EVENTS | FESTIVALS
Every year, Milkshake Festival and Pride Walk kick off official Amsterdam Pride celebrations on the same day. Milkshake Fest is a collaboration between two major clubs based in Amsterdam: Paradiso and AIR. The festival takes over Westerpark every July for an entire weekend of fun, drugs, music and an encouragement to express yourself in any way you want. As many as 11 stages are strewn all over the park, some of them hidden out of plain sight. “For All Who Love” is the festival’s motto and it’s plain to see.
I found out about the Milkshake festival in 2017 from the Instagram account of The Scarlet Woman of the West, Love Bailey (main image). The photos that she posted from the event looked so sunny and inviting, it looked like the heaven for the rebels of society.
I was finally able to make it out to Europe in the summer of 2019 and Milkshake was going to be the final stop on my mini tour of getting acquainted with the Eurpoean queer communities. What I failed to realize, was that Milkshake is only the beginning of a week of Pride celebrations in Amsterdam, so I was going to be missing some major street parties, the Drag Olympics, and the Canal Parade.
On the first day of Milkshake I had a rude awakening. I hadn’t even entered the grounds of the festival before I was smashed in the face with my own camera by an already-twisted attendee. The guy didn’t even apologize and just kept on moving along in his hazy state. I was trying to pretend that everything was okay– even though my eye was throbbing with pain– and told my subject to continue posing.
“Honey, are you sure you are okay? Your eye is bleeding.”
I looked into my phone camera and saw that I had two deep cuts under my eye and I was basically crying blood tears.
“Cool! This shall serve me as a battlescar,”
I thought and went off to find the nearest medic.
The nearest medic turned out to be a veterinarian, and after I told her I had been kicked in the eye, she asked me, with great concern on her face, if it was someone at the festival that hit me. I laughed and said it was an accident, this comes with the tough job of being a journalist. It made me feel kind of badass, like it gave me a sort of street cred, while going pretty well with my Lara Croft-inspired outfit.
The magnitude of the festival was truly shocking. With 11 stages in total– some of them hidden– there was plenty to explore. It was like a drug-induced partyland for adults. There was a huge tower by the entrance comprised of dick pics measured against various objects, from empty toilet rolls to Pringles boxes. Each stage had its own theme and it’s own musical genre, the biggest and the most impressive one being the Supertoys stage with a Ferris wheel attached to its back. Melanie C and Honey Dijon were amongst the headliners of the stage.
There was a backyard -looking party corner where people could ride a mechanical dick; a luminous sex room in the shape of a diamond that was placed right in the middle of a rave club, where I witnessed a straight couple, a lesbian couple, and a gay orgy getting it on all at the same time; there were guys who were walking around completely naked with unfailable cock rings; an area with human-sized blow-up balloons, where one could squeeze themselves into them and be at the mercy of a drunk girl rolling them all over the field; there was mostly vegan food and one refillable plastic cup per person rule; there was a huge funhouse and a Ferris wheel; drag and voguing performances; and most importantly a lot of fucked-up, crazy-outfit-wearing friendly people from all walks of life who were having fun and getting along famously.
Throughout the whole weekend many MCs were spreading the same messages of love, freedom, living the moment, and celebrating ourselves as we are. Milkshake represents life as it is– crazy, beautiful, ugly and full of surprises.
“Nothing should be a must, anything is possible,”
is one of the festival’s many mottos.
At the end of the day, Milkshake is a great equalizer, it shows the simple truth that we are all in this together and that we can all co-exist and be happy no matter our physical or mental differences.
The 2019 event was beautiful and overwhelming, crazy and eye-opening, raw and real, exhausting and exhilarating, and I cannot wait to go back in the future.