Taking the Party Underground: Squat Houses in Groningen

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Skip the club and head to the squat. In Groningen, squat houses are the best places to catch new music and meet fellow After Hours Athletes.

Through billows of smoke, we can see the girls of Colombian punk band Polikarpa y Sus Viciosas thrashing onstage – fast rhythms, three chords and the truth, all delivered with throaty vocals. Local favourites Malamondo are set to take the stage next, but we should point out that the term “stage” is relative. We’re not in some trendy music club in Amsterdam. We’re up north in Groningen, throwing down in one of the city’s outlawed (wink wink) squat houses, where the ceilings are low, the music is loud, and the parties go all night.

While the Netherlands might be famous for open-minded people and ‘take-it-easy’ philosophy, this particular aspect of our more permissive culture isn’t as well known. See, we have a longstanding tradition of turning abandoned or unused houses into squats, where our teammates live, play and throw killer parties. One man’s garbage is another’s treasure, right?

Technically, they’ve been illegal since 2010, but in Groningen there’s a nice little policy of looking the other way, and as a result the squat house party scene is thriving. Here in a desolate northern patch of the city, we’re getting our punk on tonight, but every day of the week there’s something different going down: themed communal meals, dance parties, “end of days” bashes with zombie and alien costumes.

We may never know exactly what we’re going to get when we drop in on the squats, but we do know we’ll find new teammates, cheap beer and wine, and an opportunity to dance until dawn. So get in while the getting’s good – we never know when the authorities are going to shut them down.