Back to normal eh? Eh?

I can’t honestly work out if I feel happy or tense about this Big Reopening we are encouraged to join in with. I’m chuffed that we can start programming film, art and live streams (for example some live drum and bass gigs-cum-broadcasts in late June and early July, and a screening of the acclaimed French underground classic flick, Le Camion on the 17th). So that’s great. But going to the pub still feels weirdly early to me. Open we must, on Monday June 1st, though, starting with our German-themed boozer, the #Wunderbar.

But there is a feeling of being tugged both ways, emotionally. It’s like what Howard Devoto once said. (Ask your parents).

Back to nature

I can’t go on like this

I want to walk where the power is

Back to nature

I don’t know where to start

Back to nature

I don’t have that kind of heart

Given the fact we are a multidisciplinary arts organisation, identifying, confirming and then communicating the correct rules for some government approved fun this week has been a mindfuck for all of us. In terms of our pub, it seems WORM can safely deal with 25 people – staff and punters in the building, with about another 20 on the terrace – at any one time.

Despite us being (for my money anyway) one of the friendliest and most forward thinking places in all of the Randstad (name me another city centre hostelry that hourly plays the likes of Cluster, Cooly G and Trash Kit), the initial rules sound a bit grim. You reserve online in advance and then get 90 minutes to quaff liquids and then move on. Enjoyment must be partaken at a safe distance at all times. If you’re not sneezing or coughing that is. If I can descend into referencing old British TV to make a point, working and drinking in the bar for the next month or so will probably be a weird mixture of Hi-de-Hi and The Prisoner. (Ask your grandparents). But what can you do?  I hope the punters really neck some ale, so it’s worth it.

My PR team made a video that says a lot and very little at all. What the fuck else can we do:

I’ve always been proud of the fact that WORM, snotty, funny, messy and loud, has been a noticeably scruffy presence in the centre of an increasingly gentrified city centre. Now I’m a wee bit worried. If you know Rotterdam at all you will know that the street WORM is situated on, the funky and increasingly touristy Witte de Withstraat, is an absolute magnet for wandering crowds. We get the lot: boy racers and hatch-back poseurs, demonstrators, street urchins, wankered Feyenoord fans, arty groovers (all wearing black, because that is Rotterdam), middle class slummers in tracky bottoms and bewildered tourists on a day out looking for a Starbucks to feel safe in. Basically the street in summer is packed with bodies. 

And it’s sunny, hot and – like the UK – people feel torn between an understandable caution about the spread of a disease that has hit this country hard and a desire to get out and groove. The Dutch love baking in the sun. They like to “take it easy”, sitting on their collective arse on a terrace. I can’t deny I’ve been dreaming of cool pints of draft ale slowly winding down my windpipe; even more frequently than those where my darling wife is wearing her best trouser suit. For its part, the government seems to be resigned to doing what it can as the disease slowly, incrementally works its way through the country. And hoping the second wave will be a squib not a crash. There are noticeably more planes in the sky and young kids are back at school. Public transport is gearing up again, but you have to wear a mask. To be fair to them – and in contrast to the cummings and goings on Mental Island – premier Mark Rutte followed the rules and didn’t visit his mother who recently died. A terrible, tough, admirable action. Let’s see what happens overall. 

Oh yeah… what of this new creative world we recently stumbled into? I’m no fan of online-only events but to quote Mr Cohen, there are cracks, where the light gets in. We’ve done some interesting online things at WORM this last 3 months; the recent online project The Collectivity Project looked to engage ideas around creating new urban environments. A colleague made a proposal for a new collective landscape out of crisps (I have to ask her what that was all about, but it’s sure to be enlightening). Then there’s IMACO, an artistic relay where one artist creates a performance to an article they leave to a following artist who picks it up a week later (in total isolation, of course) and so on. These weird, ill-fitting, essentially human responses to making things at a distance are what WORM is about.

Stick in there, Richard.

Richard Foster