A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Imagine living in a nice old villa in a charming neighborhood in The Hague. Imagine the house having an enchanting spirit for it being a former Congolese embassy. Imagine living there with your friends. Imagine hosting dinners, concerts and parties whenever you want. Imagine living there for free.
Sounds like a nice fantasy, right? For a handful of artists and musicians, it is reality. Two years ago, they found the house empty after the Congolese embassy had moved to Brussels and decided to occupy the building. The villa is located near the beach in Scheveningen and is still property of the embassy. Thus, sometimes the artists who now live in the house get letters or even a visit from some officials, but up to now, they could stay. They aren´t afraid of being kicked out in the future either, for it would cost the embassy too much to move back in and to renovate the whole building.
So what do they do? Every two weeks or so they host a vegan dinner and invite other artists and musicians to perform there. Tonight for example, about twenty people came together for a creative five course Sinterklaas dinner: a wine-chocolate appetizer, mushroom soup with onion and pears, whole-wheat pancakes filled with marzipan and Brussels sprouts accompanied by a pumpkin-carrot-chili cake and cinnamon pickled mandarins with pepernoten, spekulatius flan with soy whipped cream and raisins as first and a marble cake as second dessert. The lack of salt in the soup was compensated by plenty of sugar in the other courses and the affection the food was prepared and served with.
After everybody finished eating and after people had washed their dishes in the improvised washbasins, the start of the concert in the saloon was announced. I don´t know why after this unconventional dinner I was still expecting some kind of jazzy band performance. Of course, this did not happen. Instead, two guys were sitting opposite to each other on a small table, the one with a laptop and the other one with a mixing pult in front of them. The wall behind the two DJs was painted in a crazy black and white pattern and illuminated by a bilious green spotlight. An old piano stood lonely in the corner.
So we took a seat on a small wooden bench and started listening to a freaky electronic sound performance. At the beginning, I was not sure whether they were still testing and adjusting the speakers, but after half an hour of the screeching and chinking sounds not fading but becoming more and more aggressive, we decided to leave because we did not end up with tinnitus for a Sinterklaas present. Still, I will definitely give the Villa K another go and hope for the piano to have a star role in the next concert!