In de Smitse reopened at 4 pm yesterday. The bar quickly went from zero to a hundred within minutes: the sounds of laughter, glasses clinking in cheers, and chatter were all around.
While dozens of students were waiting in line, inside, the board members were working as fast as a beehive to set the coasters, organise the drinks and clean the tables. In a rare moment of freedom from the chaos, Mart Soetekouw, chairman of the board, explained that this student-run initiative is led completely by volunteers to provide drinks for students. “We connect every student on campus to meet here.” The board changes every year with five new board members. The bar was last open in November 2021 due to coronavirus.
“We are very excited to open again, although sometimes it is hard to comply with all the measures, like social distancing and maximum capacity”, Mart explains. Even with all the rules, the board is ready to face them all if it means they can bring back the atmosphere. “We are looking forward to the future when more restrictions ease and it eventually feels normal.” Vera Breijer, internal affairs officer, describes the new sense of unfamiliarity: “It’s also a bit weird, all the people standing there waiting to come in; but it’s good I was a bit worried that there wouldn’t be enough people on campus to come join.”
“We had a session two weeks ago, just in case we were opening, we didn’t think it would be that soon – which helped us now”, Vera says. The team gathered all of their supplies and headed straight to the abandoned bar and cleaned it up as much as they could. Everyone was eager for the opening.
Lots of members were running errands the whole day to ensure the opening would start promptly. Five members were passing glasses at lightning speed between each other, with their cheeks flushed.
As per measures, the doors opened with a member scanning everyone’s CoronaCheck App to turn the screen green. Cafe In de Smitse finally felt alive again. The first person who entered, Jose Marquez, raised his fists in the air, grinning under his mask, exclaimed ‘finally!’, and the thumping beats began. The master student explained his relief: “I’m just happy, for a really long time I felt like nothing was open, everything was closed, even during Christmas break, we didn’t even have class.”
His peer, Thijs, shared the same sentiment. “Socializing at a bar is way different than doing it at home, it’s just the ambience, it’s not the same.” The two sipped on their beers in happy spirits. Tom, an economics student, also chimed in. “We had little parties in student housing, but this is way better, drinking from a tap is different”, he said smiling.