ABBA Weekend 2019 - What A Party!
Here is a report by Oscar Alejo Smirnov from Argentina
Filled with expectation, I started the 26-hour journey from my home in Argentina to Roosendaal. It was to be my first time in Roosendaal and also in the Netherlands. I was travelling by myself, so the trip was a great adventure. On my first day, I met two friends from Argentina, Fernando and Maria Rosa, and they showed me around the rather nice town before we met the other fans in the Moriaan pub that evening.
You could see other fans taking a walk around the city, too, so there was something in the air… and when you met a familiar face, open arms awaited you. The party began at the pub where ABBA music was playing courtesy of our DJ, Jason Swan, with a beautiful screen that displayed the name of each song. Suddenly the place was crowded, full of ABBA fans, and it was great. Everyone was singing, dancing, chatting and making friends. As always, there was a quiz but, true to tradition, it was pretty difficult to complete. It was fun to learn more and more about ABBA, with lovely presents and lucky winners. The party continued into the small hours.
Then the big day arrived. Rottier was the place for all ABBA fans that Saturday. I wanted to be on time as it was my first visit, and I did not want to miss anything. A large queue of ABBA fans had been forming at the entrance for some time before 11:00. Then, at last, the doors opened to the great palace for every ABBA fan. After registration, with a lovely magnet souvenir and welcoming smiles, you found yourself in a huge room filled with all things ABBA, with lots of merchandise for sale at every table. Never in my life had I seen so many ABBA collectibles. We are in an era where you can find lots of things on the internet, but here everything was under the same roof, you could feel it and hold it, it was real. Some items were expensive, some cheap; it was amazing.
The Fan Club had more surprises during the day. We met Ilona van Hilst, who worked for the first ABBA Fan Club and who interviewed Björn on TV in December 1980. We also met Rob Verhorst, a photographer who took photos of the ABBA concert in Rotterdam on October 24th, 1979. There was also an exclusive exhibition of some of his wonderful photos which ran all day. Finally, we met the great Anders Hanser. You can read a report in the magazine about his presentation, but I can tell you that it was an honour to talk to him and to participate in an interview with his team for his next documentary, along with other ABBA fans.
Of course, we could not miss the competition, with three questions that had to be answered by a certain time and prizes to be won. The cherry on the cake was the disco - the best way to end a day that had been filled with so many surprises. Dancing for four hours to ABBA music non-stop was a euphoric experience - having the time of your life… From the first beat of the first song, the magic started, and our bodies received that energy that only ABBA music can generate. No single word can explain what you feel when you dance with hundreds of hearts that are so like your own.
At the end of a magnificent night, everybody formed a great circle and linked arms to sing The Way Old Friends Do. I had seen pictures and videos of this moment before, but being there for the very first time moved me to tears.
There was more to come. On Sunday, many of us went to the cinema to watch the two Mamma Mia! films, where we sang along to all the songs. With this, the big, weekend-long ABBA party was over.
Everything was very exciting, there was a lot to see, a lot to share, a lot to enjoy. However, the most important thing was the feeling of friendship and joy over these three days. I am very proud to be an ABBA fan and so glad I had the opportunity to travel thousands of kilometres to have the time of my life with wonderful people who share the same passion with me: ABBA.
Thank you to all the people who built these dreams for all the fans, to Helga, Anita and all the Fan Club staff. Gracias por la música ABBA because, without you, this could not have been possible.
I do not know if I will be able to share another ABBA Day with you all, but I really hope so, with all my heart.
Photos of the weekend can be found here.