World Dance Music Capital 01: Amsterdam.

Words by: I-Voice
Posted: 13/10/08 16:46

"A new feature on IV - 'World Dance Music Capital'. Over the coming months we will be embarking on a globetrotting tour looking for the world's greatest party destinations and clubbing hotspots. We will be providing a breakdown of the key clubs along with party information, latest news and useful links. To coincide with the ADE conference, we start off in Amsterdam."

W e Love Amsterdam. It is a truly majestic effervescent place, a cultural and historical centre of Europe for centuries that has enjoyed the great and good as citizens; Rembrandt and Albert Camus, Fahrenheit and Cruyff. It is a city that shows off the great traditions of European culture yet has a tangible youthful vibrancy that is often lost in larger capitals. Just like Ibiza, the magic of Amsterdam must be considered as more than the sum of its parts.  

When it comes to dance music, Amsterdam, and Holland for that matter, has been a pioneer for particular sounds such as gabber and trance whilst continually stimulating the growth of the scene into the fully fledged cultural movement we see today. Perhaps the sound most associated with Holland, trance, has elevated artists like Tiesto, Armin Van Buuren and Ferry Corsten to the very top of the dance music tree.

Amsterdam itself is continually advancing the boundaries of what is possible within dance music - true pioneers. Sensation (White) attracts 40,000 into the Amsterdam Arena, where all attendees have to dress….yes, in white! Outdoor multi-arena festival DanceValley, started in 1995, was a precursor to modern day festivals brands like Creamfields and Exit. In 2007, arena filler Tiesto even played the Luggage Hall at SchipholAirport! Now, that's what I call different. Furthermore, in the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE), the dance music industry has a business forum that is actually conducive to doing business and providing momentum to keep the scene fresh and innovative. 

We continue below with a selection of Amsterdam's nightspots, attempting to cover everything from the more intimate spots through to the full on Amsterdam rave experience. As always, we welcome your comments and experiences of clubbing in Amsterdam, please contribute at the bottom of the page.

The first word though must go to Club 11, perhaps Amsterdam's most seminal club, which was finally forced to close this summer after 4 years in a building that had been due for demolition even when the events first began. Even though it doesn't exist anymore, it's impossible to mention Amsterdam clubs without paying homage to Club 11. RIP!

:: Club Guide
"Real clubbers go to Panama"; that was what locals told me the first time I visited Amsterdam, and they weren't wrong. This 1400 capacity venue housed in a former industrial space has seen everyone from Digweed to Dubfire to Danny Howells recently.

Like many Amsterdam clubs, there is an on-site restaurant (recommended) that, depending on the night, grants free access to the club also. Panama maybe located a little 'out of the way', near the harbour, but this shouldn't deter, it is still only 2 stops and a walk from Central Station or a 10-15 minute taxi ride from the city.

Tip: Check listings before you go, as the music, crowd and consequently, atmosphere can vary from night to night.

Oostelijke Handelskade 4 Amsterdam, NH NL 1019 BM
Tel: +31 (0)20 311 86 86 
With a huge capacity of over 5000, this was Amsterdam's first megaclub located near the Amstel station, so a taxi from the centre will cost €15-20. The large interior is capable of creating a special atmosphere when rockin and, like many Amsterdam clubs, there are great chill out spaces with plenty of comfy sofas, including a beautiful outdoor terrace by the water's edge. A combination of residents and Dutch talent keeps the music in the house to tough electro-house camp, but there are regular big names guests also with 2008 having seen Paul Woolford, Derrick May and Kerri Chandler to name a few.

Tip: Amsterdam's clubs are renowned for their strict door policies. 'Zone' may be one of the better ones, but dress up and save yourself the worry.

Spaklerweg Amsterdam, NH NL 1096 BD
Tel: +31 (0)20 681 88 66
Another large venue, this is a proper dance music club, frequented by people who like their dancefloor time and high energy nights out but with style. It's location on Rembrandtplein puts it in the heart of Amsterdam's nightlife.

Inside Escape you'll experience ultra-modern lighting, sound and decoration, which, when combined with multi-level, multi-room layout, gives the club a charismatic charm.
The majority of promotions are external, read Tiesto and David Guetta events as evidence of the calibre of guest, with 4/4 house and trance being the order of the day typically.

Tip: The entry queue on Saturday nights can get very big, so arrive early to beat it.

Location: Rembrandtplein 11 Amsterdam, NH NL 1017 CT
Tel: +31 (0)20 622 11 11 
Centrally located, Melkweg is a cultural and arts centre open day and night offering live music, club nights, dance and theatre facilities as well as a café-restaurant and photo gallery.
Despite this, the largest space is actually the 1000 capacity only 'The Max' where you can expect to see dance acts like Ladytron, Pendulum, Hot Chip in the near future. Clubbing wise, Klinch provides the brand name that has hosted Derrick Carter and Erol Alkan and welcomes recent Ibiza Voice podcasters Sebo K and Anja Schneider. Due to its multi-purpose function, Melkweg attracts a mixed young crowd, which varies depending on the particular event but is always friendly.

Tip: Melkweg is near Leidseplein, one of the busiest spots in the whole of Amsterdam, which, although a tourist hotspot, provides an endless supply of bars, restaurants and cafes.

Location:  Lijnbaansgracht 234a Amsterdam, NH NL 1017 PH
Tel: +31 (0)20 531 81 81 
The Sand
Another multi-use clubbing destination, this time one that is used as an indoor beach arena used for sports particularly volleyball. Seriously!
When converted into a dance venue every weekend, the result is a 5,000 capacity space that has enjoyed heavyweights like Erick Morillo and has also been the venue of choice for the Cocoon and M-nus gang previously, and will be during ADE. Forthcoming are Roger Sanchez and Tiesto.

Tip: Tickets for Amsterdam club events can be bough in advance, check out music and record stores in the city.

Location:  Rhoneweg 36 Amsterdam, NH NL 1043 AH
Tel: +31 (0)20 614 72 52
Another Leidseplein venue, and like Melkweg, more famous as a live venue including part of the "5 Days Off" festival each year in July.

Check listings for the club events with international DJs that are interspersed amongst the dominant live music policy.

Take your camera, this former church means the architecture of the building is stunning.

Location: Weteringschans 6-8 Amsterdam, NH NL 1017 SG
Tel: +31 (0)20 626 45 21    
Gashouder, Westergasfabriek
The legendary Awakenings parties are held here; hosting approximately 10 or so of the finest underground house and techno events each year.

For the November 2008 dates, Ricardo, Jeff Mills and Mauro Picotto, amongst others, are guests.
Tip: Awakenings always sells out in advance, so get your tickets early.

Location: Pazzanistraat 41 Amsterdam NH NL 1014 DB
Tel: +31 (0) 20 586 07 10 
Studio 80
A central location on Rembrandtplein betrays this cool underground site. Popular with the trendier crowd, the tiny 300 capacity venue provides a platform for upcoming producers and smaller promoters around Holland. With a clear Berlin influence, techno and minimal sounds dominant, Bpitchcontrol artists provide an example of the recent vibe at the club.

Tip: Update your wardrobe before paying a visit.

Location: Rembrandtplein 17 Amsterdam, NH NL 1017 AC
Tel: +31 (0)20 521 83 33 
Sugar Factory
In the heart of the action opposite Meltweg, we encounter another theatre, live music venue and club all rolled into one.
An ecletic mix of external promoted events don't tend to attract the big names but the weekly dose of cutting edge electronic sounds, with more local and or up-and-coming names, should satisfy the typical clubber.

Tip: This is the perfect Plan B venue, if you can't get in elsewhere.

Location: Lijnbaansgracht 238 LEIDSEPLEIN - Amsterdam, NH NL
Tel: +31 (0)20 627 00 08
Jimmy Woo
New Hong Kong style inspired venue with stunning design and décor, including an illuminated ceiling with 12,000 tiny light bulbs, which has attracted the likes of George Clooney and Pharrell Williams when they've been in town.

If you're not on the guestlist, and even if you are, you have to get past the door bitch who takes sadistic pleasure from the superstrict door policy.

Tip: Don't bother going!

Location: Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 18 Amsterdam, NL 1017 RC 
Tel: +31 (0)20 626 31 50
Club NL
Regular haunt for the celebs, from footballers to the Mick Jagger type Jet Set, this stylish club is the 'sophisticats' choice of venue. Whilst the vibe is typically soulful and groovy house, guests have included Ricardo, Rui Da Silva & Trentemoller.

Tip: Try a cocktail here.  
Location: Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal 169 Amsterdam, NH NL 1012 RK 
Tel: +31 (0)20 622 75 10
Another weird venue, this time on a ship! This former fishing trawler hosts quality underground house and techno music nights. 
Wear ear plugs!
Location: Current Port Amsterdam
NDSM Werf Oost, opposite tt. Neveritaweg 44 Amsterdam NH NL  1033
Tel:  +49 381 201 0000
:: Others In Brief 
Location of some of Holland's key dance music festivals. Awakenings and the incredible DanceValley are just two of these.|
Amsterdam Arena
Home to the Sensation parties  
A club (and bar/restaurant) under the stands of the old Olympic stadium!
NDSM Docklands
Large multi-use space that is regular host to festivals during the summer.
Flexbar, Westergasfabriek
Neighbour of Gashouder, Flex Bar is a much smaller two room venue hosting smaller and local promoters that cover the whole spectrum of dance music sounds.
Another Restaurant/bar come club and again with a stylish interior of wood and bamboo. Music policy of house and electro but without any big names means it's more style than content for this tourist heavy venue.
Hotel Arena
Yet another oddball venue. In a fantastic century old church with original features, this place also doubles as a fully functioning hotel. Music is generally funky house, disco and soulful grooves. Has previously hosted Hed Kandi events.
Dating back to the 17th century, this gloriously restored concert hall had visitors like David Bowie and Elton John in its heyday. Now it offers a good restaurant and bar as well an old fashioned style dance hall; not cutting edge but not trying to be either.
Club home
Formerly Sinners club, this intimate venue is designed like your home, so along with a main room, there is a living room complete with bookcases and armchairs and also bedroom too- weird. No nonsense house vibes dominant the music policy.
Useful links
Official government site(Dutch)
Portal for international visitors
Official tourism board site(Dutch & English)
Amsterdam Dance Event 2008 Program
Amsterdam Dance Event 2008 The parties


Roberto Capuano
Politics Of Dancing
Ralph Lawson