Oranje Fever and Dutch Fans

The streets run orange with confetti, the cobblestones are sticky with beer, hordes of oompa-loompa-like people mob the streets performing bizarre dance rituals, and red, white and blue stripes are ceremoniously painted onto cheeks. The townspeople shrink to the sides of the pavement; some peek through their apartment windows. The whole town is awash with hushed whispers: “the Dutch fans have arrived.”

Over one-million Dutchies call themselves football-players – and even more are die-hard supporters. So when the Netherlands takes part in international competitions, right behind the tour-bus will be a caravan of moderately-priced economic hatchbacks decorated with orange flags.

A flag with a lioness on it is waved in the Valencienne's, France, stadium for a Netherlands match in the 2019 FIFA Womens World Cup.

But watching the football match itself is only half the fun – the rest of the excitement comes from before, during, and after the orange team takes the field. Read on, because we’re going to give you seven tips to survive as an outsider going undercover at a Dutch football match with the orange Dutch fans.

1. Blend in with the Dutch Fans by Wearing the Colours of the People

The Dutch love orange, and take wearing the brash colour to the absolute extreme. At the most basic level you can get away with wearing an orange shirt. But, in order to fit in with the Dutch fans you must stand out, so the more orange the better. Orange shoes, nail polish, face paint, three-piece suits are all in check when you hang with this crowd.

Dutch football fans dressed in orange in crazy costume.
The more orange the better. IMAGE: Richard Matthews on Flickr. CC 2.0.

And then the extras. It’s an age-old secret that every Dutch family has an ancient chest, stored away and passed down from generation to generation filled with all the free orange, flag, or lion-themed stuff that they could contain from giveaways at Albert Heijn or Blokker.

In this mysterious trunk is a treasure-trove of costume embellishments: cowboy hats with space for a six-pack, wheels of cheese fashioned into a hat, stuffed hamsters swinging from a keychain, “wuppies,” eyelash-extensions, and swinging furry lion tails (we don’t want to know what they’re used for out of football season.)

Ad

No ideas for your oranje-outfit? Just follow the three rules of orange, orange and orange, with a hint of red, white, blue. You’ll fit right in with the Dutch fans!

2. Wine? No. Spirits? No. Beer? JA.

The Dutchie’s love beer on a good day, but when it’s combined with a good-old football match – well, they REALLY like it. Early match? No problem: crack open your first beer at 9am with no judgement, and keep them coming right up until you enter the stadium.

A lone Dutch supporter dressed in orange stands by a tree holding a Dutch flag for the 2019 FIFA Womens World Cup.
A lone Dutch supporter dressed in orange stands by a tree holding a Dutch flag for the 2019 FIFA Womens World Cup.

In fact, at the 2019 Womens World Cup Match in Valenciennes, France, the city stocked up on enough beer for the whole tournament. However, they underestimated the drinking power of the Dutch – and ran out just a quarter of the way through the competition after 13,000 orange fans stormed the streets.

3. Louder the Better: Chant the Chants and Sing the Songs

There are little less pleasures in life than screaming VIVAAAA HOLLANDIA at the top of your lungs. When the main event isn’t attracting enough attention, the crowd takes it into their own hands to entertain themselves. It’s not uncommon for the enthusiastic Dutchies to be accompanied by a full brass band determined to belt out the age-old songs to cheer on the players.

The lyrics typically aren’t overly complex (and the fans are normally too excited to care), so you can normally get away with singing the various ‘da da da’ parts, or waiting to scream “Aanvallen!” (“Attack!”).

Aanvallen!

Truth be told, you probably don’t want to know what a lot of the lyrics mean, because they don’t make much sense. “Laat de leeuw niet in zijn hempie staan” may be a popular idiom in Dutch, but in English it literally translates to “Don’t let the lion stand around in his undershirt” – bit inappropriate, really.

But, if you would like to really blend in with the Dutch fans and sing along you can check out some lyrics over at OnsOranje.

4. Move Your Body Links, Rechts – and Everywhere Else

Ever experienced the tidal wave of human movement that is Links, Rechts? Felt the refreshing effect of sun-warmed beer splashing down your neck as the human snake of the polonaise winds around?

Turns out while the Dutch like to watch people get physical, the Dutch fans also love to get physical.

Time to wind down? How about the relaxing instructional yoga session that is “van voor, naar achter, van links, naar rechts”? Whatever the song, clap your hands, wiggle yo’ butt, and give them some sugar. Or just wave your arms up and down like a broken marionette – that’s it, you got it!

5.  Welcome to the Oranje Parade

As a teen you may have spent your afternoons blasting My Chemical Romance’s Welcome to the Black Parade’ through knock-off iPod headphones. But, now, let me welcome you to the Oranje Parade. Thousands of orange-dressed Holland-ites swigging beer, chanting songs, and waving their hands in the air. Cue the exuberant singing to any Dutch song, ever.

An orange double-decker bus is surrounded by Dutch fans at the 2019 FIFA Womens World Cup.
An orange double-decker bus is surrounded by Dutch fans at the 2019 FIFA Womens World Cup.

If you’re lucky enough to be present at a major tournament you may just find an orange double-decker bus (De Oranje Dubbeldekker!) leading the way – no matter the continental location. This orange-machine has more stamps in its passport than most people, even heading as far as Brazil and South Africa!

As you march, make sure to join in with the festivities: sing at the top of your lungs, links and rechts your heart out, and wave merrily to the confused observers hanging out their windows with their jaws hanging open.

6. Dutch fans: The More the Merrier

Football is the world’s game, and while the Dutch are competitive, they’re also super-welcoming. Other country supporters have been welcomed into parades, fan zones, and even in the match – with open arms!

Unless it’s Germany of course – when it comes to football these neighbours are definitely not friends thanks to “de moeder aller nederlagen” (“The mother of all defeats”) in the 1974 FIFA World Cup Final.

7. Oranje Fever and Dutch Fans: Just Get Into It

They may seem like bizarre rituals that would’t fly in an ordinary society – but hey, we’re talking about the Netherlands. Relax into the dress-ups, the warbling and the body thrusts, and just have a good time, even if you need a bit of liquid courage (but only beer of course.)

In fact, there is even a passionate song played during all the before and after parties that literally translates to: “I’d rather be too fat in the casket // than miss a party” – ya know, if you needed any encouragement for that next beer.

The Dutch fans are a passionate about football and take the game seriously – but at the end of the day you’re there to have fun – so have a blast!

What’s the strangest football-match ritual you’ve seen in the Netherlands? Have you managed to keep up with the Dutch’s enthusiasm? Let us know in the comments!

2 COMMENTS

  1. “Laat de leeuw niet in zijn hempie staan” “(don’t let the lion stand in his undershirt)
    “In je hemd staan” (standing in your undershirt) is more or less the Dutch equivalent expression for “being/getting caught with your pants down”

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.