The evening got off to a difficult start. The cantus should have been started half an hour ago, however there were still loads of students standing outside the Ahoy in the rain.  By eight o’clock some partygoers started getting irritated by the long queues. In the queue on the left, the one for invitees, a student in a red jumper holding a cigarette tried to push in, annoying the student in front of him: “What d’yer think you’re doing?” she snarled. “We’ve all got to wait!” A student with an ACE jumper supported her: “Patience, patience. We’ll all be inside soon.”

Beer cantus 2021
Students in queues before entering the cantus Image credit: Milena Chopova

Within Ahoy the group of guide Napon Saereepapsakol had already been sitting at one of the long tables since 7.00 pm. “We came at 6.30 pm and were at the front of the queue. So we were lucky!” they explained proudly. An hour later, there’s not much feeling of pride left. First year Adrian Hangartner sighed, “Jeez, how long do we have to wait before the party starts?” Then loudly: “WHERE’S THE PARTY?”

Two-hour delay

At exactly 9.00 pm when a Eurekaweek board member announced that the party was about to start, the joy surges throughout the hall. There are still dozens of empty tables and still groups waiting in line outside but that’s no reason to wait any longer. After the Wilhelmus and Trink, Trink, Bruderlein Trink, the cantus band Bracchus really got the party going with Sweet Caroline and Het regent zonnestralen.

Students with happy faces all joined in singing. One of them is Puck de Waal, Vice-chair of the Rotterdam Federation of Student Associations (RKvV). She explained that she’d never been to a cantus before. “So I’m really enjoying this evening. I can’t sing a note but who cares?!” she laughed.

Stay in your seat

The later it becomes, the more exuberant the party gets. The pitchers are emptied in no time and the singing gets way louder. The band’s rendition of Piano Man takes the five thousand students into a trance-like state and when the legendary Mama Mia starts, the whole hall of first years sings along at the top of their lungs. Even more fun than watching singing first years dancing on their chairs, was the ever futile attempts of the Eurekaweek board to keep the students under control: “Sit down!”, “Don’t stand on the seats, get down!”, “Don’t walk around, your guide will fetch your beer!” they shouted constantly.

Inge a.k.a. Casey and ‘the guys’. Image credit: Milena Chopova

Business Administration student Inge van Hill was sitting nicely on her chair. She said that she’s lucky with her group. “I’m in a group with sixteen boys and I’m the only girl”, she stated. “So the guys have given me a new name. It’s Casey, a boy’s name, so now I’m one of the guys,” she explained. Isn’t that annoying? “No, not at all. In fact, that’s my new name from now on. I’m Casey, pleased to meet you!”

Forgiven but not forgotten

Around 11.00 pm, when the evening seems just like old times, the students ignore the rules and create a dance floor. Beer glasses were flying around the hall. One board member takes to the stage and threatens to end the party if the first years don’t behave. “Booooo,” comes the reaction from the room. A few minutes later the crowd manages to control itself and the band continues with the next song.

Unfortunately the first years can’t take the song Je hoeft niet naar huis vannacht (you don’t need to go home tonight, red.) too literally as the band then starts its final number I will survive. Some students think they can’t survive without cantus and call out “We want more!” hundreds of times. And of course, the band rewards them with the classic as encore: het Rotterdamlied.

Outside the first years walk around in the afterglow of the cantus. “Even though we had to wait an hour in the rain it was still worth it,” stated one student. “Should we go to my house? We can keep partying. I’ve got a fridge full of beer!” suggested a member of his group.

All the misery of waiting is forgiven, but it will be long time before they forget this evening.