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MERGE Editor in chief Shana Debusschere



New York is the city that never sleeps. Paris is the city of lovers. Chicago, the windy city. And Amsterdam, sex drugs and rock and roll. Or is it? What makes Amsterdam Amsterdam. And am I truly Amsterdam?

Photo Editor

In this issue we try to pick apart the capital city by displaying various sides of it that might not be the first ones coming to mind. We dive into a Brazilian festival, we take a closer look at the art scene in Amsterdam today, we confront people on the street with their own Amsterdamishness and we have a conversation with someone both in and out of Amsterdam culture. We tell a story.. And we try to do it differently. Because a city, which has such a rich history and culture, which is ancient yet at the same time vibrantly alive, shouldn’t be defined by coffee shops. As always, there’s so much more to explore. Have a look, turn the page.

Bibana van den Brink Rose de Bruijn

Christiaan van Hattem


Christiaan van Hattem Daniela Krenn Manoela Tomasi

Reporters Gijs Hoonhout Jenny Minderman Malou Huisman Manoela Tomasi Tine Eide









03 foreword Our editor in chief is thinking about clichés,


06 am I Amsterdam? We ask people in Amsterdam what actually

26 food What to cook with potatoes, fish, eggs, cheese and

08 festival Our brasilian reporter is showing our norwegian

28 art Art is everything, art is everwhere. in Amsterdam

especially clichés about Amsterdam.

makes them Amsterdam.

reporter how to dance.

12 people Growing up in a bilangual family? we wanted to

know, how this feels like.


Amsterdam shows some extraordinary ways to life.


it’s even on the street.



Am I Amsterdam? We went on the streets to ask average people what makes them feel welcome in the city and answer:

Janneke de Mulder, 26, Amsterdam

Ari van der See, 22, Amsterdam

I am Amsterdam because I like having different options. I want to choose my own lifestyle. Amsterdam is Europe’s capital of opportunities.

Gert Tavakolian, 24, Groningen I live here and contribute to the every thingness just by being me. In this city you find all kind of people and cultures.

Photos by Malou Huisman

Gull-May, 71, and Bengt, 72, Torstensson, Sweden

Amsterdam means freedom to me. Here you can do what you want.

We are Amsterdam because we really feel the city when we are here visiting our children and grandchildren.

Claire Thomsson, 24, USA

Linda Lang, 21, Germany Amsterdam seems so alive, young and fresh, just like me. There are so many different things going on in the city, at the same time. It’s like the city has its own life.

Veiko Baccon, 29, Czech Republic I do a lot of multimedia-projects here. Amsterdam is a crazy city with open-minded people. The low buildings make this place feel like a small town even if it is the capital, that’s why I feel home.

I fell in love with the city at first sight. I guess it is because all the nice and easy going people.

Brazilian dance finds home in Amsterdam

Forró for all Text by Manoela Tomasi

Music, sensuality and most of all fun. These are some of the words to describe the second edition of the dance festival I Amforrozeiro 2013. The event is a Brazilian party that happens in the middle of Amsterdam. People from all over the world come to the city to participate in this feast that just had its second edition in The Netherlands. About 300 people, including Dutch and Brazilian, joined the festival last September. They attended several workshops that focused on teaching the most traditional dance from the northeast of Brazil: Forró. The building is split in four different ballrooms, giving the dancers all the space to experiment and learn different styles of the particularly Brazilian dance. Known as a dynamic city, Amsterdam has been open to all kinds of festivals over the years. Juliana Braga (49), dance teacher and the founder of I Amforrozeiro, is originally from Brazil. However, she came to Amsterdam 25 years ago and she never left again. As far as Juliana is concerned, Amsterdam offers a great possibility to expose different cultures. “I have my own dance studio and the majority of the students is Dutch. I have always felt very welcome here”. In spite of the popularity here in Amsterdam and in the rest of Europe, Forró should be able to grow even bigger. As this was the second edition of the dance festival in two years, in Brazil they have several Forró parties a month! But if there is a city outside of Brazil that could achieve the same, it is Amsterdam. “The Dutch have no prejudice. They are very open minded also because of their history and the amount of immigrants that can be found here. However, the Dutch men are still embarrassed when it

Photos by Tine Eide

comes to dancing and well, Forró needs a couple”, Juliana tells us. According to Juliana Braga, the Forró has two ways to be danced: “There is the more commercial one, witch is more known and popular all over Europe and even in Brazil nowadays. On the otherhand, there is the Forró called Pé de Serra, the most traditional and classic, which is the one we teach here. I can say the public is smaller but faithful. Not only they like Brazilian music, they actually visit the country and merge deeply into the culture”.

What does Forró mean? The origin of the term of this popular dance has different theories. Some folklorists say it is an abbreviation for the word “forrobodó”, which means a mixture of fun and mess. All around Brazil it is known as a word that is connected to the English “for all” due to British people who, while working in Brazil, used to promote parties for everyone. In Amsterdam Forró has grown to a deeper meaning then just the definition of the word. For the Dutch woman, Ruchama Hoed (40), who has been dancing Forró for one year, the music and the choreography are sensual and playful at the same time. “I was introduced to the dance by a friend. I started dancing because sometimes it takes me away, into a dimension where it is not about learning steps but just being myself and my body becoming one with the music. I love the fact that you don’t need to know the person you are dancing with and still have a beautiful moment with this stranger”. In her opinion, the traditional dance is not yet extremely popular in the




Netherlands but it is definitely growing. “Forró is still very underground which makes it very interesting. It is wonderful that Brazilians are sharing their knowledge with the world”, says Ruchama. Walking through the corridors between one room to another, a couple of friends from Saint Petersburg (Russia), were waiting for the next class. According to Andrei Nozhenko (25), and Maria Sokolova (26), coming to the festival was a nice possibility to combine their passion for the dance and to get to know the beauty of Amsterdam. “We came all the way to attend the Forró workshops because it is something we like and we have fun with. It’s certainly worth it”, says Nozhenko.

Even though the music was very loud, there was a room downstairs from where laughs and giggles could be heard. Laura Koczor (28) from Stuttgart (Germany), who has been dancing Forró for a year now, arrived one day before the festival. “I got a night train with some friends only for the festival and to get to know Amsterdam. Forró is a great dance because it contains everything: passion, joy, music and friendly people”, explains Laura. At the end of the day, the festival closed their workshops with one big dancing party. All of the 300 guests got together and danced the night away as they enjoyed their last moments of Brazilian culture in the middle of Amsterdam.

Forró is a great dance because it contains everything: passion, great music and friendly people - Laura Koczor, 28 years old, from Stuttgart, Germany


Vive l’Amsterdam Growing up with a dual nationality Text and Phoyos by Jenny Minderman

When walking trough Amsterdam, one can easily encounter different languages, all spoken by men or woman with a Dutch passport. One of these bilingual Dutchman is Patrick (37). He has a dual nationality, Dutch and French, and speaks four languages. This comes in handy during his work as a marketing advisor at an advertising agency.

CV Name Patrick

Place of birth Amsterdam

Current City Amsterdam-North

Marital status living with girlfriend Nationality Dutch and French



I clash with rude people, not with cultures Me myself and I “My father is French and my mother is Dutch. I grew up in Amsterdam-North, where I still live. I am proud of my nationalities! They say that French people are arrogant, while the French often say that bout Dutchmen. So I’m dealing with both the opinion of the French on the Dutchmen and vice versa. When thinking about the country that I call my home, I would pick Amsterdam. On the other hand, I feel more like a Frenchman. While living in Amsterdam, I should consider myself first and foremost Dutch, but I regard myself more a Frenchman. That is because people treat me different here, they don’t treat me as a Dutchman. I frequently get the question where I’m from. People think I am Moroccan. In France I blend in with the general appearance. Clashing “Personally I don’t clash with other cultures. I like the different societies in Amsterdam, it feels like home. I am used to it and don’t know any better than growing up in these different surroundings. I clash with rude people; people with bad behavior and bad manners; noisy people and those who do not take their neighbors in consideration. Their ethnicity doesn’t matter to me. I had problems with my neighbors for twenty years. They were the most anti-social neighbors that you can come across, and they were Dutch. But to focus on different nationalities in Amsterdam, I think it’s just nice to have them. It teaches you to deal with different cultures, which makes you a better person in life, I think.” Back in the days “I noticed differences at friends’ homes, for instance at the home of my Surinamese friends. However, I think in terms of education the French culture is not so different from the Dutch. My father never forced me to study the French culture but I was always curious about it. Knowing a different language is power, in my opinion. So why should you not learn another language which will always be in your favor?” France vs Amsterdam “France is, after Amsterdam, my second home. It’s where my family lives. ‘Burgundian’ lifestyle and family, that’s

how I would like to describe the French culture”. It’s different compared to here. Culture, language, dealing with people, it’s totally unlike the Dutch way of living. I think that France is more laidback than the Netherlands. One of the biggest advantages of growing up in Amsterdam is the fact that if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. I have learned to stand up for myself. It may sound a little corny but I’ve always lived on the streets. On the other hand, I’ve also studied. I’m actually at home in ‘two worlds’, meaning I can speak with the director of my company, and I can also talk with the Turkish cleaners, on their own level. French people are arrogant “I hear this quite often, almost every day. That’s only because of ignorance. When I ask why French people are arrogant, they say that it’s because French people don’t speak English. However, half of the world does not speak English! So what is the difference between a Spaniard and a Frenchman, I wonder? I might understand where it comes from. French speak up very quickly when they disagree with something, and Dutch are often less direct. But in my opinion, the way people deal with each other in France is ten times better than in the Netherlands. French are much friendlier if you speak French, or at least if you show your good will. If so, they are more than willing to help you”. National pride “Yes, I’m definitely proud of my nationalities. Like I said before, they say that the French are arrogant. That’s kind of a similar thought people have about citizens of Amsterdam. It seems that Dutchman find French people the most irritating citizens, so that says a lot”. Future “When I will have children, I won’t give them a typical Dutch education, including eating your meal at six, people coming and going on set times and serve food in anticipated portions. That is typical Dutch, habits I totally dislike. I would like it to be more welcoming and cozier. I will talk French to my children from the day they’re born, and when they are older, they can decide themselves what they want to get out of it”.


The special mill This mill and the building next to it were first used as a bathhouse. But when all houses near to the mill got their own bathroom, the bathhouse lost most of its visitors and closed. A local entrepreneur saw a chance and took it. The building was tiled and had lots of drain. Perfect for a brewery. The entrepreneur started a brewery there and called it ‘t IJ. The mill isn’t being used anymore to brew but the owner of the brewery actually lives in it.

Home is where the heart is Different living conditions in Amsterdam Text and Photos by Gijs Hoonhout


The squatter buildings Squatting is making your own living conditions by occupying an empty house. Squatters break into empty buildings and start living in them without the permission of the owner of the property. You can recognize these kind of houses by two marks. The first is the international squatting symbol and the second one is the anarchism logo. You can see both marks on the picture. In a number of squatting buildings there are cultural activities like art exhibitions or movie screenings. There even is a squatting village called Ruigoord, near Amsterdam. This village is buzzing with cultural activities.

The city centre street The row of similar houses is very typical for the city center of Amsterdam. They all have characteristic lifting beams on the façade. The lifting beams where used for centuries to lift into the building to the upper floors. These days the lifting beams are only used to move big or heavy stuff into someone’s apartment. The streets close to these buildings are more crowded and busy than the suburban neighborhood but there is a lot of urban atmosphere. The view of a busy street with someone lifting goods using a lifting beam is a typical Amsterdam sight.


22 The houseboat There are 2500 houseboats in Amsterdam. You can see them laying in the canals or in the river. They provide an alternative place to live than the normal housing on solid ground. All the houseboats are unique in their own way and often customized by their owners. There are three kinds of houseboats in general. They can be an ark, shark or living ships. The ark is a concrete hull on which a wooden, stone or plastic structure is placed. The shark is a vessel most common made of metal. These vessels are often disused boats with a structure placed on them, similar to the ark. Last but not least the living ships, these are traditional ships that aren’t being used to move around, but who have been given a residential function. Some of these houseboats even have a full grown garden in the river as you can also see on the picture.

The student housing shipping-containers The shipping containers are a perfect example of the cheap and easy housing solutions for students. Amsterdam has a housing shortage and lots of students want to move to Amsterdam when they start their study. This particular housing project is located in Amsterdam North. The containers provide housing for students who don’t care how their living conditions look like as long as they have a place to stay in Amsterdam.



We like f


International students from different parts of the globe living in Amsterdam had the big issue to cook dinners with the exactly same ingredients. The reason was to see what kind of dishes they were able to prepare and what they really eat in their countries. Check the video out and choose your favorite one to make at home.






JUST ART Text and photos by Manoela Tomasi

Amsterdam is filled with art from famous artists. The works from Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer, Piet Mondrian and Vincent van Gogh have claimed their place in the capital of The Netherlands. The reason for the success of these artists is a result of their discovered distinctiveness during the Golden Age. The styles of paintings have in some way influenced the next generation of artists. Nowadays, art cannot only be found in museums and galleries, but also on the streets. Besides relating to paintings, this street art includes a variety of ideas, either handmade or machine-made. All with a different concept but the same role: to surprise and attract the audience.

Why? Because today, everything with an original twist and quality can be considered art. Amsterdam has more than thirty galleries, all offering both old and new objects, 3D drawings, photography and other distinctive works that are not common in the mind of an average art lover. However, visitors often pay a high price for beholding this original art, as both the artists and the galleries receive an amount of money. For those who prefer buying art directly from the artist, there are the outdoor markets. One of the most famous markets can be found at Het Spui, which has been in the heart of Amsterdam

for twenty-five years. From March until December, 25 talented Dutch and international artists gather up every Sunday to expose their work. They are part of a team of 60 artists, who exhibit with a rotating system. According to one of the 73 year old organizers of the market and Dutch artist Gerard Carbo, the main idea is to offer art for those who can’t afford buying work at the galleries. Besides this, the group of artists want to facilitate the contact between tourists and Amsterdam art. “We are located at one of the most popular places in the city, thousands of tourists pass by daily. Everyone can behold our work”, explains the artist.



ART In her opinion, the art from the streets is different than those in galleries. “Galleries try to exceed each other. The work from the street is based on circumstances and actualities, all happening in the city itself. It doesn’t have to be different or surprising. Both tourists and Dutch civilians come here, expecting traditional elements that represent the city.” Even though most of the artists at the market are Dutch, the group welcomes internationals from all over the world. One of them is Paulo Ferreira, a Brazillian who has been living in Amsterdam for

seven years. In his opinion, there is no prejudice about his work. “When I was young, my mother used to say that the division of the world was a geographical and political issue, so I should make myself at home everywhere”. For him, the market is like a theatre. “People are here to have fun. I feel like I am part of that fun.” Ferreira also discovered a downside from the market. He finds that, due to the touristic popularity, artists tend to create ‘popular art’. “Sometimes artists have to make art that sells. I, on the other hand, don’t consider my-

self a creator of popular art. After three different art schools teaching me about other’s art, I realized I started using their skills. The day of that realization was the day I quit school. I want to do whatever I feel like doing,” Ferreira pointed out. In spite of the fact that Amsterdam offers a big amount of famous paintings, modern artists have found their way to create their own tourist atwtraction. They have the chance to reveal their work to an international audience and to have fun with the art that they create.

The day I realized I started copying other artists was the day I quit school. I want to do whatever I feel like doing. - Paulo Ferreira, painter from Belo Horizonte, Brasil

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