By Dashon T Jones – “All I Can Say Is WoW”. This is truly how I can initially describe my holiday in The Netherlands this year. I arrived in Amsterdam on my Birthday and although the rest of the gang didnt start to arrive until two days later, being in Europe was now a dream realized! Excitement filled me as I walked from Amsterdam Centraal across the canal then to The Victoria Hotel where I then checked in. Once in the room I took a quick shower I hurriedly rushed downstairs and back outside! Until now I had never witnessed such originality in traditional structure, I was thrilled! For two days I alone enjoyed the people, food and architectural fascination of the city. Early Wednesday morning, before daybreak, I got a call from the hotel clerk asking if I was expecting a guest, It was BEN! My buddy and webmaster of TinaTurnerBlog.
We then had a great breakfast and headed to house #2 of the two magnificent rental homes that were booked for select fans/organizers of #Tina77 celebrations. Next up my sister from another mister Anja arrives!! Great! I met her at AMS Centraal & we walked to house #1. Shortly thereafter Stephanie arrived to greet Anja, really sweet and formally welcomed me to “DutchieLand”. Anja made a delicious spaghetti carbonara. Later on I met Sjef for the first time finally which was cool. Thanksgiving! HELP!! This morning Kristian Karoød and Scotty Stillman arrives, Scotty has the ingredients and products to pull off an awesome Thanksgiving Dinner. We may not have had “Beans,Greens, Tomatoes,Potatoes….” but we did have Anja, Ben, Marco, Sjef, Kristian, Marcin, Scotty, Rodrigo and Me! Wonderfully grateful times. Friday at Delirium: after meeting Luzi Kenojam, Martina Manneh and seeing Christian B. again after they arrived earlier in the afternoon, It was time for the #Tina77 VIP Party. Wahoo! Good times again. Upon meeting 30+ friends for the first time in person, there were games, nonstop dancing and singing for hours until after 2am! I had never experienced such an event before. Saturday was the official sightseeing day for Kristian and I per it was our first trip to Amsterdam. We also stopped by the venue for the main event Winston Kingdom, little did I knew of what was to come. Sjef led Christian B., Martina & I to my first Dutch Pannekoek! Tasty! A few hours later it began….
Crazy In The Night: After meeting and greeting more fans & facebook friends, The Lovely Nurlaila Karim took to the stage. This songstress moved that room in a way that was until that point, unimaginable. The vocals, the trembles, the excitement and the chills were all heard and shared throughout this amazing performance. Then once again it was party time! The energy inside was incredible, when you have so much positive vibes all for one cause it creates an atmosphere for greatness! Which is exactly what I felt, im usually playing it cool however I was captured by the essence of the room and danced and sang the night away on stage!! Not like me whatsoever! FUN! FUN! FUN! All of the love for this living monumental figure is built with such strength that it has now become family-like amongst us all. In the early Sunday morning hours returning to house #2 I was met at the door with Ben & Kristian (ha!ha!) immediately after I asked Ben “Are you hungry?” he replies “Oh Im starved!!” both:”but everything is closed” both again: “Anja has those foods”(insider lol) After call pranking Anja then the “Triple Threats” made our way to house #1 joking & laughing aloud along the streets of the Bouwergracht district even the ducks joined us in the noise of such a quiet time of night/morning. Kristian Karoød made the best post party breakfast ever. We headed back home also with the jokes and laughs, I was actually stopping and having to catch my break a few times. These were genuine and now treasured moments.
Sunday: Many from the party came over to house #1 & we relived all of the night before. In the afternoon Anja, Kristian and I got tickets to see Nurlaila star the hit musical The Bodyguard in Utrecht, not only was it a fantastic production, Nurlaila gave us a personal backstage tour of the Beatriz Theater! This is also the theater where in January 2016 Tina Turner surprised Joop Van Den Ende with presenting his award to him. So not only did we see the ins and outs of The Bodyguard we also saw where The Queen was and got a first “hand” story from one of the guys who chauffeured her to the stage. Backstage Nurlaila and husband Muriel invited us to wine in the cast dining/lounge where we discussed bringing “Nurlaila to Nutbush” for Tina Turner Heritage Days 2017! It would be her first venture to the US & what a way to do it!
Monday Mourning: after our final family breakfast Kristian and I got the chance to cruise the canal, very scenic and enjoyed it much. It was now when the magic starts to fade as everyone parted and journeyed home. However to lighten this portion, later in the evening I returned to the Delirium Cafe(Friday’s VIP Party) to discover my lost shirt!(wild times).
Tuesday: I was treated to a tour of Anne Frank House Museum & Westerkerk (The Western Church,most famous in Amsterdam) accompanied by Stephanie Pfundt. In the afternoon I boarded a train to Rotterdam in hopes of visiting Kunsthal Museum for the Peter Lindbergh exhibition however with the delay on board i missed it even though I was there 20 mins or so before closing time. I still took full advantage of me being in Rotterdam, took pictures and explored a bit of the city, it’s a cool place a bit more modern than Amsterdam and equally as beautiful.
Wednesday: Waking up Wednesday morning I smiled although It was time to go back to America I smiled. With luggaged packed I looked around the house for a final time and I believe had a glass of Chocomel said goodbye to the cleaner and walked out. I boarded my train to Schiphol Airport and as my flight departed I looked out over the way and said to myself “Europe, Im Just Getting Started!!!” Special mention to Ben and Anja for really pushing for me to come, you two help me realize a dream that turned into a combo dream:BDay, #TINA77&A city I’ve longed to visit. To all The fans & family of #Tina77 the love & light to gave me is appreciated much! As I finish this open letter of reflection indeed All I Can Say Is WoW.
Dashon T. Jones