After my World Karaoke Tour was shut out in Italy, I headed north and hoped that things would go differently in the Netherlands and Belgium. Three train rides later, and some 16 hours after my departure from Venice, I rolled into the Dutch capital.
Dutch courage in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is well-known for its Red Light District, where one can indulge in certain activities that are unlawful in most of the world. To gain a full flavor of the city in which I now found myself, I made sure to check out the Red Light District (strictly out of curiosity, of course). 🙂 Actually, I didn’t have to wait long after my arrival in Amsterdam to observe one of the city’s legalized vices: as soon as I disembarked from the train, I witnessed people smoking joints on the platform.
I probably could have gotten high myself from the secondhand smoke that was wafting up from all of that cannabis. But doing the Cheech & Chong thing was unnecessary for me. As this blog reflects, singing karaoke provides a natural high for me. So, although many tourists in Amsterdam end up in that city’s “coffee shops”, I set out in search of a venue where I could indulge my addiction to song. Happily, that quest proved much more successful in Amsterdam than it had in Rome; and on Tuesday night, August 31, 2004, the Netherlands became country no. 6 on my World Karaoke Tour.
I opened with “Footloose,” perhaps a risky choice because most of my audience in the bar that night consisted of first-year university students (They were in the midst of their orientation week). Those whippersnappers hadn’t even born yet when Footloose: the movie was released in 1984, and they’d probably never heard its title song, originally recorded by Kenny Loggins. (An atrocious remake of the movie — a “reboot,” in current Hollywood parlance — would be foisted upon filmgoers in 2011; but on that magical night when I strode onto the stage in Amsterdam, the release of the Footloose remake was still seven years in the future.) One thing that I had going for me: the Footloose theme song is an outstanding dance anthem that invariably gets a crowd fired up. Have a look at the closing scene from the movie, in which the full potential of the song is realized:
My concerns about my song selection proved unjustified; the young scholars responded with enthusiasm to my rendition of “Footloose.” If this was their introduction to the song, it had made a favorable first impression on them. My trademark H-Bomb leg kick at the end of the song didn’t hurt. And my Amsterdam karaoke appearance marked the first time that I uttered what would become a signature line for me at my appearances in foreign venues: “New York City is in the house!” This too helped endear me to the audience.
In addition to “Footloose,” I performed four other songs over the course of the evening. I couldn’t tell you what those other songs were, as I neglected to document that information (The name of the bar where my singing took place has also long since been erased from my memory banks). Keep reading to learn more about my experiences in Amsterdam and Brussels