It’s 1999. I’m 11-years-old and I know I’m gay, but I don’t exactly know what gay is because the internet hadn’t quite taken off like it did at the turn of the century. My friends are playing football and listening to Korn, while I’m championing Buffy the Vampire Slayer and bumping to Britney Spears. Of course, we know all these areas of interest are stereotypes and every human – gay, straight or in between – is welcome to enjoy them. However, as I started to feel more alienated from my peers, I found solace and a safe place in pop music; despite the fact that singers were prancing around to topics I hadn’t experienced yet given that I was just about to enter middle school. Then, The Vengaboys pulled up in their now iconic party bus.
And the rest was history; just as much as my sexual awakening as their chart success. Dutch Eurodance group The Vengaboys were formed in 1996 and made their big debut in 1997. The foursome released three worldwide chart-topping albums – Up & Down (1998), The Party Album (1999) and The Platinum Album (2000) – the second of which reached #86 in America and was certified gold for sales of over 500,000 physical copies. Two decades ago, this was a much bigger deal than in 2024 as the public was required to drive to the store and purchase a CD for about $18. With a flair that combined The Spice Girls and The Village People, The Vengaboys stood out from the crowd because I felt like their music was fluid, aimed at any audience looking for a fun and silly time, and – more importantly – I felt like they were singing directly to me.
Always fronted by two women and two men – The Party Girl, The Pink Girl, The Sailor and The Cowboy – The Vengaboys were hailed as the Best-Selling Dance Group by World Music Awards for three years in a row. This accomplishment was undoubtedly fueled by internationally successful singles including Up & Down (#1 on Dance), We Like to Party (#5 on Dance) and Boom Boom Boom Boom (#13 on Dance), the latter two having managed to also chart on the Billboard Hot 100. Then, when the world needed them the most – they vanished. Dropping the Avatar script for a second, The Vengaboys broke up in 2002 when two members of the group departed for other adventures. The sound of music worldwide would change shortly there-after, but I’ve always wondered how their chart success would have mapped out if the Dutch supergroup stayed together.
Throughout middle school and high school, I continued to play The Vengaboys on my iPod on at least a monthly basis. I had assumed that I was the only one who remembered Kim Sasabone, Denise Post-Van Rijswijk, Robin Pors, Roy den Burge and Yorick Bakker because no one else was talking about them. At that point, I was definitely gay and seeing my first boyfriend and continued to highlight the We Like to Party singers as one of the influencers who helped me come to terms with my sexuality by just having an outlet to grove to. Oh, how I often pictured myself killing it on the dance floor at some obnoxious club while Boom Boom Boom Boom blew out my eardrums. It’s possible that this was happening in real life for gay men and women old enough to go to clubs, but I steered clear of that atmosphere because, well, I can’t dance for shit. But, I’m more than willing to try if instructed by The Vengaboys!
This isn’t where the story ends, however, because the group got back together in 2007 with replacement member Donny Latupeirissa. This happened, unbeknownst to me, because the love of the fans has been and always will be massive. After several reunion gigs, The Vengaboys released a handful of singles, including Rocket to Uranus and Hot Hot Hot, which managed to chart in the Netherlands and the UK between 2010 and 2016. Also during this time, they released a holiday album titled The Xmas Album. While my favorite girl-boy group has released remix albums and remastered, The Xmas Album was their last catalog of original material. It goes without saying that their history in dance-pop music established them as legends in the genre, and the demand from fans has kept ticket sales flowing all the way to 2024.
The Vengaboys have 36 concert dates announced so far this year; four of them being at Pride events. This appears to be the culmination of 90’s music being popular again and the singers knowing exactly where the core of their audience identifies. With men just like me. Music legends, yes, but gay icons? Most definitely! Three of the members are gay. Their charisma, wit and “no shits given” attitude rivals anything you’ll see on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Their music speaks directly to the LGBT community. And, hey, overall they just seem like cool people – at least based on what’s available on social media. The fact that The Vengaboys are large and in charge and getting out there for the gays means that maybe there is a chance I can see them live or enjoy their music at an event. I can always hope, right? Stranger things have certainly happened!
Are you a fan of The Vengaboys? I’d love to hear – read, technically – your stories. Did you see them in concert? Did you earn their merchandise? Have you seen them in person in recent years? Share everything in the comments section and let me be completely envious of you.