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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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As ADE bubbles on and the week starts to hit its stride, we make a journey across town to another new club, except this time, we’re taking the ferry there and it’s not as established as De School. It’s opening night and we’re actually the first people in. As we cross the river from Centraal station to the astonishing ADAM Tower, it’s the middle of the afternoon and bitterly cold. We’re looking for Shelter, a brand new club opening thanks to funding from the Tower, making the multi-million euro venture one of the most-talked about venues in the city.

Promising a programme that covers house, techno and everything in between, Shelter is the talk of ADE and who can blame the industry professionals and professional ravers from around the world for getting excited. The feeling you get walking into unchartered territory in clubland is a rare, eye-opening thing, one that should be relished but when we arrive before the official opening, we struggle to even find the place.

“What’s probably the most striking thing is that before you enter the club, there’s a hatch sunk into the ground in front of Amsterdam Tower. It’s a hydraulic hatch and when it shuts and you walk over you have no idea you’re walking over the club. We are literally underground, so that’s one of the coolest features for sure,” says Milan Van Ooijen.

Later on, thick beams of light eminate from the hatch, inviting us into some sort of intergalactic portal to a new dimension. As 1am swings around, we walk down and around dark, stylish corridors with sleek black walls that bare 3D markings and futuristic structuring. It’s a one-room club that holds around 800 people. The dark, enchanting space is reached through a set of heavy double doors and is like that of an underground car park; pillars hold the ceiling up and cool, grey concrete gives everything a clean, calculated yet modernistic feel, with hanging light bulbs above the bar winking toward the joyously sleazy feel of Amsterdam.

The booth is at the back of the room, on ground level (common to clubs in the city) and boy does that music sound incredible, thanks to four Funktion One stacks that emit thick, warm, bassy vibrations.

“Even though our appearance is maybe a little bit modern, our take is a look back at the core principles of clubbing. Simplicity is key,” Milan says. “We have made sure that the very basics of having a successful club night are in place and we want people to have an unforgettable night.”

“This really comes down to the quality of the sound and there’s been a lot of effort put into not only the soundsystem but also the sound experience itself. There is a row of 8 diffusers on the wall and also some on the ceiling. They have metal plating around them so it looks really, really nice,” he adds.

In charge of making sure that the club opens with a bang is Jackmaster, who’s brought some friends along for his Mastermix party. We see Moodymann play and the Detroit master is perhaps the perfect person to test the room out. He elegantly and intrinsically moves between disco, funk, soul, house and techno, He rolls out Bjarki’s ‘I Wanna Go Bang’ and we’ve honestly never heard it sound so big. For a song that we almost got completely sick off, it feels like we’re hearing it for the first time, a sentiment that’s testament to both the DJ and the space.

As far as new clubs go, Shelter is impressive in its programming, aesthetic and sound, the three things that need to be in place for a new spot to succeed. It gets to 5am and we head back to our hotel on the ferry, a decidedly rowdier journey this time and owning the deserved nickname of the ‘party boat’.

On Friday there’s hundreds of parties raging but we find ourselves at a familiar location, although one that’s now completely unrecognisable. The iconic Rembrandt Square has new tenants at the spot that used to be Studio 80, one of the city’s infamous clubs.

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