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Amsterdam 2.0: Europe's new club capital

The Dutch capital is a true home of dance music

  • Words: Funster | Images: Isolde Woudstra & Khris Cowley
  • 15 November 2016
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It closed its doors in January this year after 10 years of being a staple of the capital’s clubbing community. The new owners haven’t come into the acquisition with no experience of running a venue however, far from it. After putting Disco Dolly, a small bar/club with bookings that span the best in house and disco, on the city’s map, the public’s feeling of sadness and worry about Studio 80’s closure has now evolved into excitement and wonder.

“We want people who go to expect ambience and a good vibe with good feeling. We had the feeling Amsterdam was missing a club that we would go to ourselves; a space that’s really warm and ambient with lots of colour. There are lots of spaces to go to, not only just the dancefloor and the bar but also hangout spots. It’s very different to Studio 80,” says co-owner and programmer Juri Miralles, someone who’s been instrumental in bringing the new vision.

When we arrive at 3am, we’re told we might not even get in to see the club. The guestlist is swamped, the public queue is almost closed and even people with tickets are told that they’ll have to wait. The buzz is palpable and if anything we’re even more excited to get in than before.

Once in, we’re greeted by an Aztec-style entrance, one that makes you feel like you’re an extra on a grandiose movie set. There are hanging plants, temple-like structures surrounding the lockers and grassy exteriors that hang over fountains.

It’s warm, comforting and feels like home, despite the fact it’s like nowhere we’ve seen in the city. A walk upstairs to the toilets and the bright, technicolour walls, awash with vibrant patterns and flavours are a bold sight and it’s a rarity for a club to be so eye popping.

The bar is at the back of the main room, making foot flow work better than Studio 80’s old layout. That’s not to say it’s not hard to navigate, as the place is absolutely heaving and the busiest spot by far we’ve seen all week. Hardly surprising when DJ Deeon and Parris Mitchell are in charge of the music output in the main space.

Room 2 is now significantly different as well: gone is the small black space with booth by the door, instead there’s a bright, well-lit room. The wood around the venue gives it a fresh, clean feel and the wooden booth in the second room is a welcome sight, one that’s floor level as well. Slapfunk Records are hosting the space and it’s the location of choice around the club. Spanky, devious house runs riot around the Danley system, one that’s tuned to perfection and packs as much punch as the main room.

“We want Claire to be the club that Amsterdam people go to regularly, just to check it out even if they don’t know what DJs are playing. The quality of the music in Amsterdam is at a high level here. The Dutch dance scene has always been a little bit more forward-minded than anywhere else and we want to show that here,” says Juri.

As you can see, Amsterdam is in a really, really good place at the moment. Rarely does a city come across as being so in control of its nighttime industry, an example of what can happen when government, club owners and party people are all on the same page. There’s a wealth of amazing venues that put the dance first and it feels like commercialism isn’t the focus for these places, with dance music, as well as the wider community, coming first. This is an amazing time to experience new spaces, new ideas and new ways of clubbing.

Jeremy Abbott is Mixmag's Deputy Digital Editor. Follow him on Twitter

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