Finally another festival - without masks and rules of distance: "Everyone is tested, right?"

Finally another festival – without masks and rules of distance: “Everyone is tested, right?”

The reins are celebrated at the first open-air festival in a year and a half. The audience of one and a half thousand is allowed to act as they like during this Fieldlab Test event. So he falls into each other’s arms and fills up the dance floor.

It’s as if the audience is walking into a Madurodam version of a festival, on Saturday afternoon at Biddinghuizen in Flevoland. The gigantic events area, where festivals like the Lowlands or Defqon are held at happier times, looks like an empty plain with a small group of buildings and hence something of human activity. Such a flowering plant in the desert: a sign of survival.

Back to Live is of course also: one of Fieldlab’s last experiences, where for the first time one can experience this important Dutch cultural thing. Real festival. With only one stage tent and outdoor platform, two bars, three rotating kitchens, and toilets. But also a real group of eight famous DJs, and 1,500 dance fans in – because the first Dutch open-air festival in a year and a half is dedicated to pure dance music. Another pop festival will follow on Sunday at the same site.

Some objects stand out at the entrance. Ticket buyers are looking forward to it, of course: at one o’clock, the agreed start time, everyone is there. There are no late because no one wants to miss a minute of a miracle. Sentiment also starts early. Just before the entrance, a group of friends took out a bottle of kava. As if some kind of reclamation was announced on the site, this is not the case. “You don’t know these days,” says a boy, trying to open two bottles of beer. “Maybe you have a lighter with you?”

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Moments of connection

Back to Live is an interesting experience from the Fieldlab series. As with previous editions in theaters and football stadiums, of course, extensive research is being done, particularly into audience behavior and “moments of connection”. And at the entrance again, a list of documents should be displayed: negative covid test results for example, which can also be scanned as qr code in a special application for the first time.

A festival visitor undergoes a covid test. Everyone tested before and after the festival.Photo by Marcel van den Berg / De Volkskrant

But at this dance festival, the reins are fully celebrated: once it’s performed and proven safe, the audience can do whatever it wants. Unlike previous Fieldlabs, no more bubbles are set up with separate audience groups. However, on the eve of what would usually be a new festival season, this quiz offers a glimpse of what we can expect at events this summer, with the freedom of movement that comes with the festival.

In this free state, festival-goers look at each other uncomfortably. Then the masks are removed, and the one and a half meters are also thrown directly over the fence. Fans of concerts and festivals have often been concerned about the nightlife culture after Corona last year. Would it be normal again to be close to each other, in a moshpit in front of the stage or on a sweaty dance floor? Or will our new remote behavior be static and cause some kind of long-term communication anxiety?

If Back to Live Saturday makes anything clear, you don’t have to worry about it anymore. Nikki Elizabeth’s cheerful DJ set is already arriving: the dance floor is full, arms are raised in the air and everyone is pushing against each other. And not only on the dance floor, but also in bars and toilets. Nobody here has coronavirus, that’s the idea. About ten of the ticket buyers who tested positive for the virus did not pass the gate, so what will you do with the masks and a meter and a half ?!


The elbow salutation can also be thrown on the street: people fall into each other’s arms the old-fashioned way. “Everyone was tested, right?” Say two hugs. “So yes.” The quick backlash gives the audience a preview of the festival’s near future, and who knows, a new test and anti-vaccine community. And although there are many objections to such a community: For a festival, sporting party or group concert, for example, the newly tested CoronaCheck app looks like a solution.

DJ Rainier Sonneveld:
DJ Rainier Sonneveld: “I think everyone here feels they have experienced something special”.Photo by Marcel van den Berg / De Volkskrant

Also because it helped the culture in the end. Live music and dance are also there thanks to interaction with the audience: every beat without an audience falls onto the dance floor. As DJ Joris Voorn Saturday Track Obsession inmixt, a thousand and a half people burst under a hail of scraps of paper: it’s like aphids from heaven. This energy cannot be compared to anything. Music simply needs an audience.

This is what the conclusion of the festival says, Reinier Sönneveld, after being placed in the big but now cold tent with snow. On-Demand DJ and Art Producer faced an empty schedule for the past year. So I started working on myself and creating a lot of new tracks. But the problem was, I couldn’t test it in an audience. You don’t know how Drop It falls into rhythm so you can launch it right onto the dance floor. That was finally possible again. This is very important for dancing. This is also why, says Sonneveld, this experience was again very impressive, but also historic. “I think everyone here feels they have experienced something special.”

Visitors to the Back to Live Festival were the first group to test a new app on Saturday: the CoronaCheck app from the Department of Health, Welfare and Sports (VWS). In the negative corona test, before the festival, people can enter a code converted by the app into a qr code on the phone screen after performing a scan. This code can then be scanned at the entrance to the festival website. The idea is that the app will soon be useful to access sports festivals and competitions, as well as restaurants or museums, for example. At the end of March, a bill will be sent to the House of Representatives to enable the use of this app.

The app appears to be a solution for various sectors, but CoronaCheck also raises resistance. Although the manufacturer says user data is safe, there are privacy concerns. For example, the civil rights organization Bits of Freedom fears increasing inequality and exclusion in society.

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