Amsterdamaged : From Club NL to Trouw

I can honestly say I have never had a bad experience in Amsterdam, and this weekend was equally excellent. Lets start at the beginning and I’ll tell you all about it.

The flight over was a little strange. I was sat in seat 18b between two quiet attractive girls. I said my hellos to them and settled down to an enjoyable flight over chatting to some strangers as you do, but no. Girl on my left read a magazine the whole way, and girl on my right put earbuds in and listened to music. I sat in the middle, awkwardly. Im heading over to see Dale Middleton DJ at Club NL and spend the weekend with him and his two mates James and Stewart.

I’ll never get used to how far you have to taxi into Schipol airport, it seems to take days! But I’m swiftly through the checks and I head off to the hotel. Ibis Amsterdam Centre Stopera is about half way along Valkenbergenstraat towards the east of the main city. After leaving Amsterdam Centraal train station, it’s a scenic walk east along Prins Hendrikkade towards the IJtunnel. Across from me, the gigantic green Science centre glistens in the sunshine like a huge metal hull bereft of sails and nestled alongside the wooden galleys of Hollands proud nautical past. I promise myself the next time I’m here, I should actually go check out these places, that’ll be in October for ADE… we’ll see.

After checking into the hotel and freshening up, I head off to the bar to wait for the guys. It’s a long wait, the promoter has met them from the airport and they are doing a sound check. A friend – Guy, better known as Josh Dupree was in a DJ competition at a club called Studio 80 down the road from me in Rembrandt Square, and as the guys are busy for at least the next hour, I decide to go to see him. Although the club is only 10 minutes walk away, I get really lost. When I do arrive at the club, the bouncer is not very keen to let me in, but I persuade him and catch the last twenty minutes of Guys set. He is destroying the room and the handful of people there totally succumb to his performance. I have time to quickly say hello afterwards, but just then Dale calls and I head back to the hotel to meet them. Dale Middleton is fast becoming one of my favourite DJs this year. His take on the progressive sound is measured, melodic and mesmerising. With a string of ever increasingly high profile tracks and remixes, it’s no surprise that he has caught the attention of the A list elite with Sasha, Nick Warren and Hernan Cattaneo among his legion of fans. Given this build up, Dale is a surprisingly down to earth, laid back fella. He greets me with the familiarity of a close family friend and introduces me to his best mates Stewart and James. The four of us share a beer and get to know one another before we head out into the cool Dutch night and take Club NL by storm.

Club NL on Neuwezijds Voorbugwal is around the corner from Madame Tussaud’s on Dam Square in the heart of tourist Amsterdam. Despite this, the club retains an air of mysterious ambivalence nestled amongst a row of retail outlets and coffee shops with the famous Supper club to its rear. Inside, its darkened bar gives way to an already pretty full dance floor. And even though it’s a small venue, some 250 people, it has a sophisticated vibe. We are greeted at the door by the two of the promoters – Ruthy and Sandra. They immediately buy us a drink and give us a quick tour of the place — the Dutch are nothing if not genial hosts! After plying us with yet more drinks, the girls head off to chat with some of the regulars. On the decks Ruthy’s boyfriend Jurriaan aka Chorris is weaving a devastating progressive trance tale which the crowd are tangibly excited by. The thunderous sound system considering the size of the venue, is crystal clear and a joy to play on. The guys wander off into the night and Dale and I have a moment to chat about music. He tells me about one of his most recognised tunes – Ando. It turns out that it is in fact named after James, one of the guys with us. Dale always sends him new tracks to get opinions. He normally labels the zip file Ando, (his nickname) but on this occasion he mistakenly sent it to the record label, and so the name stuck.

Chorris has whipped the crowd into such a frenzy with his set that Dale decides to dive right in and continue at pace. Over the next two hours we are treated to a smattering of Dales releases, including the aforementioned Ando and also as a complete shock to me, my new track ‘Sometimes my Mind Wanders’ which I had sent to Dale about a week before. He ends the night with the stone cold classic Robert Babicz – Dark Flower, which goes down really well, rounded off with his excellent remix of Amber Long and Robert Mason – Eggshells. A proper end of the night track! Satisfied and drunkenly singing the chorus, the crowd disperse quickly and we sit at the back of the club as the bar staff busily collect glasses and clear up. I remark on a time, when as a DJ, I would be tasked with clearing up, they snigger — times have changed old man!

Woozy with Heineken bought from a vending machine at the hotel, we shower and head out for the day. Its about 12 noon and I’ve been awake for about 3 hours already (who’s the old man now huh)? We wander into tourist Amsterdam along Jodenbreestraat towards Nieumarket and onward to De Oude Kerk in the heart of the red light district. Stewart had never been to Amsterdam before, and as with every repressed Brit, a place which allows you to smoke pot and pay for sex always appeals more than the traditional tourist activities! We wander down the Warmoestraat towards Dam Square next; we need to get some stock shots for the video diary the boys are putting together. Dam Square is bustling with all manner of tourists. Backpackers, elderly coach parties and over excited kids with over tired parents litter the street basking in the brilliant summer sun. The rest of the afternoon is spent in and around the red light district getting drunk and waiting for the football to start – Holland vs. Argentina. We buy commemorative replica shirts, well, I do…

As evening greets us, we make plans to head off to our next party destination – Trouw. We are meeting up with Jurriaan and Joeri, the DJs from the night before. Trouw is hosting the Martinez Brothers and from seeing them previously, I know we are in for a real treat tonight. Trouw has a fearsome reputation, much like Germany’s Berghain it’s a gigantic refurbished factory space, it towers above us as we pull up in the taxi. The queue looks small, but its pretty early still so we head over. We are quickly inside and I’m taken aback by the architecture and minimalism of the entrance hall. To my left an art gallery space, while to my right an immense cloak room. We head upstairs to the club space and walk along side the dance floor. Its probably the biggest club I’ve seen outside of Ibiza, its massive! Huge bass speakers hang from the roof some 30 metres above us. Rumbling bass fills the room and the packed dance floor gyrates along to the sound track of wonky tech house. We pick our spot and groove and as the Martinez Brothers get going some short 20 minutes later, we notice the room pick up pace. Over the next 3 hours an onslaught of powerful and groovy house music keeps us locked on the floor. This is a clubbers club, no ornate pictures here, no fancy pyrotechnics, this is down and dirty, like a good warehouse rave ought to be.

I leave around 4am with Jurriaan who is heading home. I have a ridiculously early flight and from experience, I decide to leave the club before I have too much of a good time and miss my plane home. As we walk back to his car we chat about his night and Dales performance. I’m always genuinely happy to meet like minded music fans and Jurriaan is one of the most eloquent people I’ve met, his face lights up when he discusses music. We get to the car, which is a couple of kilometres from the club in a back street somewhere in the East side of Amsterdam. It’s an electric car to my surprise and amazement – I’m about to have another mad car trip in Holland (you may remember the last time I was here I was the passenger in a lawnmower car) The thing that strikes me first, and yes I am a little drunk by this point, is how quiet electric cars are. Its pretty fast too Juuriaan delights in showing me. As we speed off towards the airport along Middenweg and onto the main motorway the scene of the city melts away into suburbia. With Nieuwe Meer to our left we see the lights of Schipol Airport begin to come into focus. It’s a massive airport and pretty eerie in the early hours remiss of people. I find my gate and head off towards it. This weekend has been another amazing trip and as I sit waiting for the gate to open, I reminisce over our antics. Slowly, I drift off to sleep for an hour, but luckily I wake up in time for my flight.

Hats off Amsterdam, you are now my official favourite party destination!