Ice skating is the Dutch ‘national sport’ and skating on natural ice, a Dutch obsession. Weather-apps are watched obsessively, anticipation building as frost turns to ice, and the minute temperatures stay below zero, ice skate-fever grips the nation.
Urban bodies of water like canals, ponds, and lakes, are transformed into frozen public spaces, attracting not only skaters but also spectators. Thus public space becomes a focal point for urban play, and bumps, bruises and breaks are acceptable trade-offs for the fun.
Climate change has meant a rarity of weather needed to deep-freeze the Dutch waterways. So, the mid-lockdown conditions of February 2021 led to an excited ‘Ice-phoria’. People of all types defied rules and went outside, together yet apart, to enjoy the ice. Lockdown routines were broken to catch a breath of fresh air and, at the same time, have ‘safe’ social interactions with people outside their typical bubbles.
Public space as an antidote, a cure, if only momentary, not only physically, but mentally too.