Milkshake Festival. Where gay means many things…

Last Sunday was the 3rd edition of the Milkshake Festival at Amsterdam’s Westerpark. This dance festival is all about freedom; creative freedom, sexual freedom, freedom to be who you are.

Milkshake Festival - Avenue21

To call Milkshake gay-friendly is an understatement, it’s like an outdoor gay club, but one with a clear message: Everybody is welcome, and please feel free to get crazy.

Milkshake - Avenue21

It’s a show

This wasn’t my first visit, so I expected the largely lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) crowd to put on a kind of Rocky Horror Park Show. But there were also quite a few “regular” visitors.

Milkshake - Avenue21

Don’t get wrong, Milkshake is an extravaganza. The organizers as well as many visitors take their presentation way over the top. But it’s cool to see how the average Joe and Jane don’t shy away from the “freakshow”, but embrace Milkshake Festival. This is a party for everyone and everyone is partying.

Milkshake Amsterdam - Avenue21

Gay in so many ways

It’s funny, but nowadays the term “gay” is almost exclusively used to define a sexual preference. But at Milkshake the older meaning of gay, as in “happy”, “enthusiastic” and “free-spirited”, is still very much alive. The entire festival buzzes with a happy vibe.

Ferris wheel at Milkshake - Avenue21

I was talking to my friend Erick E., right after his DJ set on the Can You Feel iT stage. This stage paid tribute to Club iT, one of the original House Music clubs in Amsterdam, which too had its roots in the gay community. Erick was beaming with enthusiasm, he just loved Milkshake and how it revived that vibe and excitement from the early days of House.

Milkshake Summer Festival - Avenue21

Neither Erick nor I are gay, but we’re both fans of equality. For that reason alone, you have to love Milkshake, not only is the LGBT lifestyle accepted here, it’s celebrated, respected ánd no big deal.

Milkshake Outdoor - Avenue21


Shortly after I walked in, two girlfriends asked me to come dance by the Superbimbo stage. They loved the music there, and clearly so did the many shirtless guys that were dancing their asses off. I declined though, because dancing in a crowd of sweaty guys is not my thing. But that’s okay too at Milkshake; just pick another stage that you like more. Just be who you are.

Photos by Daisy van Knotsenburg (

Milkshake 2014 - Avenue21

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