Treated like "Royalty"

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Oct 3rd, 2006
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One of the great things about Amsterdam is that you just never know. Seriously. You never do. Even the most mundane, simple, or otherwise generic situation can evolve (or in all likelihood escalate) into something very, very different that what you anticipated.

Case in point: Club Royalty off the Leidseplein.

One night during our recent trip, Steve and I were wandering aimlessly about town trying to find live music. You would think that a party town like Amsterdam would have tons of live bands gigging nightly to packed houses …. You’d be wrong. It was a Saturday night at about 10pm and we simply could not find a club with a live band. Now, I’m not counting the weird two man band in the horse trailer pulled by a golf cart that stopped every two hundred yards so that a skinny Dutch kid could do an awful karaoke version of Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills”. Oh yeah, that really happened … but it still doesn’t count.

We were prepared to give up the hunt and just get to the business of drinking without provocation when just out of earshot we heard the strains of what could only be a live drum kit and a slightly out of tune guitar. “A band!” we screamed, “an honest to goodness band!” and we scurried off toward the sound. It was coming from a very dark, very modern looking place called Club Royalty. We paid the doorman, went inside, and there, on the stage, was a band called Mongo or Mondo … something like that.

Okay, this is where it gets weird. The band was fun – a Dutch cover band doing passable versions of U2 and Lenny Kravitz songs – but apart from the band and the staff …. Steve and I were the only people in the place. Not weird you say? Well, dig this …. Big bar, four bartenders on duty, three doormen, two bar backs, and a host of additional people … all for …. me and Steve. Further, there was an upstairs with an additional four staffers. Still, just me and Steve and our glasses of Heineken … which we could get refilled by any number of people at the raise of an eyebrow. It was the best service … ever!

An hour passes … then two. We watch the band (still just us), and notice even more people reporting for work! At this rate there was about a 6 to one staff to patron ratio meaning that Steve and I could easily walk from one end of the empty bar to the other on the heads of bar employees without ever touching the carpet. We were stunned. The band played on and eventually announced there last song. It was a rousing AC/DC cover that met with the hearty applause that only four hands can make. Then it happened …

At exactly midnight the bar was full. I don’t necessarily remember people coming in … I just remember being one of two people in the room and then, in the blink of a bleary eye, there were two or three hundred people taking up every available square inch of space. I’m not complaining – we had fun and met some very interesting folks. We even came dangerously close to a full on bar fight with some older gents who seemed to be dressed for an “Insurance Salesman of the Year” banquet. Even stranger, now it cost 25 cents to pee … and from a female Men’s Room attendant who looked like she had borrowed Lindsey Lohan’s liver for the weekend.

The band never went back on – so no one but Steve and I actually saw them – instead a DJ playing 80s dance records took over – but the place remained balls to the walls packed until 4am. Needless to say, it became harder to get a beer when there weren’t eighteen people serving the two of us. Ah, but we managed to drink until we were asked not to, and since it was Steve’s birthday … plenty of ill advised tequila was involved.

As is always the case, the story gets weirder and darker and involves one of us doing our part to strengthen international relations in a way the UN can only dream of … but I’ll leave that story for braver souls to tell …

Suffice to say that Amsterdam always delivers … just not always on time.

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