We've all done it. We've all gone for a drink with mates on a Wednesday night and thought, "Fuck, I've talked about last weekend and the weekend coming and moaned about my boss and our friend who couldn't join us for drink and now I've got nothing left in the chat-bank," haven't we? "Right then," you say, lifting pint five to your lips, "what'd be your specialist subject on Mastermind?"
It's not totally clear what Dave Clarke would pick, but you'd imagine that the bloke John Peel christened as 'the Baron of Techno' would plump for something musical. Steven Tyler's solo career maybe. Or the Darkness' b-sides. Something like that.
Ignoring common sense, we decided to call this British expat living in Amsterdam, and test his knowledge of the country he now calls home - the Netherlands. As this weekend sees Awakenings hit Manchester—a veritable Dutch institution heading to the U.K. for only the second time in its history—the idea seemed fitting. Especially as he's a headliner. The man thought so too, and happily obliged.
THUMP: What's the fundamental difference between Britain and the Netherlands?
Dave Clarke: It sounds like the beginning of a joke... It's complicated. They seem to take care of infrastructure better here compared with the UK, things like airports, trams, trains. They are also much cheaper than in England, so it seems more like a socialist country, even though it isn't.
I'm in Amsterdam, and they have a lot of heritage which they seem to look after more than in the UK too. The waterways, for example, are really cared for in a way that Venice probably should have done but never did because it's Italian I suppose, so politicians probably got in the way or something. Here they know what could be lost and protect it fiercely.
Culture is very much at the fore here, too. I'm really happy to live close to so many great museums... what else? Well, it's European, which England will never be. I have bad feelings about the UK's potential exit from Europe, and think it's going to happen before everyone realises they've fucked themselves over.
Humour doesn't really carry through here. I'm dryer than the Sahara and had that fall flat on its face many times, and also with journalists. They do the slapslick thing here. When the Benny Hill soundtrack was used for an Awakenings video everyone got it. Linguistically you can have great conversations with Dutch people, but not so much in terms of comedy. Err, the countryside isn't very beautiful at all here, but then that's OK because I have really bad hayfever so don't really miss that too much.
Answer: Long-winded but accurate. A point is awarded.
Which has more passengers per year, Amsterdam Centraal Station or the busiest London station?
I'd say London's will no doubt be busier. I don't think so many people commute here, and in the peripheral areas they have their own stations. But then there are international trains here, to Russia and places like that...But, no, in London prices are ridiculous, meaning everyone has to commute as most of the work is still in the centre. So any London station is going to be busier than the equivalent in Holland.
Answer: Dave, we owe you a huge apology—despite initial research suggesting the answer is Amsterdam Centraal, we were incorrect. London's busiest is Waterloo— which sees 92million passenger's passing through—which beats the Dutch capital's main terminus. You were right.
Gin is traditionally associated with Britain, genever with the Netherlands- both are very similar spirits, but what's the difference?
Actually I think genever is Spanish originally, ginevre, and I think it came through from Prince Philip of Spain. Anyway, they're both made from grain. Genever is something people tend to drink straight. You have vintage genever, you don't have vintage gin often, if at all. Gin was probably developed because of the Indian colonisation, using quinine in the tonic to help with malaria. I'm not sure but they are probably distilled in a different way. One maybe in copper, probably Dutch genever. I think those are the differences?
Answer: Sorry, Dave, the fundamental difference is that genever traditionally involves malt wine, which has whisky notes, gin does not.
The Netherlands apparently produces more than 70% of the world's flower bulbs and bacon- but which does the country produce more of?
Wow. I would say flower bulbs, because you see so many greenhouses. Bacon surprises me, I stopped eating red meat a few months ago, but when I ate it I couldn't get any decent bacon anywhere except Marks & Spencers, so they obviously ship it in. So, actually, you know what, fuck it, you're trying me out - I'm going with bacon.
Answer: Incorrect. The Netherlands produces 75% of the world's flower bulbs, compared with 70% of the world's bacon.
One Dutch city has been labelled the world's most innovative, architecturally, sustainably and in terms of design. Which?
Possibly Rotterdam, that has the most innovative new architecture. Amsterdam has this incredible ability to bring old architecture and new architecture together, which is great. But then this might be about Philips, which is Eindhoven, so I'm going with Eindhoven.
Answer: According to Lonely Planet's Best In Travel 2016 list, 'Rotterdam is the future... now.' Dave should have stuck with his first choice.
The Awakenings Festival, which takes place in the Netherlands during summer, is how many years old in 2016?
I've done maybe 30 different editions of Awakenings, but the festival I'd say ten, no 12 years. Yeah, 12 years."
Answer: Wrong. It's 16, Dave.
Which genre of electronic music is most associated with Rotterdam in the early-90s?
Gabba. I was the first guy to review one of the first gabba singles in Mixmag Update. It didn't age well.
In which year did the legendary Amsterdam club Trouw close?
Last year, 2015. And I didn't play there once.
Answer: Correct. And sorry, Dave.
Finally, who is Black Pete?
It's all fucking racist, I don't give a fuck. It's all about slaves. They've got a slave ring in their nose and they're all working for the big fat white guy. No matter how many pseudo-intellectual arguments I hear defending it when I've slagged it off on Facebook I don't give a fuck, I have black friends over here and they feel it. Of course they feel it, there's nothing else to feel other than racism. The kids who celebrate it aren't racist, but the tradition and everything it copies is.
Imagine, maybe in Morocco, they're dressing up as white kids because the Moors used to take white kids from Cornwall in the 16th Century and use them as slaves, and are now categorising them as not being able to dance well and blah blah blah, all the other stereotypes. Then you go there as a white person, how are you supposed to feel. 'Ah, that's really sweet?'. Obviously not. So, who's Black Pete? It's just a load of racist shite."
Answer: Black Pete is a traditional character in Lowlands folklore, whose history stems back hundreds of years. Supposedly good friends with Santa Claus, he appears in Christmas parades and is often a white person blacked up, wearing Renaissance clothing. The subject of significant controversy, Dave's right that it's more than a bit racist.
Final score: Dave scored 5 correct answers from a total of 9. Next week: Felix Da Housecat on his chosen subject: cat food adverts of the 1980s.
Awakenings Manchester takes place at Victoria Warehouse on Saturday 6th February, with Dave Clark, Chris Liebing, Speedy J, Guy Gerber, Mind Against, Gary Beck, Clouds and more involved.