Officially, the party has already started, but the garlands still need to be hung. The monthly drinks party of Erasmus Pride, the university’s LGBTQI+ student association, has a pink touch today. The official name is the ‘Pink Pretty Pillow Princess and Prince Party’. So what is a Pillow Princess exactly? Louka (21, International Bachelor’s in Communication and Media) giggles. “It’s a term from lesbian culture and refers to women who just want to lie back during sex and make little effort themselves. Is that me? Absolutely not!”
Last year, she just happened to end up at one of the association’s drinks parties while she was on a gap year. “I never left. Once, I met someone who was taking the IBCoM programme, and that seemed doable to me. It’s a broad, creative study programme that you can do a lot of different things with, so I ended up enrolling.” She enjoys coming to the drinks parties to chat and, if possible, to dance. “At the end of the evening, the tables get moved aside. Until Thank you for the music is played at top volume at about 1 in the morning, then we have to head home.” She adds, “The drinks parties give you a good excuse to get all dressed up.”
The pink garlands are now also adorning the glass facade of VINN, which is located at the bottom of the Groot Handelsgebouw and is the regular location for the Pride drinks parties. Dewi (18, on a gap year) is knocking back a pink beer for the occasion. “I don’t like beer, but this is nice and sweet.” She is there with her friend Sam (19, International Bachelor’s in Arts and Culture Studies), who she knows from secondary school. “I’m his plus one. This is the second time I’ve come to one of these events with him. The people are very sociable and open. It’s easy to talk to people here.” She usually does not go out that much. “It also feels a bit more intimate than going to a club.” She is expecting an evening with ‘plenty of pink’. “And I might meet some new people too. After all, an outfit can always spark a new conversation.”
Hip and happening
Sam got to know the association during the Eurekaweek and then ended up at one of the drinks parties. “I liked it so much that I became a member right away. It’s an open group, they’re a lot of fun and I’m having a great time drinking and talking.” He does not expect there will be any dancing. “Perhaps if the music gets a bit more hip and happening.” At this point, the music is varying between hits by Abba and Lady Gaga.
According to Jelle (20, History), we’re hearing their own playlist. “But I can’t be sure about that.” Tonight, he feels like catching up with friends. “Depending on how busy it is and how much I’ve had to drank, I might dance too.”
The association has about 50 members who regularly come to events, says Jelle. “Last year, I was on the board as vice-chair, and we went from 100 to 200 members.” He also got to know the association during the Eurekaweek. “I’ve also been to a few of the bigger clubs, like RSG, but they don’t suit me as well. If it hadn’t been for Erasmus Pride, I wouldn’t have joined anything. The people here are very accepting. That’s why we also have a large group of straight girls and a few straight boys as members. They love the atmosphere and the openness – it’s a bit more alternative. It’s harder to find that with other associations.”
Free to be yourself
Eli (30, Business Economics) feels it is a missed opportunity that he didn’t discover Erasmus Pride in his younger years as a student. “It’s great that you can really be yourself here. We did have a study association, but it was white, arrogant and cliquey. I think it’s great that this exists, since it’s helping to bring Erasmus a step closer to becoming an inclusive university, which it really isn’t yet.” He joined last week. “They were handing out flyers, and I was given a condom outside the L building.”
It’s currently quite busy inside, with about 20 members and their guests. Some people have gone all out and put together some fantastic outfits, from three-piece prince suits to pink princess dresses.
Zofia Staszewska (20, Management of International Social Challenges), chair of the association, kept it simple with a lilac top. “I expected to have more pink items in my wardrobe, but no….” Erasmus Pride is more than just a social club, she emphasises. “We’re working closely with the university to make the campus more inclusive and diverse. Such as gender-neutral toilets, for example.” She is happy to see new faces here tonight. “I’ll do my best to involve them in our community. We are the only LGBTQI+ student association in Rotterdam and have been around for 10 years already. That gives us a special history and legacy.” For example, the association has members from all over the Netherlands. “We are not only here for Erasmus students, but for anyone who wants to be a member of our queer community.”
Grace (23, creative business) is studying in Breda, for example. “An ex introduced me, and I’m still a member. I like the social contacts, and I’d love to go bowling together soon.” She’s not looking for someone to flirt with. “It wasn’t that long ago that I split up with my ex; I’m taking things slowly. But I know that other people are definitely here to date.” Around 11 pm, it’s quite busy inside, but for the time being, nobody is dancing. Instead, people are having a great time chatting away and laughing.