Four years ago, late July, my first summer in Amsterdam. A friend of mine texted me so that I would join her at a party that was going on at Noorderlicht. ‘You HAVE TO come’, she said. It was around 19.00 when I arrived. The sun was glowing.
First thing I noticed is how original people were dressed and how free their movements seemed to be. There were also children playing around and the scenario was breathtaking. A mix of water, sand, fire, peculiar costumes and great amounts of colour. Next thing I noticed was the music. There didn’t seem to be a coherent line-up but somehow all that diversity made perfect sense. There was a country band performing and then some African rhythms and then a group of girls singing virtuously and then DJs whose music style I didn’t seem to be able to immediately recognize. People were dancing as if they couldn’t be seen: the third thing I notice, perhaps the one that most made an impression on me. I danced too, in a thrill. I danced so much that, in the end, I realized I had forgotten to go get drinks the entire evening. I wanted to hear everything, see everything, feel everything. I danced alone, and with my eyes closed, and with friends, and with strangers. People smiled at each other all the time. I remember asking at a certain point, dazzled: ‘what is this?, does somebody know what this is?, what sort of party is this?’. Baby Burn, they told me.
‘Baby Burn, what is that?’
I would learn soon after that the now famous Burning Man Festival inspired this celebration, an artistic festival for makers and utopists, where there is no public, just participants, where people should bring something to share with others and in which the biggest requisite is that you leave no trace of yourself after you leave. This year I managed to go back to Baby Burn, Amsterdam, which was organized by Noorderlicht in collaboration with the traveling theater group, The Ship of Fools. It was a free event, which is remarkable in a city where almost everything is commercialized. I was afraid my high expectations could ruin my experience since I was basically telling all my friends how the Baby Burn 2012 had been the best party I’d ever experienced in Amsterdam. It was definitely busier this year (especially the early afternoon because of visitors of the Ij-Halen flea market that was taking place ‘next door’) but from around 18.00 the burn-spirit took over the place. We hula-hooped, tried Acro-Yoga, let our bodies get acquarella colored, swam in the IJ and of course danced, danced, danced.
I honestly can’t label this experience for the sake of making it more understandable. What I can say is that this is a place where you have the feeling everything is possible.