Stone Monkeys discovered in Amsterdam

by Jenny Day

You can't really dance in another country without at least making an effort to speak some of their language. When Stone Monkey were invited to dance at the Mad Maids Morris Weekend, a quick fax to one of my customers in the Netherlands produced a four-line translation saying who the team were, thanks for the invite, etc. etc. After much spitting and grunting over the phone to our Australian/Dutch son-in-law we had a reasonable, phonetic version. (Paul said you needed to have smoked 40 woodbines a day for 20 years and have bad catarrh to make a really good job of it.)

We thought we were going to Utrecht, but discovered it was really Oosterbek near Arnhem. This involved a train/taxi, one ticket straight through. The Dutch public services are brilliant. We were based at the ‘Stay Okay’ hostel with coaches to take us round on Saturday. There were six English teams and two Dutch, and it was obvious from the first evening that the Maids liked to dress up (or down). On the Friday evening they appeared dressed as nuns and introduced the rest of the teams, most of whom seemed to have prepared a short ‘turn.’ Monkey, who knew nothing of this, were obliged to look embarrassed and sat down as sooon as they could. The dance spots on Saturday included two castles (chateau type country houses) and a windmill heritage centre. The dancing surfaces were mainly gravel, pebbles or grass, but a café with a stone floor and a wooden floor in the bar improved the day's dancing somewhat.

On the Saturday evening the Maids again went into dressing up mode. Several appeared in swimming costumes whilst preparing the meal and ? ? appeared in a T-shirt which caused great merriment among her Dutch friends and enlightened the rest of us as to the origin of the expression ‘nookey.’ It then became obvious what she was offering! A ceilidh followed the meal, the Maids showing us their version of a mumming play – different language, similar script. On the Sunday we danced at the Dutch equivalent of Beamish – the National Outdoor Museum of Netherlands Heritage. We had a great time, the Dutch were really friendly, the weather was good and the Netherlands a very attractive country.