“Hey, you having a good night?”Amsterdam has undoubtedly gained the reputation of being an epicentre for partying, indie art movements and a non-stop raving scene.
For the past few decades, Europeans have found solace in having an ace night out; whether it’s cutting shapes to electronic music, celebrating freedom of expression, finding temporary relief from existential crises in a dingy club or excitedly initiating conversations with strangers by asking “hey, you having a good night?” Amongst the major European capitals, Amsterdam has undoubtedly gained the reputation of being an epicentre for partying, indie art movements and a non-stop raving scene. The city’s strong sense of openness, claustrophobic streets featuring numerous sketchy bars and clubs, and easy access to various substances and art in any form of expression have all helped in making the Dutch capital a party empire. However, as history shows, every empire falls sooner or later, and Berlin has been increasingly attractive to young creative-types for a fair few years now. Has Amsterdam lost its crown as king of the partying game?
As years pass by, the amount of British tourists passing out in the streets of Amsterdam has grown exponentially, clubs have started closing after 4am, Trouw, one of Amsterdam’s best underground nightclubs, was shut down, and all the squats that made the partying and art scene so prominent in the city were banned in 2010. On the surface, a substantial shift in attitude has simply turned Amsterdam into the number one destination for dull hipsters and endless bachelor parties. But if you dig a bit deeper, although it is not as wild as it was in the 80s, the city definitely still maintains its underground charm.
Here’s a list of our favourite hotspots in Amsterdam:
Various artists occupied this ex-squat in the late 90s, and, through a common effort, created a platform for alternative and experimental art. Even though the squatting aspect of the place is long-gone, it is still living up to its initial purpose; OT301 is an alternative cultural centre, with a venue for concerts, performances and workshops, a vegan-organic kitchen and
obviously a perfectly shabby basement for partying. The place has its special charm – before the building was taken over by artists, it used to be a school and it still looks like one, only now it is populated by hippies, alternative kids and stoners. Depending on the time of day, at OT301 you can count on some super progressive alternative workshops on shiatsu and the like, some up and coming indie-band playing at the bar upstairs, and an art exhibition or a trap party going on downstairs at night. And a deeply philosophical conversation with a potentially intoxicated stranger, of course.
If you are growing tired of the canals and endless coffee shops, Ruigoord is an ideal place to contemplate life, enjoy art and have a dance. Located just outside of Amsterdam, Ruigoord is a creative village that was occupied by artists in the 70s and has played a central role in the underground art scene ever since. In the middle of the peaceful atmosphere and beautiful nature, there is an old gothic church, which nowadays is affiliated with things far from holy. It is home to numerous trance, psychedelic and trap parties, as well as festivals and concerts. In the middle of the night, as you walk through the village in complete darkness and silence, you can see from afar a gloomy looking church vibrating with electro music and swarms of people flooding in and out. A bonfire outside the church contributes to the hippie atmosphere, which goes along with the typical village inhabitants. Every year Ruigoord hosts a famous Trance Orient Express Festival, Full Moon parties and various special events, exhibitions, concerts and parties.
Hidden under the bridge in the middle of the famous Vondel Park, Vodelbunker is a former bomb shelter that was built in the 1940s. Nowadays, it is a lively nightspot perfect for anyone looking for an exciting yet relaxed night. In the 60s, Vondelpark was a Mecca for hippies, and Vondelbunker, which then was known as Studio 7, regularly hosted bands, Pink Floyd being one of them. These days it functions on the basis of volunteers and offers a bunch of countercultural activities, performances, workshops, and parties.
If you happen to be around Rembrandtplein in the middle of the night surrounded by a bunch of annoyingly intoxicated American tourists, shiny commercial clubs and coffee shops, Studio 80 will be your light at the end of the tunnel. Hidden behind the massive doors and often outshined by an overrated club called Escape, Studio 80 is an intimate and dark underground club with a Berlin kind of vibe and a great choice of electronic music. It was established as a platform for up-and-coming DJs, designers and musicians to showcase their talents and continues to be hotspot for young creatives to this day.
It is not the Red Light District that makes Amsterdam sexy and slightly obscene, but the people and the places. And the list of those places is growing – sometimes unnoticeably.
Article by Mariya Moisseyeva