
Overall, it was a great night, with a wonderful opportunity to be at an event more of my liking with people I absolutely adore, discovering wonderful music and remembering that everyone deserves a bit of fun every once in a while.