I had to laugh a little bit the other night when I watched the Dutch 4x100-meter women's swimming team clinch the gold medal, because as the swimmers celebrated, I couldn't help but think about one of my favorite memories from the Athens Games.
The Holland House.
The Holland House was a large outdoor structure set up in Athens that served as the home of a massive party every night. Imagine the hottest club in New York City. Now picture it being outside. There is still a line wrapped around the block to get in, and instead of hard liquor, the only thing being served is Heineken.
Fast-forward to a group of orange maniacs jumping around, celebrating for any number of reasons, especially when a Dutch athlete turns in a great performance. Frenzy. That was what the scene was like every night at the Holland House, and I am certain there was a gigantic party there on Sunday, especially considering it had been 72 years since the Dutch had won that relay race.
After work each night in Greece, my friends and I would walk over to the Holland House to see what was going on. Luckily for us, because we were credentialed media members, we could skip the line and walk right in. The Holland House was the place to be.
It was not unusual to see athletes from other countries hanging out at the Holland House. It was an escape for everybody. Aside from slugging down copious amounts of Heineken, people also had the opportunity to send video e-mails to their friends and family. I can still remember hearing my mom's panicked voice on the phone, asking me why something called a FIMMJE (the name of the video e-mail) had appeared in my dad's in-box.
Although the first Holland House actually opened at the '92 Olympics in Barcelona, it still felt like a well-kept secret to us in Athens. In the last few years though, the Holland House has come to even more prominence, especially at the most recent Winter Games in Turin.
Now that the secret is out, I'm sure that the Holland House in Beijing, will be the happening spot once again at these '08 Games.
First photo via Getty Images
Second photo via my personal collection