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'Shall we jump a bit more?'

20 June 2023
Nearly two thousand visitors came to the Déjà VU Festival on Thursday 15 June, to listen to Dutch hip-hop, take flash lectures or to spin around in an old-fashioned carousel. Most people came mainly to see each other. 'We've known each other since introduction week in 1980.'

Text: Shirley Haasnoot | Photos: Yvonne Compier & Peter Valckx

4 p.m.: 30 degrees. The Déjà VU Festival is kicking off and visitors are trickling in on the campus grounds. At a picnic table in the shade of the maple tree, alumnus Yeter Tan (Political Science 1998) studies the programme, with which VU is ushering in summer for the second time. Tan does not want to miss the performance of Turkish-Dutch Karsu Dönmez. She doesn't know the anarchist punk rock band Hang Youth, which is on before Karsu, she has never even heard of their apt hit 'Lay the Zuidas in ashes'. 'But maybe it will be very beautiful,' she says optimistically.

5 p.m.: 29 degrees. Exuberant students spin around in an old-fashioned wooden carousel in the middle of the grounds. The Déjà VU Festival, for students, staff and alumni, is once again grand. Famous Dutch bands will perform on the main stage, leading VU scientists will give flash lectures, there will be a Silent Disco and in the blazing sun there will be a festival market with stalls by Student Sport Amsterdam (SSA) and the VU Choir. In the hall of the NU building, visitors look attentively at the UB books selected by beaming University Library staff member Laura Voordewind.

The visitors are festively dressed in colourful dresses and shirts, with rainbow socks and particularly lots of face paint

6 p.m.: 26 degrees. Rapper SOR (Rosario Mussendijk) sets in with the first sounds of Beethoven's Mondscheinsonate but then quickly switches to the musical hip-hop he is known for. A bevy of fans has gathered in front of the stage, but tonight the visitors have mostly come for each other and not for the music. Groups of young people walking everywhere, talking intensely to each other, festively dressed in colourful dresses and shirts, with rainbow socks, glitter trousers and particularly lots of face paint. Across the grounds, an incessant murmur of voices resounds.

There is wild dancing at the musical protest against greedflation and capitalism

6:45 p.m.: 26 degrees. Punk band Hang Youth plays familiar songs like 'Set the Mona Lisa on fire'. Beautiful is not the right description of this musical protest against greedflation and capitalism, but there is wild dancing. At punctually 7:30, the anarchist band is finished and singer Abel van Gijlswijk takes photos with fans, to the joyful sounds of Abba, while the stage is prepared for the next performance.

'Missing is the smell of death, our capitalism is a ruinous system'

8 p.m.: 24 degrees. Where have the older members of the VU community gone? Some are sitting cosily on the terrace at the alumni meet-ups. By far most are in the two theatre halls of the NU building where flash lectures in English and Dutch are going on simultaneously. Inger Leemans, Professor of Cultural History, handed out a picture of Amsterdam's seventeenth-century stock exchange building, which smells like a heavy, sweet perfume, prior to the (Dutch-language) knowledge session 'Never waste a good crisis'. It is the reconstructed smell of the city, and a memento of trade in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, she says. 'But missing is the smell of death,' says financial journalist Eric Smit (Economics 1997), who succeeds her as speaker. 'Our capitalism is a ruinous system.'

9 p.m.: 24 degrees. "Time is up!" reads in large letters on the digital clock, bringing the final lecture, on personalised healthcare, to an end. Moderator and VU alumna Nicole Terborg throws the microphone, wrapped in a foam cube, with a quick basketball throw to one last questioner but at 9:03 it is really over. Alumnus Emil Blomberg (Physics 1988) puts on his shoes. He has followed all lectures from the front row, together with his friend John Grin (Physics 1986). 'We've known each other since introduction week in 1980.'

10:15 p.m.: 23 degrees. Three girlfriends sit at a table among the deserted stalls of the festival market braiding wristbands. 'That's nice when you're a bit overexcited,' says Julia Cernotto from Argentina. She studies Political Science at VU Amsterdam and has a side job at the Jumbo supermarket. After the cold winter months, she is happy that summer has finally arrived. Meanwhile, the latest performance by hip-hop band Primate is in full swing. 'It's all about energy!' exclaims singer Fabian Schrijver. 'Shall we jump together a bit more?'

10:30 p.m.: 23 degrees. It's still not quite dark. The Silent Disco is crowded, people rocking to the sounds of music from their wireless headphones or lounging in beach chairs on the campus beach next door. The entire area is decorated with colourful, reusable lanterns, giving a fairy-tale atmosphere. At the first-aid station, aid workers Bear and Timon, both 20, have a quiet evening. Apart from a girl who had fainted, and was picked up by her mother, not much happened. 'Beautiful weather and everything was well organised,' says Beer. 'It was a lovely day.'

Aftermovie & photos Déjà VU Festival

June 15, 2023

Take a look at the festival photos!