Discover Eindhoven, The Netherlands in this catalogue of creative happenings

Zimmer Frei or Fiesta del Sol … which country is Eindhoven in?

July 10th, 2010


Why is it interesting that a significant Dutch village in the south of Holland should have two very different festivals with foreign names take place over the one weekend? What do these events say about the self-image of this post-industrial town? Why does this big village have to borrow holiday references to give itself credibility? Where is Eindhoven really; who is it? Where does the real character of Eindhoven “happen” and who makes it happen?

This weekend, one event is offered to the non-discerning masses; pre-fab entertainment that attracts a type who leave the debris of drained plastic beer cups at the feet of tired banners garishly decorated with an 80s inspired cartoon salsa duo, and the words Fiesta del Sol – 30 years! Such patrons wear no shame joining in with the band’s drunken platitude of “Hallelujah” in full voice, arms thrown askew over the shoulders of their fellow The Little One Bar-fly. It’s odd – what is Eindhoven missing, after all, than the glamour and exoticism of … Brazil? It is a non sequitur and worse, it’s not believable. Brazil has no place in Eindhoven.

The other event is for people who want local live music, good food from people who care about making it, truly melon flavoured soft drink for grownups (really, try the melon, I couldn’t believe my taste buds) and brushing shoulders with kindred spirits; this festival is for people who have the sense of irony to give a nod to the holiday season by calling it Zimmer Frei! (that is, vacant room, in German), a reference to the number of teutonic neighbours who regularly tumble into the lowlands during the summer. And if you’re like me, Zimmer Frei! gives you a chance to have a chin-wag with some new friends (some from Zimbabwe, one from Eindhoven, another a German living in Eindhoven, so that was fitting). These guys will be happy to tell you that they feel that more of ZimmerFrei! is needed and less of Siesta del Sol (snoooooze!) in this city. More authenticity, less blind faith. More connection with citizens who don’t cringe from the greyness and hybridity of this not-immediately attractive city and yearn for the benign allure of an imagined South America; more about creating renewed life within the shell of abandoned factory buildings, such as the Schellens Fabriek (a former textile factory) and talking about how much they want this city to be truly as dynamic as institutions like City Dynamiek Eindhoven keep trying to tell us (and everyone else) that we are.

I didn’t bother making even a cursory visit to the Fiesta del Sol. All it promised me was the sheen of mediocrity and the desipicable live muzak of yet another festival put on by the local council. I had been looking forward to Zimmer Frei! since I’d heard about it from a co-audience member at a Baltan Laboratories (another worthy Eindhoven organization looking for interesting connections) lecture last week. Zimmer Frei!, unlike its Spanish counterpart, was and promises to be a varied and dynamic event for the people, by the people. Or for interest-ed/-ing people by interest-ed/-ing people. With film, live music, a real wood-fired pizza oven and a swimming pool, Zimmer Frei! continues on Saturday 10/Sunday 11 July from Say at 1pm – until Sun at 6am with even more to look forward to than what I have just seen: be there or be you-know-what.

To find out more info for yourself, visit the site. But to start you off, there’s a second hand record’nCD/book/clothing market during the day. It’s free, but if you pay €5 entry at 12am you can shimmy along until the sun rises, at the “Funky Swingfeest” funky swing party of Groener Gras.

Friday 9 – Saturday 10 July
Location: Schellens fabriek, Bleekweg, ingang-C, Eindhoven

Zimmer Frei! – is a new collaborative project between WEI, Kelderman and van Noort, Groener Gras, SCM2 and Sarie. It is a first. The mood from last night was just right – raw, with a weird as one guest put it “abbatoiresque feel to it”, and a dash of slight uncertainty. This is good. If it comes back next year, please don’t let it become shiny and gentrified! Let it be itself, and have the character of the people behind it; that is, curious, with a good sense of humour, and actively in search of establishing the right place and manner for the people of Eindhoven to celebrate summer.

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