Mr Gay Europe 2019 Alexander Petrov was invited on board the Miss Netherlands boat during Amsterdam Pride. Enrique Doleschy, previous titleholder and now MGE team member came along for the ride, and the boys had a really good time. Here is Alexanders report.
Truly not very many things can compare to this experience. So, it all started with Enrique telling me that the white dress code for the boat meant all white. I did not bring any white pants and no way in hell could I squeeze into the extra pair that Enrique had.
So I devised a plan to get up early the next day and storm a nearby H&M the moment it opened and quickly grab a pair. In the morning I was on point and come 10 o’clock I was granted safe entry by the nice personnel at the store. No such luck, nada.
They had nothing. A cascading chain of events happened in the next hour, where I got directed from store to store, because they either did not have any white shorts or they had 2-3 leftover pairs, all not quite right for my wide derrière. An hour later and at least 10 store locations of fruitless shop-hopping, Zara came to the rescue with a nice generic pair of shorts. Who knew that finding a nice white bottom in Amsterdam would be so hard!
Because this took longer than expected, me and Enrique had to rush the beautifying procedures when I came back. It was much needed, because we were going on a boat with many misses and misters and we had to look comparable at the very least.
We rushed into an Über that dropped us off near the port where me and Enrique were to board our boat. It was a really windy day, and my Mr Gay Europe sash was holding on for dear life not to be blown away and into the canals.
The dock was a colourful explosion of fabrics, feathers, glitter and themes, as various crew members were awaiting their assigned boarding times. The Miss Nederland crew was slowly starting to form. The dress code required the misses and misters to serve a head-to-toe-white realness, as the remaining passengers wore fuchsia colored Hannah Be-You-Tiful shirts. Combined, we were a vanilla-strawberry ice-cream fantasy.
We met with the gorgeous Roel van der Bas and Leila Aigbedion (previous year’s title-holders), and finally with the current Miss Netherlands – the stunning Sharon Pieksma.
At first, I thought they might be more reserved and standoffish due to their titles, but they quickly proved to be down to earth, approachable, fun, goofy and not scared to look silly. We were pleasantly surprised by the inclusion and diversity of Hannah and Miss Nederland as we met some of the other misses and misters that included a trans woman, a woman in her 50’s and a drag queen.
Boarding our boat, we had to walk over the river bridge, while the ING boat passed us underneath. They had a space themed float with about 50 employees of theirs performing a per-rehearsed choreography to a disco remix of popular dance songs, dressed in a variety of silver clothing and visors.
They had every imaginable age, shape and color on that boat, and although they widely varied in terms of their choreography execution, it all looked extremely fun. I was ready to jump ship right there and then.
We finally reached our Miss Nederland boat. It had pink fabric all around it, resembling a dress, and on the deck we had a runway for all the misses and misters to strut their stuff.
As the boat embarked, one of the Be-You-Tiful girls, (she was the drill-sergeant ringleader for the boat, but later on became really fun and down, once she got some of the on-board wine in her) gave us a simple dance routine that we had to do after passing under a bridge; some easy hand dancing for the fuchsia people and some cat-walking for the misses and misters, followed by a performance from one of the 3 guest singers.
The song we did our dancing and strutting to was “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys. By the end of the 35 bridges we had to cross under, I was really burning up with a fever from that song.
At first, I was super nervous, as I’ve never walked a catwalk in my life. I was afraid to look awkward, out of place and boring compared to the other guys and girls. A few cups of liquid courage and a dose of “fuck it” later, and I was gliding down the catwalk, trying to switch it up every time, thinking I’m the shit.
Obviously I was crap, but I wasn’t gonna let myself think about it. I remember how at some point towards the end one of the crew members, well beyond tipsy, pulled me over and said “With every time you are getting better and better!” like I was a small toddler trying to ride a bike without his training wheels, falling head first but then learning and upgrading to just falling to the sides. Whatevz, I gave it my drunken best.
At some point we got bombarded with free ice-cream on a stick from one of the bystander boats. That was their way of saying “We love you” to the people on the canal floats. Obviously, I managed to procure one ice-cream for myself and quickly gobbled it before the next bridge. And those bridges all varied in size and length.
Some held people that we could touch as we passed, some were so small and low that we had to lay down and contort on the podium so we wouldn’t get hit by the railings, instantly emerging gorgeous at the end of it so we could start over our “Girl on Fire” catwalk. The headliner of the catwalk was this super cut black guy, wearing a fab tribal themed feather, fur and bead type of costume, with a large headdress. Boy did he do serious work on that podium being the first one on after every single bridge drop.
From the looks of it, he was loving every minute. I think we missed a few tunnels, so we all just jumped on the catwalk and started dancing, twerking and dropping it down-low to some Beyoncé beats. That freestyle part was one of the best things, because we all had already indulged in some libations and were not afraid to just let loose and have some silly fun on the podium.
And not to forget the tireless scarlet angels of the AidsFond that were floating around the edges of the canals, sticking up their long butterfly nets gathering donations from the general public for their good fight against HIV in places where it’s direly needed.
Being on the boat and partaking in everything that was happening there was fun, be-you-tiful, and awesome. The Miss Nederland and Hannah crew members were warm, accommodating and awesome.
Another awesome thing was all the bystanders and the love and profuse positive energy they were emitting. Mothers, fathers, children, old and young, queer and undefined, straight and gay; everybody was there and having fun, together, bearing no judgment or reproach in their hearts and minds. Seeing them, seeing everything there, gives you this sense of lightness and never felt before freedom. Especially for a guy from Eastern Europe.
Some of the bystanders did themes on their smaller boats like – all leopard prints, all high-heels, wearing crazy cartoon wigs, Baywatch and others. I even saw the Gay Pope and some chicks with balloon dicks. Oh, and there were a looooot of boobs everywhere. Most of them had tassels or stickers over their areolas, but on one balcony, there were these two old ladies, that were letting us have their gravity strained tatas, by swinging them back and forth and in a sexually cartoon’ish way massaging them. Boy did I get more than I paid for.
After four hours of catwalking, dancing, waving, cheering, laughing and soaking up positive energy from benevolent strangers, the boat ride was coming to an end. A gate looking office building marked the end of the pride canal route. All the remaining food and wine was given away to the crew members as we disembarked the boat. Somehow me and Enrique ended up with 4 bottles of wine. Then we found out that one of the ladies on the boat produced all of the wine and she was happy to share the fruits of her labour with us.
In summary, Amsterdam canal pride on a boat is a one of a kind experiences that will overload you with positivity, excitement and fun. Must have. Recommend. Buy one in every colour.