After already spending last weekend in Beijing at the Opening Ceremony, I will be back in the capital city tomorrow night for another dose of Olympics. One of the places that I will certainly frequent over the next couple of days is the Holland Heineken House (HHH). This is the center of Dutch partying (although there are also a lot of other nationalities that come just for the great atmosphere) and one of the hottest places to be at night in Beijing during the Summer Olympics. The HHH is located on East 3rd ring road in the Agricultural Exhibition Center, you’ll see the building from a distance because of all the spot lights around it.
The place is huge: not only is there a hall with a stage for partying, but there are also restaurants and shops, and even a Dutch bakery. Dutch TV broadcasts its Olympic programs from the roof of the HHH and a Dutch radio station put a complete radio studio on the premises. There are also some places to have a quiet talk outside in the garden, and if you’re into table tennis you can show off your ping pong skills on one of the many tables.
Last weekend I spent one night at the HHH and loved it. The atmosphere was fantastic inside the building, there were at least 1000 people partying the night away, drinking, dancing and singing to the music. On monitors you could watch a live broadcast of the Olympics while having a Heineken beer or a typical Dutch snack such as a kroket. The beer was quite expensive though: I feel that RMB 35 for a glass is a bit steep, but I assume the venue does not come cheap either.
Dutch sports people who win medals get to go on stage, the national anthem will be played and the audience cheers them. When we were there a Dutch judo player who had just won a bronze medal went on stage and the crowd was screaming and yelling to celebrate his medal. Actually, I felt a bit awkward about this: if someone wins gold of course he/she deserves this. But someone who ends up in third place? I can imagine the guy was happy (I would too with an Olympic medal), but the crowd overdid it a bit. In my opinion only gold is what counts, just like in real life where you also don’t get rewarded for losing, the winner takes it all! A Chinese friend with whom I discussed this later fully agreed, the Chinese team would never give bronze winners such an honor. But maybe the crowd had had too much beer already and was just using every opportunity to party even more!
But apart from this ceremony I had a great night. There was a Dutch singer on stage, Jan Smit, who is locally famous in Holland and the crowds loved him. He even had to do an encore at the end of his short show. Also a bunch of Dutch politicians and Royalty visited the HHH, I saw among others crown prince Willem-Alexander, princess Maxima, prime minister Balkenende, politician Ed Nijpels and the mayor of Amsterdam Job Cohen. They all seemed to enjoy the party and nobody worried too much about security (there were some body guards around, but nobody checked our bags or clothing when we entered)
I met a lot of friends at the HHH, some of them I had not seen in years. There was a group of Dutch expats that lived in Beijing 5-6 years ago (when I also still had an apartment there) and who had all come back to Beijing just for the Olympics. I also met friends that were in Beijing when I lived there and are still there, but as expected most of them left China in the mean time. For me it was a great night, and I look forward to spending several more nights there over the next days. If you want to meet me, I plan to be there again Friday night around 11 PM. Cheers!