|Issue 2 - February 1972|
|New Year's Eve In Amsterdam|
Kosmos club was closed, members only because it was full to the brim.
The Dutch make a big thing of New Year's Eve, fire-crackers exploding
everywhere. We were told there was something on at Moses Church in Waterlooplein
so we went on down there.
The Church is situated close to the 'flea market' where you can pick up leather jackets and fur coats (huge selection) very cheaply for the quality they are. Round the corner is a Head Shop - a little expensive but one or two nice things. Opposite, the demolition boys have moved in and initiated the Amsterdam metro. Graffiti everywhere condemning the project. Smashing a beautiful city around, particularly those areas where people have found cheap accommodation and built nice scenes.
Inside the Church were about five hundred people. There was a huge room with a huge carpeted central floor, pillars, pews, and dominating the scene, a vast wall above the altar with a representation of the crucifixion, the resurrection and above it all, old man God. The overall effect was a gigantic backcloth of reds, silvers, golds and blacks. At the rear of the Church, heads selling macro-food and hot drinks. No smoking.
Very soon the passageway connecting the Church to the bogs became a comfortable smoking scene. Among the people, three GI's who turned us on to good US grass - forced to wear coloured head-bands round their closely cropped hair to convey to the people where they really were at. One wore huge dark shades and successfully parodied death. Seems the US army is some kind of circus today, people turning on and rejecting the whole inhuman pantomime. The pictures along the wall alternating traditional religious themes and modern expressionism, a real breath of air after experiencing the stuffiness of English churches. A guy, middle-aged, was hassling people for smoking - all that was in his favour, apart for his single minded determination at an impossible task, was the fact that he didn't distinguish between joints and straights, it was just the fire risk that bugged him. He carried on resolutely all evening, some people just gave him what they were smoking, others lit up as he passed on his way.
In Holland shit is virtually legal and there's an even chance that it could be legalised soon. Busted shit is stored by the authorities for a five year period rather than destroyed (?) as in Britain, because if it is legalised it must be returned to its owner. This liberal approach to smoking means that the majority of young people are left alone. The result has been a relaxed and uninhibited scene - people are much closer together and there's much we can learn from them.
The music was provided by anyone who felt like playing and at first it wasn't too hot. Three guys eventually got a country and western thing together and the place warmed up considerably. New Year was slipped in and Auld Lang Syne barely survived a bar. People were fascinating - interesting faces, beautiful gear and peaceful. Some of the people who really stuck in the mind were a plain looking girl with a beautiful body dressed in transparent medieval gowns, complete with headdress; a guy wearing pale green tights who was really into his body; guys with bright red hair (used a lot of henna); transvestites; gay people; and a girl who was cut out of her dress with a pair of scissors only to reveal that her legs were ugly and sinewy.
People looked amazing with the church forming their immediate surrounds - people up on the altar, guys leaning on columns, people in the pews with their packs (the Marrakesh express), people sitting rapping on the central floor, dogs and kids running around the pulpit and one of them, a chick, continually sliding down the banister. The church was more than desecrated, it was purified. The 'happening' highlighted today's social hypocrisy, an atmosphere of brother against brother, sister against sister, all in the name of financial advantage and material comfort; at the same time people who showed they can get together mentally and physically at the same time but labelled the scum of the earth.
At one point a guy leapt into the middle of the carpeted floor, he was short, dark-haired and bearded, wore a balaclava and a suit made up of light bulbs, a swirling cloak and large polaroid glasses. He really turned the place on - good poems, set up a chant of "alter the image of the image of the image" and finished with a rousing "hallelujah masturbation" to the tune of the 'Battle Hymn of the Republic'. We stayed on until four, talked and looked at people. The place was quietening down a little, one or two crashing out and the remainder beginning to leave. We left too. It was cold outside - but we were a lot warmer inside. For a short time we had beaten the cold and that must bode well for 1972.