You know how much I love coming to Amsterdam. I wrote a few times last year about my adventures there, and each time was a unique experience. About this time last year of course was the now infamous tattoo incident! (for the record never agree to a tattoo after two thirds of a bottle of gold Tequila). Well, this trip was the first time I’ve managed to catch up with my tattooist, Andrew, and I’ve never laughed as much as we did that day. I also met up with some British mates, my ever reliable Dutch family and chatted with Guy J. GUY J!
But I’m getting ahead of myself, lets rewind back to the start of my first King’s Day. I woke up with a stinking headache and really sore legs (anyone whose seen the video my editor posted on his wall will know why). After a shower and a seriously filling manwich, I headed off to Amsterdam with Damion and his lovely fiance Lisa – they had graciously opened their home to me and their couch is by far one of the comfiest I’ve slept on in many years.
We were meeting up with Andrew, a Canadian expat and Jamie his wonderful Dutch wife. Its been over a year since I’ve seen them, so I was excited to catch up. Strolling through the warm spring sunshine in central Amsterdam, I was struck by the air of nationalism the Dutch people have. Orange filled the streets; flags, banners, funny hats and glasses, everyone was out for a good time. As we had gotten ready to leave national Dutch TV had been showing the King and his family celebrating in the south of the country in true regal style.
The streets were busy. I know its always busy in Amsterdam, but this was different; there was purpose to the masses of people – Koningsdag. The Kings birthday. Its not his real birthday, but that day allocated for a national holiday and country wide celebration, and boy, do the Dutch know how to throw a party! The Dutch government even gives promoters money to put on lavish shows and book the very best DJs from across the musical spectrum. Amsterdam was awash with music. Everything from disco house and tribal drums to gabber and hard dance was covered. We met up at a small Thai restaurant by the De Oude Kerk (The Old Church) and had a few drinks and a chat and I showed them my tattoo. Predictably, they laughed. Their visit was fleeting though and soon they had to head off as we were booked on a boat party leaving at 5pm.
Hosted by Jerry van Schie from Groovecollection Bookings on board the luxurious Supperclub Cruise boat, it featured two rooms of seriously talented DJs. The lower deck was for a select group of ClubNL’s residents including friends of ours, Paul Sparkes and Justin Steel, and headlined by Mr Manual Music – Paul Hazendonk. Up on the top deck was Jerry and his mates in a 4 person tag team warming up for Eelke Kleijn and a brilliant back to back extended set by Hernan Cattaneo and Guy J. Both rooms were stellar.
Waiting for the doors of the boat to open was a chilly experience. The weather had gotten windy on the dock, and the sun hid for periods behind the clouds dropping the temperature significantly. Waiting with us was Damions production partner Alex Preda and his girlfriend. We were firm friends within minutes, helped by a shared love for music and Alex’s wacky sense of humour, we were finally joined by Paul Hazendonk looking decidedly sheepish after a big night on the tiles.
Once inside the boat, and with cool deep beats as a sonic back drop, I had a little look around my home for the next 5 hours. The main deck was huge and sparsely decorated; classy and functional. All around the edge of the room seating was steadily being filled with excited revelers. True to form, it was an older crowd. None of those fly by night shuffling hipsters here, just proper dance fans looking forward to a night of blissful beats and hip shaking bass lines. Out back was a smoking deck, again gradually being populated, meanwhile downstairs was a totally different affair. Perspex covered the windows and the majority of the floor was taken over by an enormous bedded area. House music filled the air, and you would be forgiven to thinking we were back at dock.
By about 6.30 the boat set sail along the river heading East. I took a few shots of the scenery as we passed crazy space aged buildings and enormous floating restaurants, the music inside began to build in intensity, as a frenetic four man tag team played a wonderful b2b2b2b set. Next up was Eelke Kleijn who was marvelous as usual. His signature deep and intelligent take on the house scene has been particularly inspiring to me personally as an artist, and it was a great shame I didn’t have an opportunity to stay for the whole set or chat to him after, but I was off downstairs following a text, to witness the funniest dance off I’ve ever seen between Alex Preda and my editor Damion ( I have video evidence!). On the decks was an hysterical Paul Hazendonk laughing so hard he nearly messed up his mix.
A little later and back upstairs Hernan and Guy J had taken control. Silky smooth melodies glistened amid the waves of warm bass and skippy percussion. The two DJs navigated the sea of smiling faces with consummate ease and each record sounded as if they were written specifically for this very set. I see a familiar face in the crowd and head over, its a DJ friend from Manchester called Darren, he introduces me to his group and we shake hands and dance together. Another familiar face comes into view, its Alex Preda, mesmerized by the perfect soundtrack concocted by two of the scenes foremost stars.
After a short while we head back downstairs for the final time to show support for Justin Steel who is closing the downstairs room. More organic and house orientated, Justin takes over from a groovy Paul Sparkes set injecting his own brand of music from the off. A seasoned DJ, Justin deftly moves from peak time beats into more languid, late night deep house sound; his wife and number one fan Natasha, dances wildly around the room while at the back on the bedding area a group of Philapinos gyrate and giggle. This room has as much energy as upstairs, just a few less people. We dock about 45/50 minutes before the end, and slowly people start to drift off, some to the next party, some home. We stay until about 10 minutes before the end, but our train home is due shortly and we make our way back to centraal station and onwards to Hilversum.
I’ve said before that Amsterdam is one of my favourite clubbing locations, and this event has solidified that in spades. The host Jerry and the crew aboard the Supperclub Cruise boat were wonderful and we all had a great night out …hold on! I forgot to mention meeting Guy J! …so, there I am waiting at the bar for a drink. The bar staff seem to be serving everyone else around me and I can’t get them to make eye contact, frankly, its doing my head in, then I see Damion the other side of the bar with Guy J. He beckons me over and I go. He introduces me and we shake hands. Its one of those surreal moments when you don’t really know what to say or do, and so you kinda just stand there awkwardly and try to work out a polite way to move away. Luckily, Guy’s attention was taken by an attractive woman asking for an autograph. Next time Guy J, next time I’ll actually have a conversation with you….
Photos by Luutse Brouwer