Arlette is a Zwollenaar

'People have really come to appreciate Zwolle'

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"'Just been there, super nice city,' I often hear people say when we go on tour and tell them we're from Zwolle. We hardly ever got that kind of reaction before. People have really come to appreciate the city," says Arlette Swartjes. The singer, showmaster and acrobat of The Bluebettes is also crazy about Zwolle in general and Assendorp in particular. On April 29 she and the band play a home game in Odeon.

Photographer: Albert Bartelds

"I used to be quite nervous before a performance in Zwolle, but nowadays I think it's mainly a party. Many people I know come to watch and it's extra nice afterwards. Unfortunately, this time we are performing again the next day. That tempers the party a bit. We are on a theater tour with the stand-up show 'Do You Wanna Dance'. Normally in the theater you talk a lot between songs, now it's all about dancing. Actually because at all the performances we were asked if it was okay to dance. That's why this time the theater turns into one big dance floor.

Metropole Zwolle

All five Bluebettes were born outside Zwolle, but are now attached to the city. My sister Geraldine, guitarist of the band, and I grew up in Dalfsen. Then you consider Zwolle a kind of metropolis. I thought, 'I want to live here', whenever we went shopping in the city. Later I cycled to the Thomas a Kempis College every day. I lived in Amsterdam for a year, but then I quickly became homesick for Zwolle. In that time I met my boyfriend. He lives in Weesp. I spend a lot of time there, but I don't want to think about leaving Zwolle for good.

Village character

Well, where does that leave us? Partly in the village character, especially in Assendorp. You have the feeling that you know everyone. Recently I left the keys in my car after a performance. Then the next day you find a bill in the bus instead of someone making off with the car. Even though things do happen in Zwolle, I feel safe here. With The Bluebettes we like to promote the city. We always make some dialect jokes. One more,' we often say before the last song. Or, 'Thunderingly cozy here tonight.' We like to show that we are proud of Zwolle.

©Raymond van Olphen
©Raymond van Olphen

Nice stores and pubs

I think I've lived here for 24 years now. I've seen the city grow in that time. For example, there used to be almost nothing to do on Sundays. That situation has really changed. So many nice stores and pubs have been added. Jaffa Jaffa, Mister Jan, just to name a few. A favorite also remains De Hetebrij on the New Market. That really is a traditional café where you can also go alone. You always get to talk to people. Everyone is equal there, it seems. Whether you're a cockroach or a tramp. I like that.


I have the same feeling in my own neighborhood on the Assendorperplein. We regularly meet up with the band members there: the children play on the square while we sit at the Nieuwe Keuken. The nice thing about Assendorp is its location. You can walk straight into town and on the other side you can quickly go into the countryside. The surroundings are beautiful of course: that's what I used to think when we cycled to Zwolle on the dike along the Vecht. Also at the Agnietenberg or in the English Work I like to walk.

The countryside

I do it far too little, but in the countryside you can also find beautiful local products. At Tuin Salland on Maatgravenweg, for example, you can buy organic fruit and vegetables. As a cooking enthusiast - I wrote a cookbook with my mother - I often go to the market on Saturdays. Piccolini Delicatessen in Assendorp is also highly recommended. Zwolle is a culinary city anyway. As far as that's concerned, I have to thank Jonnie and Thérèse Boer once again: a few years ago I won two cooking competitions on national television, including Herrie aan de Horizon in which I took part together with Mirjam Egberts. Beforehand I was allowed to take a look in the kitchen at De Librije. Without that experience, I would never have won..."

The Top 3 of Arlette Swartjes

  • "Zwolle also has a lot to offer outside the city center. The shopping streets Assendorperstraat, Thomas a Kempisstraat and Vechtstraat are great for tourists. There you may discover the real Zwolle."
  • In the summer, Music on the Square is a great attraction. Then you see all cultures and ages on the Assendorperplein. For tourists, those performances are also incredibly fun."
  • "Also for second-hand clothes you can find very good in Zwolle. For a nice store I still end up in my own neighborhood: The Shop of Astrid on the Assendorperstraat."

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