(Editor’s note: The schedule of Dutch Pancake Nights is posted here on the Dutch Pancake Night Facebook page. Events in Tangiers, Toulouse and Den Haag are coming up in April.)
Traveling the world putting on Dutch Pancake Nights – making pancakes and partying while meeting people from all over the globe. Sounds like a dream?
It is the real life of Robin Vogelaar.
On weekdays, he is a consultant at ING in Amsterdam.
On the weekend he’s Mr. Pancake.
Every weekend, Robin flies to a different city to host Dutch Pancake Nights, from Tokyo, Singapore and Hong Kong to Rio de Janeiro and New York.
Robin has hosted Dutch Pancake Nights in more than 80 cities in a total of 40 different countries.
What started as a small get-together with a few friends has grown into an event thousands of people have attended over the past six years.
As an exchange student in Hong Kong and Boston, Robin started making Dutch pancakes for a small group of classmates. When he returned home to Amsterdam a couple of years ago he was working 70-hour weeks and did not get to see his friends as much as he would have liked.
To change that, he started hosting pancake parties again, just like he did when he was studying abroad.
“First I asked my friends to invite more people and later on I started advertising as well, Robin said. “It quickly grew and at some point I was hosting an edition with 70 to 80 people at my own house.”
Living as a nomad
At the time Robin was living in a house in the Amsterdam neighborhood of The Pijp, a house that was big enough to host the pancake parties.
When he had to move out because his landlord was selling the house, Robin decided not to move into a new place but to travel and live as a nomad instead:
“It was not easy to find a place in Amsterdam. So I was forced to move back in with my parents. I decided to make the most of it. I had a good salary and hardly any living costs which allowed me to travel a lot on the weekends. I visited friends in cities in Europe and made pancakes if they had a birthday party. Then I thought: why not host parties in cities where I do not know anyone?”
A simple but brilliant idea, because everybody loves pancakes.
Robin announces the events on Facebook and now has partnerships with hostels and hotels that host the events.
Some people are such fans of Robin and his Dutch Pancake Nights they follow him around the world and fly into a city just so they can party with the Dutch Mr. Pancake.
“Pancakes are the most fun and easiest to make,”Robin said. “Every country has their own pancakes. From Africa to Japan. There is always a good vibe at the Pancake Nights. I think people associate pancakes with good memories from their childhood.”
The people who attend his parties are often internationals: expats, exchange students and au-pairs.
Dutch Pancake Nights
Robin has been hosting Dutch Pancake Nights every weekend for the past three years.
Each weekend he travels to a different city within Europe to make some pancakes and to connect international people. A couple times a year he travels outside of Europe.
The event is totally free. All you have to do is show up ready to party and bring some pancake toppings if you like. Robin takes care of the rest.
He is still crashing on his family’s and friends’ couches and intends to keep the pancake events free. “I think the moment I start making money off the events, they will lose part of their charm. Sometimes hostels or hotels offer me free accommodation and that makes it a bit easier for me.”
After more than 200 Dutch Pancake Nights, Robin is busy thinking about the next step to take the events to a new level.
“I feel like I am at a cross-over. The event is at a high right now, and I am looking into what the next step should be,” he said.
“I have experimented with social initiatives, such as linking the events to fund-raising. Another idea is to host the events at more unique locations. And my third option is a dream I have had for a few years: to host an extra-large edition. For example, at a party in Amsterdam with thousand people.
“I think that could take the Dutch Pancake Nights to the next level.”