Whenever I hear music from DJ Tiësto, I am back in my hotel in Athens. It’s 2004 and it’s my first Olympic Games.
I have a lot of incredible memories when it comes to Olympic sport experiences. But I have to say that this musical experience in Athens also brings back a huge smile on my face. We found a room in a hotel just 200 meters from the, then unknown, Holland Heineken House (HHH). A few days after his performance during the opening ceremony with an audience of a few hundred million, DJ Tiësto gave, in my opinion, an even more sizzling performance at the HHH. 500 people were there. This too is an ultimate Olympic Fan Feeling!
The Holland Heineken House.
What is the HHH and how did it start? During the Games in Barcelona’92, both the Dutch National Olympic Organisation (NOC-NSF) and the famous Dutch Brewer Heineken came up with the idea of creating a meeting place for fans ánd athletes. The success of this idea in Barcelona led to an HHH at every Olympic Games since then. It’s a must-go. For the Dutch fans of course, but also for the athletes themselves! In addition, it became a big hit among fans from other countries; “the HHH as thé place to party” at every Games!
Athletes are also huge sportsfans
What is great about the concept is that the athletes and fans celebrate successes together. The athletes that win a medal (no matter what colour) are invited and cheered in a medal ceremony in the HHH in the evening. This has delivered many emotional moments. Unique and lasting memories for the athletes. For example, take the crowd surfing hockey ladies (gold in 2008 and 2012) or Dafne Schippers that cried after her silver medal in the 200 meters in Rio’16. They all will never forget the moment they stood on the stage at the HHH.
What makes it especially vibrant is the fact that these medal ceremonies often take place on the same day of the athlete’s performance. The adrenaline is still pumping through the veins of both athletes and fans. After their sporting activities, good or less fortunate, the athletes transform on the spot into “ordinary” fans, looking for their own Olympic Fan Feeling.
So, we saw many Dutch athletes enjoying themselves on the dancefloor in the HHH. Some still high from their golden medals, like Marianne Vos in Beijing’08. Some washing away an Olympic deception with a beer.
Bring on the music
From 2004 onwards, with the DJ Tiësto’s performance, a new phenomenon was added. Artists from the Netherlands were flown in to give mini concerts. This gave the fans a further boost. I have been privileged to have seen many ‘HHH’ musical performances, including Roel van Velzen, Guus Meeuwis, Xander De Buisonje, Andre Hazes Jr., DI-RECT, Douwe Bob and many many others. But also, if you don’t know the Dutch performers. The ambiance is absolutely thrilling!
The farther away the Games, the finer the atmosphere in the HHH. In Beijing and Sochi, the HHH was still quite intimate with around 500-700 people per evening. Maximum. You could speak to the athletes themselves and congratulate them on their performance or try to cheer them up after a deception. Walking around among the athletes gave my Olympic Fan Feeling a huge extra boost.
However, one negative side effect of the success of the HHH is that it has become increasingly commercial over the years. With the London Games ’12 as the least interesting one (for me!). Around 90% (my estimation) of the people present had not even attended an Olympic event, but mainly came to party. Well, that gives a different atmosphere.
My expectation for Japan is that this commercial side will continue to be there, but the huge distance from the Netherlands (just like in Rio, Sochi & Beijing) will lead to the presence of mostly ‘real’ fans Those who come purely for the sport. The capacity will undoubtedly be geared to this. That will benefit the atmosphere!
A unique experience
The HHH remains however an absolute Must Go. I have seen many smiling faces from non-Dutch fans who also came over for an evening. The HHH became often thé place to be in the evening. And so, I have spent evenings talking with Canadians about Ice Hockey (Sochi) or discussing the Bolt and Schippers phenomenon with Jamaican fans.
There are several countries that have organized a similar ‘’country house’’, often with athletes and their families. And often with only limited access to fans. Moreover, no one yet surpasses the atmosphere of the Holland Heineken House (although I will try to enter the Jamaica house again.).
Where is the party?
In short, your ultimate Olympic Fan Feeling is not complete without at least one evening at the HHH.
The exact location has not yet been announced by Heineken, but it will be in the BAY ZONE. You will, however, have to buy tickets (in Athens ’04 you could just enter with a (Dutch) passport). The ticket sale will start soon via the mentioned link below. When planning, pay attention to the Dutch medal contesters, because an HHH without a medal ceremony would be like arriving 4th in an Olympic Fan Event.