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Dutch Treat: Beer pong and more hospitality

/ Source: contributor

The Dutch know how to throw a party. The ingredients:

One, rent a massive space for fans to congregate, dance and chant. Like the National Agricultural Exhibition Center, a sprawling complex that features four restaurants, a beer garden and a performance hall.

Two, supply people with games and activities, such as tennis on the Nintendo Wii, pingpong tables, a "Vitality Campus" where you could test your lung capacity and body fat and, for the weary, massage chairs.

Three, invite anyone who wants to party with the Orange.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, have Heineken sponsor the hospitality house.

The Holland Heineken House was rocking Monday night, as Dutch fans packed the performance hall to celebrate the silver medal won by countrywoman Deborah Gravenstijn in judo. The crowd was chanting in unison, singing along to pop and national songs. It was a sweaty mass of humanity, a sea of orange shirts and wigs.

The hospitality house, like the House of Switzerland, is one of the few national pavilions open to the public. The house was filled predominantly with Dutch nationals, most of whom were decked out in orange, the national color. A handful of Americans also found their way to the house.

Alex Yellen, a D.C. native living in Los Angeles, was enjoying the scenery as he walked around the beer garden.

"This place is rocking," he said. "I imagine this is what a party is like when your team wins the Super Bowl."

Inside the performance hall, an emcee brought Gravenstijn out to a roaring ovation. Her coach joined her as they danced on stage. Queen's "We Are the Champions" boomed from the speakers, and the Orange sang their lungs out as Gravenstijn, caught up in the moment, jumped into the 2,000-strong mosh pit. Her compatriots lifted her as she body-surfed the crowd.

The beloved prince of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander, and his wife, Princess Máxima, also joined the festivities, jumping on stage to dance with Gravenstijin.

"The energy (is) such that you were just inspired to clap along," Yellen said.

As Yellen stood near the entrance of the hall, a group of Americans strolled in. One of them asked where the party was.

"You want to follow your ears and your nose," Yellen said. "And your liver."

Outside, near the beer garden, a group of friends from Britain and Ireland had set up beer pong, a game they learned from one of their roommates who had studied at UCLA. Beer pong — the preferred drinking game in fraternities and certain New York bars on the Upper East Side — in Beijing gave new meaning to the term, Beer Olympics.

James Hume was teaching his chums how to play when he challenged this reporter to a game. What else could an American do but represent his country? But after a few rounds, as Hume nailed cup after cup like Tiger Woods on the putting green, excuses were made about work. The Brits had won this round.

"Thanks for playing," Hume said sincerely, perhaps mildly disappointed he didn't get much of a challenge (and chance to drink).

The party continued as a band took the stage. The night had to end at 2 a.m., to the chagrin to some partiers, but organizers would be opening up the house at 9 a.m. for another day of lager and celebration.

"We're known for (celebrating). We're the Orange," said Maurice Ouderland, the media officer for Heineken International. "In every sport we're known to celebrate — even if we lose."