This company organizes pop-up corona proof parties



Wouter Vink.Image Eva Faché

It is the stroke of six o’clock, a dark Wednesday evening in November, and Sybrand Grotenhuis (70) is unaware of the crowd that gathers silently in front of his house. Neither of the white van that has taken up position near his front door, facing the street, ready for when Grotenhuis ventures out into the cold darkness, persuaded with an excuse by his two own daughters.

Company

Finch Disco Team

True

De Meern

Since

2007

Number of employees

Two including Vink, plus approx. 10 freelancers

Revenue

140 thousand euros in 2019, 50 thousand euros expected for 2020

That the neighbors ignite as soon as the birthday boy / girl Grotenhuis steps out his front door There is one birthday, hooray! is still so far. But when the loading doors of the bus open, saxophonist Emiel van der Heide (40) jumps out and plays the first notes from the red carpet. Long will it livesurrounded by confetti and pink light, then the tall Grotenhuis grins from ear to ear. While a handful of neighbors are turning the street into a dance floor, that corona virus is gone for a while and the birthday boy is just birthday.

Multicolored jacket

‘Welcome to Sybrand’s pop-up mini-surprise party’, echoes Wouter Vink (38), wearing a multi-colored jacket and pink headphones, with a typical DJ baritone from behind the turntable in the cargo area of ​​the bus. It runs like clockwork: the DJ, the saxophonist, the light show, smoke and confetti splashes – Vink has been out more than a hundred times with his disco bus since March. He has to do something, as a DJ and as a lighting technician. The corona crisis has forced many entrepreneurs to rethink their earnings model, and the events industry is no different.

When Vink looked at an almost completely empty diary at the beginning of March, he scribbled his head for a moment. No weddings. No corporate events. No crowded birthday parties. No income, and no idea when it would come again; the lockdown became increasingly strict from March 16, with no end in sight.

For the first two months, he was able to supplement his income as a self-employed person, normally above average, through the Tozo scheme up to the social minimum. Until in May a friendly ‘competitor’ came up with an idea: the delivery vans that we normally use to transport our equipment to weddings and parties are now idle. Why don’t we insert a turntable with a pair of speakers and lights into it?

Roadshow

Now Vink is one of the six ‘guys’ who produce a similar roadshow in the central Netherlands region. They share freelance artists – such as saxophonist Van der Heide. That too rolled through into the disco bus industry; normally he accompanies Vink to weddings, or plays in accompaniment bands of artists such as Xander de Buisonjé or Trijntje Oosterhuis. But all that has now also come to a standstill.

It may not be the most prestigious gig, surrounded by toddlers and playing machine smoke at a birthday party in ‘t Gooi, but Vink and Van der Heide are hard to beat. Vink talks the images together in a loud echoing voice and a broad smile as if it were King’s Day on Amsterdam’s Museumplein, and Van der Heide steals the show in glittery coat and black sunglasses.

It is rewarding work, they both say, to break the endless lockdown drag with a party. That is their profession. Moreover, it is a welcome extra income, and they can continue like this: Vink with his company, and Van der Heide with playing. “After all concerts were canceled, I spent the first two months teaching music through Zoom,” says the latter. ‘That was nothing. This is much more fun. ‘


Image Eva Faché

Corona proof

Two neighbors take the opportunity to stroll around the doors with a bottle of beer in hand, but most of the local residents are at a safe distance hopping along with the family in their own front garden. That is how Vink had intended it when he advised the daughters of Grotenhuis to throw a note through the neighbors’ bus: let them know that we are coming and invite them to join in from their own garden.

‘That way, the neighbors know what is going to happen, that it won’t take that long, and how they can keep their distance,’ says Vink.

After all, anyone who organizes a party in which the corona rules are violated can face a fine of up to 4,000 euros. But Vink mainly does it out of a sense of responsibility, he says. ‘In my opinion, those kinds of fines are more intended for those who organize an illegal house party in a warehouse.’

That is a good thing, because such a fine would soon cost Vink half his disco bus turnover; he hopes to bring in some 11 to 12 thousand euros by the end of the year with the traveling surprise parties, on top of the 40 thousand euros in turnover from regular activities, mainly in the first months of the year, partly also before the crisis. That is two-thirds less than a year earlier.

Best year ever

Because it went so well. In 2019 Vink is his best year ever, since Finch Discoteam was registered with the Chamber of Commerce in 2007 and has grown from a hobby project to a mature company. In recent years, he has received more and more bookings for business events on weekdays, in addition to as a DJ show at parties and parties. At the beginning of this year, Vink even considered hiring his only part-time employee, now via a temporary employment contract.

And still, he says cheerfully: the corona crisis will be temporary, and now everyone is eager to party again. When that vaccine is available, the parties and events will return and Finch Discoteam will continue to grow. But the disco bus remains, as a new, third leg of his company. Then Vink buys a second bus for the regular parties. In that case, the corona crisis would have resulted in a permanent expansion of his company; seizing opportunities is what entrepreneurs call it.

Excellent acoustics

Surprise parties on location are doing well, he now knows, and even without four walls and a roof, his sound and light equipment will do just fine. The cargo area of ​​the Renault Master DCI 100, in combination with the houses at the end of the street, offers excellent acoustics for both Guus Meeuwis’ It’s thunder and lightning and it rains meters of beer like Vink’s baritone. “Five feet, yes people!”

Apparently, more local residents noticed this acoustics than intended. Just after the saxophonist got into his car on his way to a music lesson in Barendrecht, a police car with two young policemen quietly appears on the corner of Sloep and Starboard streets, called in by neighbors for concerns about corona and a report for noise pollution. In this way, Sybrand’s seventieth still became a bit of rock ‘n’ roll.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *