Sunday, 12 August 2012

The Ancestors of The Future

Sunrise comes up over two massive industrial gas tanks, I have just taken a devil shaped pill after keeping the coffee bar running all night.  I say coffee bar, but it is much  more wonderous than that.  A motorbike with a wood oven, gas hobs and shelves that provide the most important fuel of a festival frequenter.  Good coffee, organic lasagne, vegetable and cheese pastries and a direct standpoint to meet the creative and crazy characters of this squatted arts village known as Ruigoord. 

Once upon a time there was a little village in the northern fields of Amsterdam, it had a church, a shop and all that a little village would need.  The industrial occupiers of the nearby fields and factories decided to buy the land of the village and demolish it.  So all the residents left their houses and settled elsewhere.  Stumbling across this abandoned village, a group of  'hippies' set up home and around that very same time, for some unattached reason, the industrial deal was cancelled, and the village was not to be demolished afterall.  40 years on, it is one of the most respected arts and festival grounds in Amsterdam and I was there at the solstice festival....

The bass drum background never ceased to beat, as everyones hearts seem to beat in 150bpm unison and in the church a synchpated half time of 75bpm Dub slows things down.  I was starting to feel the pill that I had just traded for a cofee and a cake, so I grabbed my guitar and drew myself to the morning campfire.  Festivals attract people all with a different story and background, and it is a melting pot for all sorts.

'Yeah, I am a poet/Singer-Songwriter and only psy-trance goa core beatboxer in the world' says this young English boy from Stone Henge.  He had a wispy virgin beard, and a know it all demeanor.  When he wasn't spewing out stuff about himself, he was sputtering out this spitting eating noise that was supposed to represent 'beat boxing.'  He loved talking about himself, and was quick to grab his pad of poems that he was itching to read to me. 'I am a shamanistic healer, with words you will feel yeah, I am the voice of my generation, Mr policeman, may I ask you this, why are you so lame, pig.'  And other self worshiping. I talk to him about protest songs that nurture the seeds of thoughts in people, as opposed to a rhyming reporting of exaggerated bland information of semi facts.  He sees himself as this shamanistic guide and poetic light, but is still a child with no wisdom or experience.  Although he irritated me, and it was quick and ruthless poking through the holes of his philosophies, I can at least admire a fire in a kid that wants to make things right.  Though how he was saying it was amateur and child like, he is still trying to express his frustration at what he sees as wrong.  If he seeks wisdom, he will find it.

My beautiful friend Elaine, who is a big part of the Ruigoord festival family has her camper set up in the usual spot.  We always seem to tune into eachother when it is Irish Coffee time, and as I arrive, the sunshine of Reinas and Peggy and the smell of a coffee brewing and a circle of friends enjoying sunrise in that golden morning light with a  hazy headedness of a festival dawn.  They show me the secret places of Ruigoord, the wooded hdden pathways, peacocks, turkeys, hand made houses out of wood.  The men of the village love to build things, and I never thought wooden pallets could and would be used to build so much.  The industrial powers are closing in further and further, and every year they lose some land to giant gas tankers, or wind farms.  This year they made squatting illegal in Nederlands, and yet the oldest squats in Amsterdam are now the most interesting arts and festival sites, and also homes of artists, gypsys, mechanics, musicians, welders, orphans, sailors, nurses, acrobats and all the colourful types of creative and crazy people from all over the world.

Everything is shared, people feel it is a way of adding to the atmosphere of just enjoying a good time.  You can go and sit next to anyone and start talking over a joint and a beer.  I met two guys who love Ruigoord, they have a very calm and easy going way of talking about things.  'I love to paint old things, you know, breathe some new life into them.  You see my camper here, it was so old and rusted when I got it, but look at her now with a little work and paint she is reborn.  I really think machines have a kind of human element.  They are alive in ways that they move and operate, and run on fuel like we do.' I fully understood, and related my love for the character of the bikes in this city.  Peggy and Reinas were at the info stand, greeting everyone as they arrived with their warmth and a song, and a ringing of a bell.  Again, wanting ever person who entered to have the best time possible.  Gabriel, an American musician who settled here 20 some years ago, improvises this wonderful reggae song to welcome people in, and again, adds that sparkle to the place.

The church is now a true church of the people.  It has a bar, visual projections, and the cross at the top of the spire has been turned into the symbol of Ruigoord.  A smiling almost devilish face, it is a smile that says, 'Fuck you! We can make our own world' and they do. As you enter the village, it is written,on a window in words that make you think of the infinity of time and history, 'We are the ancestors of the future'. 

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