Milkshake Festivals kicks off Amsterdam Pride along with Pride Walk earlier in the day. The festival is a collaboration between two major clubs based in Amsterdam: Paradiso and AIR. Milkshake 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 about two years ago from the Scarlet Woman of the West Love Bailey, whose Instagram I had just recently started stalking. The photos that she posted from the event looked so sunny and inviting, with her whole gang dressed in fierce red outfits – I just knew I had to be there one day.
I was finally able to make it out to Europe this summer, and Milkshake was going to be the final stop on my mini European tour of getting acquainted with the lives of queer communities in this part of the world. 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. Nonetheless, covering 3 events (including Pride Walk) in a 4-day span was more than enough for me, and I was pumped for Milkshake.
Love Bailey during her performance
On the first day 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 while I was taking someone else’s photo. The guy didn’t even really apologize and just kept on walking, while I was trying to pretend that everything was okay 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!,” 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 though, like it gave me a sort of street cred, and also went pretty well with my Lara Croft-inspired outfit.
I was truly shocked by the magnitude of the festival, though. There were 11 stages in total and some of them were hidden. It was like a drug-induced party land for adults. There was a huge tower by the entrance comprised of dick pics of various sizes, 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 that area.
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.
As the festival officially states, “Nothing should be a must, anything is possible,'' while also saying that it is “For boys who love girls who love girls who love boys who love boys…” Many people on different stages who were responsible for hyping up the crowd over the microphone said something along the same lines of being free, enjoying the moment, and celebrating ourselves as we are. Milkshake represents and shows life in all of its crazy states and moments – it shows and teaches you that, at the end of the day, we are all in this together and that we can all co-exist and be happy no matter our physical or mental differences.
It was beautiful and overwhelming, crazy and eye-opening, raw and real, exhausting and exhilarating, and I cannot wait to go back.