Nieuws - 29 september 2011

The secret of Herenstraat 14

What do Classy Wednesday, the White Trash Party and sleepovers by the Rhine have in common? Answer: They were all dreamt up at Herenstraat 14. This student house in the heart of Wageningen has gradually acquired a legendary status, not least because of its unbeatable Facebook presence (1043 friends). In the coming weeks Resource hopes to learn the secret of Herenstraat 14's success. Part one: Introductions

An enormous mansion in Wageningen town centre. A giant of a man with a friendly smile opens the door. JJ provides a guided tour of long corridors, winding stairways, kitchens and bathrooms. It all looks surprisingly clean. ‘It is managed by Idealis, so everything works', says JJ. Down in the bicycle cellar, his face lights up. ‘This is where it all happens. When there are big parties, we empty this room, bring in the DJ and cover the lamps.' Dangling bits of cellophane are left over from the last party.
We make our way to the backyard, the venue for countless barbecues to which the entire neighbourhood is welcome. ‘There are thirteen of us from all over the world living together here', says Mohamed. The relationship with the neighbours is fantastic. Thanks mainly to Mohamed, who is able to start up a deep discussion with anyone in no time at all. ‘If someone complains about noise, our neighbour stands up for us', says Mohamed fervently. ‘I don't hear a thing', she says.
Busy student
HS14 hasn't always been an exciting place to be. ‘When I came here four years ago, I was almost turned away because I was too young', JJ relates. ‘Most of the occupants then were working adults and they didn't like the idea of a busy little student.' Mohamed had then been around for just a few months. Gradually, things started to change because ‘if you like to party, you choose party types as housemates.' The call for a new housemate says it all: ‘Age, work or type of study does not matter as long as you have at least a few of the following personality traits: Hilarious - Outgoing - Open-minded - Experimental - Energetic - Curious - Passionate - Competitive - Extravagant.'
A little over a year ago, they created a Facebook page. JJ: ‘I just invited people who had something to do with the university, and in a small place like Wageningen, that goes quickly.' The result: their White Trash Party last November was packed to capacity with Facebook friends. ‘It was so crammed that I was almost afraid the house would collapse', says JJ. ‘We even had to turn people away at the door.' Subsequent parties were more exclusive. Only the 200 closest Facebook friends were at St. Patrick's Day and the Sports Party.
‘The quarterback gets the pussy'
JJ has a subscription to the National Football League on TV. Every Sunday, a handful of people arrive to watch an American football match. JJ and his two regular visitors Pieter and Hylke explain the rules to the rest of the spectators. ‘Look, that's the quarterback, he gets all the pussy.' Every laddish advert (there's a commercial break every five minutes) has the guys smiling and roaring their approval. When the three of them travelled around the US, they were infected with the football virus when the Saints won the Superbowl in New Orleans. If they do well again this year, it'll be party time once more...