Dingdong! Someone opens the door. ‘Welcome to Stukafest! Come in. You’re on time, would you like something to drink?’ ‘Or eat?’ someone asks from the kitchen. We enter a living room where the roommates are still having dinner (quiche), while the artist is installing his keyboard next to a fishbowl. The typical sight of Stukafest.
Stukafest is a Dutch abbreviation for the Student Room Festival (Studenten Kamer Festival). This festival is organised in several cities in the Netherlands, amongst which - of course - Groningen. Student rooms are used as mini-concert halls, mini-pop stages or mini-theatres. The night consists of three rounds and in between you can switch to another room. There’s a big variety of performances: from Swedish Indiepop to Flemish cabaret and from the Northern Netherlands Theatre Company to beautiful poetry. If your Dutch isn’t that good, you can just go to the many musical performances Stukafest offers. Everything is taken care of: you can start the night with a Stukameal and finish with the Stukaparty.
What’s so special about this festival, is the (stuka-)atmosphere. While sitting on the bed of a complete stranger – who just gave you a piece of carrot cake and a beer – and watching an unknown pop band, you realise that you are in an unusual, but nice, situation. The crowdconsists mainly of Groninger hipsters (including beards of course), but there were also a couple of giggling elderly women and curious ‘stadjers’ (people from Groningen who aren’t students). And if we had replied with ‘yes’ to every beer that was offered to us, we probably wouldn’t have made it to the third round.
The first act we visited was the Flemish comedian Pieter Verelst. Since he had won the Groninger Student Cabaret Festival, he was invited to perform at Stukafest. Despite his wobbly and cheap keyboard – a piano didn’t fit in the room unfortunately – he gave an impressive performance. We spent round two at the Nothern Netherlands Theatre Company. They gave us a preview of their play ‘Who of the twelve’: a murder is committed and the crowdis the judge. Who is guilty?
At the end we went relaxing at Sväva, a dreampop band from the northern part of the Netherlands. It was the perfect place to relax on the couch with a beer. ‘But if you want one, you have to say it now. Otherwise the band will stand in the kitchen and I won’t be able to open the fridge any more.’
Filled with cultural impressions and carrot cake we cycled home. On our way we saw several signs with the Stukafest logo plastered on houses. We will certainly make our rooms available next year. Not only because of that magical sign, but also for the hipsters (with or without beard), giggling elderly women and top artists!
By Lucia Grijpink