The scene: a Vangelis concert in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, spring 1991.
I have always loved the music of Vangelis. Just in case you do not know who he is: he is a Greek composer, performer and record producer. He is a pioneer in the electronic, ambient and new-age genres, and is known for organising outdoor spectacles featuring his music, accompanied by vast laser displays, large projections and fireworks.
One of those spectacles was going to happen in the part of the city of Rotterdam where I worked at the time. The show was called the ‘Eureka-tour’ and Vangelis was to run it from a little pontoon on the river ‘Nieuwe Maas’. I desperately wanted to see it and thousands of other people had the same idea – I found myself on the jam packed quay and all I could see was the back of other people’s heads. I was there on my own and as I was looking around for a better vantage point, I noticed a couple of youngsters moving towards an old, somewhat dilapidated multi-story office building, and it seemed to me they had plans to find a balcony to watch from. On a whim I decided to join them. Adventure!
Climbing the balcony
The group climbed onto a wall, went through a broken window of the lobby. They gave me a hand and then some flights of stairs took us up to maybe the 6th level, where there was an easy access door to the balconies. They turned out not to be real balconies, just a narrow strip outside the windows of the offices. Probably meant for repair men or the likes. And not really equipped to hold an excited group of people watching a concert. We never saw any danger in our actions. We were giddy with excitement and could clearly see Vangelis on the river-pontoon. Let the show begin!
Fabulous view – for a few minutes only…
I remember seeing people in the office spaces and they looked very upset with us. We blocked their view… But we were triumphant and in an excellent mood. We did try to gesture to them if they would let us in to watch from the inside. There was plenty of room in the offices. But they did not like that. They probably paid to be there themselves… They were not going to let us in. Instead, as the first melodies and laser beams started on the river, they called the police! We did not know that, of course. We were all clapping and dancing enthusiastically to Vangelis’s exquisite music. It did not last long. You can guess what happened.
Here comes the police 🙁
A bunch of threatening-looking armed police officers entered the building and ordered us off the balcony. It was instantly clear that they were not going to take any prisoners, pun intended. We tried to reason with them for a short minute, promising to leave the building and just watch and listen from the street-level. But they would have none of that and within 20 minutes they herded us into a black van and drove us to the nearest police station. We were grouped in a jail cell (THAT was a first for me!) and kept there until the concert ended. None of us saw and experienced it. Around midnight, we were let go with stern warnings. Our names had been taken and if we were ever going to ‘act out’ like this again, we would be facing real charges. I kind of enjoyed the adventure, but I made sure never to step out of line again, least of all in the city of Rotterdam…
I arrived home and felt so dejected. At the time, these types of events were televised, but I had never thought of setting my VCR to catch it. It was not until quite recently that I thought to look it up online. And lo and behold, I found that concert. I cannot embed it here (probably due to copyright issues), but if you are interested, copy the link below (without the quotes) and paste into your browser to watch the spectacle. All that happened to me that night was making a spectacle of myself…