The Vengabus Is Coming, and It's Back to... Fight Political Corruption?

The late 90s Eurodance group Vengaboys has become an unexpected mascot for Austria's left, and we have some questions.
June 4, 2019, 12:00pm
Photo credit: Thomas Kronsteiner

Whether you're a creepy old man with a penchant for pied-piping thrill seekers to Six Flags theme parks, or anyone that spent time at a Señor Frogs nightclub in the late 90s/early 00s, there is a chance that when you hear the sound of a loud, long bus honk, your head—and your heart—go to one place: the Vengaboys' classic "We Like to Party."

As the song repeatedly informs us, the Vengaboys famously liked to party, and were willing to travel far and wide, from New York to San Francisco and countless discotheques in Germany and Ibiza in between, to deliver fistpumping action (and complete nostalgic joy) via their trusty Vengabus.

But while everyone always talks about how the Vengabus is coming, no one asks how the Vengabus is doing. For those wondering, the Vengabus is doing amazing, sweetie.

The Independent reports that the Dutch bubblegum power group were called into action by Austrians protesting against now-former vice chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, who was caught on camera in Ibiza offering major money contracts to a Russian oligarch in exchange for political support. Vengaboys' 1999 hit "We're Going to Ibiza" became the unofficial song of the leftist anti-government movement, skyrocketing back up the nation's music charts as a result. And when the country's government effectively collapsed after Strache's resignation, the group was invited to perform its finely aged club bop to celebrate the demise of Austria's right-wing rule. Last Thursday, the Vengaboys gassed up the ol’ Vengabus, and boom boom boom boom, the bus came rolling through to Vienna for a performance of "We're Going to Ibiza"—along with their other hits—in front of the Federal Chancellery for a crowd of cheering leftists.

While this was an inspiring show of Eurodance-soundtracked political rallying, it also conjured some questions about the Vengabus itself, which, last we checked, had been in obscurity since the turn of the Millennium. We have attempted to unravel some of these mysteries below.

Where has the Vengabus been this whole time?

The Vengaboys and their magic school bus came to prominence in 1998 with the release of their hit "We Like to Party," though its last known sighting prior to its appearance in Vienna is unclear. While the group has performed various festival stages the world over since their breakout, as evidenced by a large collection of live performance footage posted on their official YouTube page, including an intense 2013 tour compilation video and a mindblowing 2018 compilation proclaiming the group "Europe's No. 1 Party Act," the bus makes zero appearances (though we do see them dancing atop a stretch van/Hummer hybrid automobile). It is likely too large to accomodate on, say, a side stage at an EDM festival in New Zealand.

The Vengabus’s video debut was 21 years ago, but one could assume that the Vengabus was parked in Vengaboys' lead vocalist “Captain Kim” Sasabone's detached garage on what we can imagine is the neverending foam party commune where she and the other members reside, waiting patiently and quietly for a Venga-mergency to spin its wheels of steel out of retirement. However, the events of May 30 suggest that the bus has been up to other schemes, like posting on antifa message boards and promising right-wing attendees at a Unite the Right 2 rally in Washington, DC, that it would pick them up, only to leave their racist asses out on the street. Good one, Vengabus!

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Is there more than one Vengabus?

Is there a fleet of vengae that are all maintained regularly, shined and waxed so they look presentable should anyone happen to stop by unannounced for tea, or should a corrupt right-wing vice chancellor spectacularly fall from power? Is the Vengabus like the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile, where there are actually six identical Wienermobiles spreading the gospel of nitrate-free meats across the land at any given time? Does it also smell like hot dog water? (Worth asking, but we found no evidence of duplicate Vengabuses.)

Is the Vengabus antifa?

While a photo has been making the rounds on Reddit showing the group performing with an Antifa flag waving behind them, it was quickly debunked by user Sedition1917, who expertly measured that the flag was being held by a protestor in the foreground. Even so, one must assume Vengaboys' presence and performance at a far-left rally to cheer on the fall of Vienna's right-wing leadership (and the unmasking of Strache as a corrupt politician) means the party bus has anti-fascist leanings at the very least. When the group sang, "Gonna put some wheels in motion / get ready 'cause we're comin' through" way back in 1998, perhaps they weren't referring to the coming of a lime green, refashioned school bus emblazoned with childlike daisies and rainbows carrying their melodically throbbing Euro-pop beats. Perhaps what they were actually alluding to was the coming of the revolution! "Happiness is just around the corner," they said. What's happier than a liberated front? The "interstate free disco" they dreamt of in song may have been a call for open borders. These secret comrades have been indoctrinating us all along. We stan.

Is the Vengabus equipped to deal with climate change?

Times were different in the late 90s. An Inconvenient Truth was still seven years away, Leonardo DiCaprio was more focused on his work with the “Pussy Posse” than with crusading for Mother Earth, and we were all wearing those huge Rocket Dog foam flip flops without any concern for their environmental impact (they're back, by the way). We can assume the Vengabus was running on good ol’ Earth-wrecking fracked oil—or maybe diesel because this was Europe—back in its heyday. But perhaps now, with a greater social conscience, the Vengabus has altered its engine and tank to show greater consideration for its greenhouse emissions. Is it running on used vegetable oil? Or maybe it's even gone electric? How much is the Vengabus looking out for Venga-US? Even our comrades in arms must be questioned on other matters that impact society. Surely, climate change is one of them, especially considering the group’s fifth member is a giant bus.

Can we expect the Vengabus and the Vengaboys to be our new leaders in revolution?

It wasn't that long ago that we all rallied behind Pussy Riot and their masked campaign against fascism. But is their time as the movement’s figureheads over now? Tired: Pussy Riot; wired: Vengaboys? Granted, the Vengaboys didn't get arrested and held as political prisoners for their no-holds-barred activism and aggressive punk rallying against Putin and his cronies, but they did have confetti cannons, which could be considered a more festive guillotine, should the confetti somehow land into the throat of a class traitor and choke them to death, so there's that. Only time will tell.

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Follow Alex Zaragoza, who formerly went by the Instagram handle The VengaBust, on Twitter.