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Molli Squat Bar: Amsterdam Jan 04

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Molli Bar a good old fashioned punk rock bar  - in fact the oldest squatted bar in the Netherlands - is a great place to try out some of Amsterdam's famous vegan cuisine & wash it down with a half litre or two of golden larger... I don't know why they don't mention it in the Lonely Planet. I distracted Ervyn from the Molli from chopping veg for the 'peoples kitchen'  long enough to ask these questions.

Maybe you can tell me a little bit about this place & what your doingÖ

Well weíre here in the Molli a squat bar although it was legalised in 95 every evening we have a bar on Monday there is the squatting hour helping people find homes & every month there is a feminist evening a giveaway shop FNB every Thursday peoples kitchen 3 euros for three courses every evening except Saturday is the bar. Sunday is none smoking.

How long has it been going?

Next year celebrate 25 years. First it was in a different location.

How many people are involved in organising the space?

Around 15 People do the bar almost 2 for every evening. Other people are active with the squatting hour & FNB. The feminist group is a separate from the people here but they are also involved in some things.

So what is the situation the place was squatted but now legalised?

Well it used to be squatted but then there was a deal with the housing corporation who owns the building & now we rent it for cheap. Now there is also the city council wants us to have a permit because we are a bar & we are busy now trying to get a permit. & We hope to get a new deal for the rent next year when our contract expires.

What kind of work has to be carried out to meet the councilís standards for the permits etc?

Well we have to do some rebuilding because there were some things that didnít meet the city councils standards for bars. We had to find a legal form in which we could operate to apply for a permit. This was a bit difficult because weíre a collective & thereís no such thing in Dutch law. We now have formalised the collective into a members club so every member has a vote. Weíve kept every thing the same but we formalised it.

Is there anyone who likes doing this kinda work i.e. co-ordinate with the council etc?

Well we donít really like it but the thing is if we donít do it they could close evict & us down us, we could start to squat over again but then we learn the permanent space. &  It would become difficult to do many of our activities here & thatís why we decided to work with the council.

Is this typical of the attitude of people organising social centres in Amsterdam?

Yeah. Well some people are really against dealing with city council & others see the need for doing it complying in the least possible way but enough to keep your space active.

Can you explain squatting hours?

In Adam there are 5 squatting hours. Some for different neighbourhood & one targeting students as theyíre one of the groups who really need houses & theyíre not as active as they used to be so weíre trying to get them active in squatting

All the squatting hours you want to squat a house you come there they give you information they keep a record of all the squatted houses in the neighbourhood. If you see a house that is empty you can talk to the squatting hour & they can assist you in finding out the things you need to know because squatting houses in Holland is legal if the house has been empty for more than a year so you have to find out some things about the owners or if there is some plan for restoration. The people in the squatting hour help you with that they also help you with breaking open the door & dealing with the police & that kinda thing & also with the legal stuff that comes afterwards because owners can try to get you out & there can be court cases & that kind of thing.

& The student squatting hour is a bit different because they donít do squatting themselves but direct students to other squatting hours & they sometimes bring groups of students together who are looking for a place to squat.

Here there are 7 people active in it & almost every Sunday we do a squatting action. We squat here on Sundays because most people donít work & they have most time. For the squatting place where everyone meets in a big group & we go to the house & some people break open the door & other people stand around to protect the breakers from being seen because that is the only part that is illegal. So when you get in you call the police who come along to check if the place is really empty.

Is there a big problem with housing in Amsterdam?

Yes especially for people with lower incomes the waiting list for social housing is sometimes up to 10 years. If you are new starting to look in the housing market itís very difficult to find a place so itís particularly difficult for young people & thatís the most Ďcustomersí of the squatting hour.

Everywhere in Europe itís said the squat scene was much better in the 80ís is this the case here? 

 Well there was a lot of squatting going on in the 80ís & now it less but also because students also then it was really difficult to get a house but students or people who were unemployed had much more time on theyíre hands. Now students get money from the state but its only for 4 years so you have to really hurry up your studies & its also less money which means a lot of people are working & donít have a lot of time for study. People unemployed have to do more things to get money from the state & so have less time.

Also it was a bit more radical in the 80ís than it is now & I donít know why that is. People donít have the time to suffer the consequences of every radical action

Your involved in Amsterdam Food Not Bombs can you say a bit about that?

FNB in Amsterdam around 4 years used to be 3 times a month now only 4 people so its once a month. On Saturday go to market & shop s to get food & on Sundays we cook here we use the backveetz to bring it to the square where we work.

Are there a lot of homeless people in Amsterdam?

The aim of the action is not specifically targeting homeless people but we were standing in a busy street then we moved to another place closer to here where we cook & almost nobody came & now weíve moved again to close to a supermarket which is open on Sundays. So we target everyone but mostly homeless people & alcoholics come to eat.

& You have some experience of FNB in other places in Europe?

Was on the tour to Poland. & Barcelona also gave away close & other stuff, which we also tried but it was not co-ordinated well enough. 

A fairly basic first rule in video is to write down the name of anyone your videoing as in the months later when your editing (or typing up) the interview you'll be able to reference this info & give said person a title. Well I fucked up can't remember the name of this guy but he was cool & had some interesting points on the Molli...  

Youíve been involved in the Molli for a long time?

Iím one of the oldest persons Iíve been involved since 1982. The bar opened for the first time in 1979 itís the oldest squat cafť in Holland so weíre very proud of this. It was situated in another location 500 metres from here but it was a very old house & it was demolished in 95. Then we squatted in this place an old record store that was perfect for a bar except we have to make a lot of rebuilding to insulate the noise from the neighbours. & Now its not squatted anymore we pay a very small (more a symbolic) rent.

It was going ok but now the government wants us to get permits. I donít like to get permits but Iím a minority in the bar group. We try to get permits & we hope to get it for a few years.

First about the name the name is Molli haus & Molli is coming from Molotov cocktail haus is Dutch for chaotics & the people who went to demonstration only to riot with the cops were called in the 80ís the chaotics & so thatís why the name.

The Molli has a very big history. There were a lot of riots in the neighbourhood & lots of problems with police & with fascists who were smashing the windows. Thatís the benefit that we are renting now because the owner has glass insurance.

Whatís the big difference between the Molli & other bars you see on the streets of Amsterdam?

First of all the prices of the beer is very low because we donít pay any taxes. We make a little bit of money but this is going to groups who want to make actions and things. The first Sunday of the month we have a bar meeting & people can come here to ask for money & the you have to explain for what action. Sometimes itís squat action or animal rights or all kinds of stuff. So profits we make we put it back in the movement again.

So people who work in the bar do they get paid?

No itís voluntary but one thing is that you can drink 5 half litres of beer.

Also rebuilding & things itís voluntary.

Is it easy to find volunteers? 

Yes its not so hard

The beer helps?

& most of the people here are really lazyÖ.

But for a few beers they are coming...

What are the plans for the future?

We are hoping to get the permits I donít know when we are putting it into the future as long as possible. But we hope to exist for a very long time.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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