I think its time we stop Children, what's that sound? Everybody look, what's going down?
Stephen Stills (For What it's Worth)
Why do people protest?
Unwinding the Dutch COVID-19 restrictions is a complicated matter. As of September 2021, masks have been jettisoned, social distancing is being replaced by the use of vaccine passports, and most shops, businesses and offices have reopened. But music festivals, discos, and nightclubs remain shuttered.
To some, this is flat-out unfair. So last Saturday, paradoxically on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, thousands of people took to the streets of Leiden to protest the continued closure of discos and dance festivals. The protest was part of a nationwide effort, called "Unmute Us", which was aimed at persuading the Dutch government to re-open the dance venues and allow the big music festivals to proceed.
Protests in Holland tend to be peaceful, placid affairs, and this was no exception. The protesters meandered down the canals, dancing to the house music played by DJs in trucks loaded with festival gear. Somehow the protest evolved into a party, or a party into a protest, and all had a good time.
From a photographic vantage point, protest rallies provide a wonderful opportunity to catch people with their guard down. People tend to relax when they are dancing in the street. This series presents a selection of Dutch protest portraits, or faces in a crowd, of those who are collectively trying to be seen---and heard. If you'd like to see the full series, download the PDF catalogue here.