Friesland: Countryside clash of cultures!

Last week I was booked for a show in ‘Friesland’, which is the most interesting rural province in the Netherlands. People from Friesland are different from ‘avarage’ Dutch people. They have unusual names and they even speak their own officially recognized language, which can absolutely not be understood by non-‘friesian’ people. They are known for their ice-skating competitions, horse bread, countryside dishes and their great, blonde appearances.

In the past Friesian people have been isolated from the rest of the Netherlands and that’s why they have a very strong specific culture. I would say that there aren’t any people on earth more distant from the Arabic culture than the Friesians.

The things I love the most about my job are clashing cultures, especially between the Dutch and the Arabs. I was excited, curious about what to expect and round eight o’clock I jumped in my car. I drove all the way, over the longest dike in the Netherlands, two hours long to a village called ‘Marsum’. I passed villages with the strangest names like “Sexbierum” which can be translated as “Sexandbeer”, which certainly has a different meaning for the Friesians.

I was hired to dance for a birthday guy, a real Friesian one. He was tall, blonde and VERY shy. For the first time in my life I danced for someone that deliberately looked away my entire show! I was dancing around him, trying to catch a glance but unfortunately, not one single move that worked. Several times he whined to his friends and family: “I am not a bachelor, it’s just my birthday, why do you do this to me?” While dancing I started to feel really sorry for him. I was asked to take the guy on the dance floor so I had to make his nightmare even worse. I used all my muscle strength to hoist the enormous guy from his decorated chair and there he stood. Exemplary I started to move my hips in a very easy way, hoping he would follow, but he didn’t. How awkward.

When my show was finished everybody seemed relieved. Right before I left a very old man grabbed my arm and asked me to pose for a picture with him. While I had my arm round his shoulder he said: “Da ken ge nie samar he da bukdunsje.” Which can be translated from the Friesian language as: “That must not be easy to learn, bellydancing”. He was the father of the birthday guy and he had loved my performance.

I’m glad the birthday guy will have a photo to remember the present that was given to him, though with his old father on it.





About Sarah Raks

I am a bellydancer from the Netherlands.
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