The Vault (Den Haag Centrum)
Crazy Pianos (Scheveningen)
The Dutch like to party late. And as it turned out, very very late. We were on the way back from a post-conference dinner which was liberally punctuated by helpings of wine, and our host decided that the night was still very young and virginal. It was midnight. As the ghostly hour struck, we entered the portals of The Vault (a translation of the typically unpronounceable Dutch name) which ‘used to be a bank’. I would say that it is still a bank, judging by the amount of moolah they make out of it’s patrons.
Our host stuck to his Orangeboom and I went for a round of Jameson. I hate Techno, but I suppose many of you would agree with me when I say that it kinda GROWS on you when you’re plenty drunk in a dark pub full of swaying – and equally drunk – bodies. The place is crowded, even more so past midnight when the barmen (or barboys, since they’re all teenagers) start dancing on the bar. They actually dance to the music (on the Bar, mind you) and serve you. Very novel. Very happening. After a while you notice that the statues dotting the wall are actually girls standing on the tables adjoining the walls. There isn’t much to be said for the drinking experience here. You catch hold of the nearest waiter who happens to zip by twirling a tray on his index finger and shout your order into his ears. It is generally understood that the waiters do not hear you over the din, but I suppose it’s some kind of ancient tradition to order something and drink something else. If you want what you ask for, go to the bar and hope that the dancing barman sees you. Else, be prepared to drink whatever the Surinamese waiter -who appears miraculously under your face as you’re dancing – carries on the proffered tray. There isn’t much time for socialising, either. You dance – very seriously.
As we staggered out of The Vault, we mentioned to our host that we would appreciate some fresh air. So he drove us to a beach resort nearby – Scheveningen. This is where we came across this ATM in a Toilet. Basically, the night was freezing cold (it was January and you could see the ice forming on still water) so the local boys use the ATM as the urinal in order to protect their private parts from the chill. Okay, so after all of us had drawn some local currency (very colourful currency, incidentally) we headed towards the Crazy Pianos. Here I was denied entry because I was wearing sneakers. So all of us dashed back into the car, where our host keeps spare socks. So I dragged a couple of heavy woolen socks OVER my sneakers and we made a dash back to the Crazy Pianos. Guys – this trick works. The man at the door looked down and didn’t see my white Nikes. He saw a blurred black shape which he assumed was a shoe. Entry granted. HEHEHEHEHEHE.
Anyway, once we were in, it was very obvious why the place was called Crazy Pianos. There were two RED pianos bang in the middle, and a very industrious band was playing away to glory at 2 am in the morning. You edge closer and find why they’re singing so well. On each piano is an empty beer jug filled with currency notes. Each currency note has a request attached to it. I tried my luck and put in a request for Roadhouse Blues on a 10 Guilder note as that was what everyone was offering. I got a thank you from the singer, but no song for the next 20 mins. So I dropped the request again, this time with a 50 Guilder note and the singer stopped whatever he was singing immediately. Roadhouse Blues it will be, he said with a very deep bow. The band is very versatile. After every few songs, they trade places. The guy on one of the pianos moves to the drums, the drummer moves to the guitar, the guitar boy moves to the keyboards and so on. Amazing !
The booze is good, and it’s reasonably priced.