And then there are those rare sets…

The sets that move you to your core, that make the rest of the party vanish into the background as you realize you’re hearing something so special and it will never be repeated, because, of course, this is techno.

This happened to me at HYTE, a series of parties that happen in a bunch of cities around the world. It’s a tremendous organization, and the party itself was top notch, with the most amazing lighting (who was the genius who thought of pointing the lasers downwards from the ceiling, instead of out at the crowd like they always do?) It was a super cool effect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was also well organized, with enough room to move, friendly people and staff and a crowd with phones in their pockets instead of in front of their faces.

And to make it all even better was the super awesome Meetup group that showed up that night:

They were a totally into it group from Holland, Serbia, Peru and the US, they brought an amazing vibe to the night, and somehow most of us managed to stay together for most of it too.

But…the MUSIC!

The title of “Best Techno Set I’ve Ever Heard” still goes to Carl Cox during his closing season at Space. He covered the entire world of techno somehow, masterfully and brilliantly, and I’ll never forget it. But “Most Beautiful Music I’ve Ever Heard,” has now gone twice to Chris Liebing. Two years ago at Welcome to the Future, and again this past Friday night. Techno? Beautiful? Really? Really.

His signature sound is one of the strongest, deepest and most powerful basslines of any DJ out there, and he puts it at a good clip, around 130 bpm, putting it firmly in the techno category (as opposed to progressive). But then he mixes it with such divine melodies, pads, quiet moments and a story-like journey, which is all so beautiful to hear. Strength and beauty: it’s always been my goal with my own music, and it’s always what I love to hear best. Chris Liebing is my techno hero!

I recommend Hyte, I recommend Chris, and I recommend you all join me at one of our fabulous Techno Lovers Meetups with people who really love and understand techno music.

Coming from out of town? Drop me a line at dancemusiclover67@gmail.com and I’ll set you up with an event you’ll never forget.

Finally, a housekeeping note – I see the links somehow got broken on my DJ  Recommendations page. I have fixed them. Enjoy!

 

Sneeuwbal Festival – Level UP! (And Awakenings NYD)

I heard about this festival last summer and thought – wow, a DAY festival in the winter?! How cool is that? I usually have to resign myself to all nighters until the summer months when the outdoor festivals happen. Now, in this region, I believe there are only two months out of the year without a daytime festival. Nice.

In addition to capitalizing on the market for daytime techno events, this event added more to the usual formula. I used to think I was just a picky techno snob, demanding this and that, but this time I heard more people talking about the same things – it’s time for promoters to level up, and many of them are.

For example, I didn’t post to you about my visit to Awakenings on January 1, not because it wasn’t fun, but because it was the same, standard formula event that Awakenings has delivered, quite successfully, for 20 years now. That formula includes: 

  • A solid, well known lineup of trustworthy headliner artists
  • A superb, second-to-none visual production
  • Easy in, easy out, easy to get around
  • Friendly staff and security from beginning to end

This year they did up the visual display quite a bit, to the point where I just wanted to sit and watch it for a while.

 

It was Awakenings as usual: A good time and a really great show to watch.

But for events now to really stand out, be special and to earn my ticket money, this is what I’m seeing, most of which rarely can be found at Awakenings:

  • Some superstar headliners, and some special, well chosen surprise artists
  • A unique and absorbing theme or environment
  • A well mixed crowd in terms of age and diversity
  • Superb sound: this is the one I am finally hearing others talk about.
  • And finally, the magic: A crowd that *dances* and doesn’t have their phone in front of their face for more than half the party. You won’t find that Awakenings, like, ever. The show isn’t what matters so much, the people and the music matter more.

Sneeuwbal festival offered almost all of the above, except, sadly, for sound quality. It was great in some places, not in others. I heard complaints from other visitors about it, which pleased me because they should care, and I thought I was the only one. Sound can now be truly extraordinary, and for 40 or 50 euros a pop, it should be.

The ski park, snowball theme, check. The well mixed crowd – awesome and so friendly. And I even was tempted to take my phone out now and then to grab a pic, but the vibe was so “DANCE,” I just couldn’t. So I didn’t. I danced.

And for the lineup, two gems I have to recommend to you: Albert van Abbe and Klaudia Galwas. AMAZING! Albert was some pure and proper minimal techno, a la Jonas Kopp, and Klaudia was simply creative, awesome and totally unique. You have to hear her.

I had a great time communing with dear dance friends Irene and Peter from Rotterdam, and very much missed having my favorite dance partner Sasha along, but all in all I was very pleased and had such a lovely day dancing in the wintertime. I highly recommend this festival!

 

 

Secret Cinema at Club Poema in Utrecht

secret-cinemaI wondered how it would feel after Berghain, going to a small club in Utrecht for a mere 7-hour party. Would it feel like a blip, over too fast? However I knew the DJ, Secret Cinema, was a super talent, so I didn’t think it could go far wrong.

The other concern was that I had heard that Poema was frequented by very young people, which can be great or not; it just depends on how into the music vs. the beer they are. I was literally embarrassed once for world-class DJ Dubfire, when I went to a club in Den Haag and it was full of beer swilling, girl-groping frat boys, singing their own songs, arm in arm, instead of paying attention to the music. It was awful. However I saw a video clip of Secret Cinema at Poema last year and everyone looked into it, so I felt optimistic – and I was not disappointed!

poemaThe crowd was young, very friendly and into it. One of my favorite sights in the world is a man of any age, dancing happily, totally into the music. This place was full of beautiful 20-somethings with big smiles and great dance moves. Wonderful.

As usual, Secret Cinema delivered, masterfully building up the energy minute by minute. He knows what a DJ is supposed to do! He always sees me at his events (Uber-groupie here) and we connected from time to time. The result of my 14-hour “training” in Berlin meant that the end of this night seemed to come more quickly, but I still felt satisfied and went home and straight to sleep. Next event won’t be til January 1, 2017 – going to head back to Awakenings after a long break from them. What’s your next event? Let me know in the comments; I’m always interested in hearing what else is going on and what DJs I should not miss.

Happy holidays everyone!

 

Berghain – Berlin, Germany

Berlin and Berghain were everything I could have hoped for. This entry will have few pictures, because Berghain doesn’t allow them. As I will have only my memory to guide me, a nearly pictureless entry seems fitting.

My delightful new dance partner Sasha and I got into Berlin on Friday by train (no airports – joy!) and enjoyed exploring and staying the first night at a hotel. Then we stayed with friends Alex and Ami, a gay couple married 17 years now – how time flies – with whom I had partied with some 8 or 9 years ago in Berlin – and who are regulars at Berghain. They are super fun hosts and they took excellent care of us all weekend. We did touristy things on Saturday, but you’re not here to read about that!

We dreamed about getting up at 5am Sunday to catch most of Lucy, a DJ I love, but we only managed to get to the club by 8:30AM. There we bumped into our friends Alex and Diana, on their way out! They had been out all night at Kit Kat and were done.

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The line wasn’t all that long, and we went to the guest list door and observed a number of people being turned away. There was no arguing. They door guys shook their head and the people just left, sighing. The door guys chatted between themselves casually and didn’t pay attention to letting anyone in for a few minutes. But when they did, Sasha and I went right in thanks to the guest list, stored our coats and went straight to the main room to hear Lucy and let my friend Greg aka Donor know we were there. Lucy was tremendous, just as he was the one time I saw him before in Amsterdam. Amazing music. Too bad he turned out to be not such a friendly guy when I introduced myself. Bit of a “superstar”. Oh well…his music is worth it.

I really enjoyed Greg’s set and the view from the booth, and when he played a Richie Hawtin Minus Orange track from way back when (1999-2001), I had total flashbacks of being in booths together back in our day – what a treat! It was also a good chance to relax a bit before attacking the rest of the day – my plan was to stay until 10pm after Len Faki, which would definitely require pacing. Alex and Ami and their friend James joined in time and seemed to enjoy Greg’s set a lot too.

It wasn’t crowded all day, until around 8 or 9PM. There was always room to dance. The people seemed to be about 30-40% gay men, 20-30% fetish, and the rest of us, mostly reasonably mature and dressed in black or sometimes nothing at all. Only a few super flashy girls, like one super tall slinky blonde in a shiny leather bodysuit – who ended up in the back of the DJ booth later on… always with company, such as a certain superstar DJ. 😉

I like how they gave the DJs 4-5 hours sets that they can really sink their teeth into. It also meant that the music didn’t continually go up and up (how could you for such a very long event?) so each set peaked and then the next DJ started out a bit slower again and built their story up.

Next up was Norman Nodge, a Berghain resident who spun for 5 hours (!). At first I wasn’t all that impressed because he was spinning some retro 80’s and breakbeat techno, which isn’t really my thing. But it gave me a chance to chat with Greg before he left, and the last three hours of his set were amazing and by then, the party was full on.

The club is massive, but interestingly the two dancefloors were not as huge as I expected. The hugeness is the building, and all its winding corridors and hallways and places to sit and play and dark rooms and bars and a café that has sandwiches, fruit and ice cream up top. The Panorama Bar is a lovely dance room with huge windows, and it had sunshine streaming into it and a very happy, party vibe while the Berghain room was the dark, thundering place. I’ll give you one guess where I spent 100% of my time.

The sound quality was absolutely superb, no matter where in the room you danced. That came in handy when it did get crowded later. For once in my life, I didn’t feel the need to always be in front or up high. Part of it was that everyone wasn’t quite as tall as they are in the Netherlands, but also, the perfect sound and the people-watching made it fun to be just about anywhere.

The bathrooms were unacceptable, in my opinion. Clean enough, but there were only a few toilets for women and they were always occupied by groups of people doing illicit things, forEVER. For those of us who had no other choice of where to pee, this was a real problem. I think I probably spent at least 2-3 hours of my day in the bathroom lines. Sigh.

Next up was Len Faki, who didn’t impress me too much. Norman seemed much more complex and interesting, while Len’s set was simple, straightforward and minimal. He ended well, and I had thought that was when we were going to leave. However everyone had told me how good Ben Klock is, so I thought I should give him a few minutes.

OH MY WOW! Both Sasha and I were blown away by Ben Klock. We had all these adjectives to describe the other DJs, such as eclectic, complex, progressive, minimal, etc, but the only word I could come up with for Ben was “perfect”. Not too fast, not too slow, not too hard or soft, and always, but always interesting, captivating even!… and two more hours flew by before we finally admitted defeat. Ben Klock = highly recommended.

The next day was spent in recovery mode, doing little to nothing before catching the train home. I couldn’t have asked for a better few days, or better hosts or a better dance partner to share it all with. Now I just have to wonder….what, if anything, can top that?! If the answer is “nothing” I’m totally satisfied.

Welcome to the Future Daytime Indoor Festival

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Welcome to the Future does it again, and inside and in the daytime. What an ideal formula they have! The Elementenstraat Warehouse is a fantastic venue with great sound and a nice underground vibe. After feeling somewhat disappointed with the most recent Dockyard Festival’s sound quality (due to being in tents instead of actual rooms), I was so happy to find everything here just perfect.

I went with my new partner in crime, Sasha, and was set to meet up with a bunch more techno lovers throughout the day. On arrival, we were treated to DJ Mirella Kroes, and I soon realized that this set was going to be very special. She started out completely ambient, and slowly worked us up into a total frenzy. Let me note that this is NOT EASY to do, taking a room from empty and filling it up so early in an event. She took a pic of us at the end of her set,wttf maybe you can find me somewhere in the corner there… 😉

 

 

 

Next up was Joran van Pol, who I first saw this summer at a little local rave called “The Neighbors,” which frankly was not one of the most exciting events I attended this year, that is, until Joran came on. WOW! Soooo glad I stayed for him, and so glad to see him on the lineup for this event.

joranHe’s super talented and recently I caught him on Facebook doing a live, interactive session where he worked on his tracks and took questions. I loved it! So when he arrived at WTTF I had to introduce myself, and he is a total sweetheart. I love it when they are such nice people.

Our friends gradually arrived during his set, and I could tell they were blown away as well. I expect Joran is going straight to the top, just as he deserves. Catch him if you can!

The best part of all? Everyone was dancing and no one had their phone in front of their face. Awesome vibe.

Then came our beloved Cari Lekebusch, playing with a lady DJ named Zoe. I enjoyed the set, but didn’t particularly enjoy the MCing of Zoe – I never have a need for anyone to talk to me or sing to me during a techno set. Still, I liked their music, and his infectious smile and enthusiasm are always a joy to watch.

See what I mean? 🙂

Next up was Egbert, simply not one of my favorites. I wandered around the rest of the event restlessly until the next DJ, who was also good but not great. I can’t even remember who it was – so as you can see, the event started out super strong and the music kind of petered out slowly from there. By the time the last DJ came on, Dave Clarke, I was exhausted and had to leave. He’s a bit too hard and fast for my taste anyway.

Overall, despite the moderate musical decline, I’m really pleased with how the event went, the sound quality, and the overall vibe of both the people and the venue. It’s events like this that make me feel that Awakenings just doesn’t deliver quite the unique experience some of these other organizations do. WTTF knows what they are doing!

 

 

 

Amsterdam Dance Event 2016

It is my favorite time of year again! For 5 days in October, the entire city lights up with yellow and black flags and events are everywhere (and I mean everywhere) from big to small, free to super expensive and everything in between.

ADE 1

After being exhausted last year from trying to do something each day or night, this year I was only going to go to two events: Afterlife on Thursday night and Dockyard on Saturday during the day, with a nice day off in between. I almost stuck to that plan…

First twist in the schedule came when I read about a free “secret” basement rave underneath a bookstore in the Red Light District – that sure sounded fun! And one of the DJs last year was Gregor Tresher – can’t go wrong with that. Maybe 50-100 people maximum. As it was in the afternoon of Thursday, I thought I could probably fit it in. Then when Secret Cinema posted about it as if he’d be there, I was in. I had to wait two hours in line (and I really, really hate waiting in line…) but I’m glad I did.

Here’s a good video that gives you the vibe (only on FB, unfortunately), but this was the place, below the bookstore Mary Go Wild: MGW1
It was hot and sweaty and friendly and whooping and we were inches from the DJs. Cool.

Next was a stop at a Chinese restaurant for wonton noodle soup, my new absolutely favorite in-between parties replenishment meal. There I met new friend Sasha and off we went with Rowine to Afterlife, an event I selected because it was put together by Tale of Us, my favorite DJ duo of the moment.

afterlife 1I hoped they would choose other artists who share their passion for more spiritual and melodic, yet still pounding techno. However, I had not heard of many of the artists they chose, and that was ok with me because I thought I would take it very easy that night in anticipation of Dockyard, which was sure to be the most killer party of all. I’d probably get home by 3am at the latest.

Yeah, right.

Sasha and Rowine were fabulous company! Rowine had heard of many of these artists and she happily showed me around. Tale of Us did indeed choose artists that all offered the kind of deep techno I am in the mood for these days. And, I found an absolute new favorite, DIXON. I still don’t know how to adequately describe the journey he took us on.

The video doesn’t capture any of the incredible visuals that accompanied his set. I can’t even call him a mere DJ because it was a full audio and visual experience, but some of the power of his music is captured here. Give it time. Give it the whole 7 minutes to feel the vortex as he drew us in. This is not your usual techno. As I mentioned, I was saving up my energy for Saturday so I avoided drinking too much and I know what I saw and heard were all real. Then of course I had to stay for Tale of Us….who were also outstanding, but it was still just a DJ set…and then it was 6am and the party was over. So much for getting home early!

I did take it extremely easy the next day, venturing out only for pasta (more replenishment) and just to stroll around lovely Amsterdam in the fall. I headed back to the hotel early at 8pm to get ready for bed, and what did I find there in Centraal Station but an excellent techno party happening right in the middle of it!Centraal ADE I mean really good sound, and really good music. Everyone from old to young, local and foreign, were all getting down together, which was a lovely sight. I was so happy that people got to hear some great techno, helping dispel the myth that it’s all boring repetitive nonsense. I had to dance just a little bit, ya know…fortunately for me it ended at 9pm.

Then the last event for me was Dockyard, a festival I’ve been to twice and enjoyed thoroughly each time.dockyard 1 I was excited to introduce my new friend Costyn to the festival and to the music, and to my friends as well. Unfortunately, Dockyard didn’t live up to the last two editions. I thought they generally moved too quickly into the hard stuff, and the music didn’t get good until Monika Kruse came on at 5pm. She and Art Department  were perhaps the best of show for the whole night. Dubfire was pretty innovative as well. But overall, it seemed a bit lacking in…something. Part of it was the tent environment vs. the club that Afterlife was held in, Mediahaven, which seriously has the best sound system I’ve ever heard. Even with Funktion 1, in tents it just doesn’t come across quite as well. I did have, however, a fantastic Meetup group that actually managed to come together all at once and stay together for quite a while – that rarely happens. Thanks, fun people!

And my new LED shoes, oh my! I think I would have become independently wealthy that night had I had a booth with them for sale. They were a HUGE hit! shoesI didn’t expect they’d be so unusual, but I got a zillion compliments on them, and they were comfy, too. You can buy them here: CIOR Mens Womens Boys Girls 11 Colors Led Sneakers Light Up Flashing Shoes. 

So that about sums it up! It took me a couple of days to recover, but I am now full of happy memories of another year’s ADE…and am already planning my November and New Year’s events, so stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ibiza – Not Just for Techno Anymore

Just got back last night. Before I left, I remember thinking that this would probably be my last trip to Ibiza, especially seeing as I don’t particularly like doing all nighters anymore, and that’s when the techno plays in Ibiza. Instead, I’ve come home feeling like I’ll definitely go back, even with the closing of Space and the departure of our beloved Carl Cox.

Somehow, I managed to see this twice, without feeling like killing myself: Sunrise. The rest of the time, with lovely friends Kerri and Michelle, we dozed on the beach, ate near the sea, slept a lot and of course, danced ourselves silly. Twice – first at Space with the legendary Carl Cox and second at Amnesia with Marco Carola.

20160907_073626_resizedWhat I haven’t yet figured out is exactly what happened at Space. All the DJs prior to Carl Cox (David Squillace, Nina Kraviz and Eats Everything), all seasoned top global DJs, were so incredibly boring! We literally stood around from 11pm til 3am hoping. And then Carl Cox got on and spun the set of a lifetime. He’s closing Space and departing, and I felt like he pulled out all the stops to show us the entire world of techno. What a true legendary master of the genre. It was incredible. But how could all the others do so badly? That is a mystery to me.IMG-20160911-WA0000_resized

During our recovery period, we saw incredible sunsets at the hotel like this one. We were so able to relax, I figure that’s why we were able to recover so well and do it all again a couple of days later. Then it was on to Music On with Marco Carola. I have to say, Amnesia is probably the nicest club I’ve ever seen, anywhere. Just a beautiful design with amazing visuals, plenty of “up high” places for short people like me, and a superb sound system. Too bad Marco Carola never did it for me musically all night long. I was very surprised about that. I preferred Apollonia in the other room, although they were nowhere near as amazing as Carl Cox. Still, in such a beautiful club with great friends, good music was enough to make the night a total success. Our friend Michelle went there for Hyte a couple of nights before, and it sounds like it was truly spectacular – so that’s what I’ll be going there for next.

old town ibizaI also had heard that we should really go outside the club zone to see some of the real beauty of Ibiza. I found it right in Old Town. It was one of the most picturesque Spanish villages I’ve ever seen! (And I’ve seen a lot of them). So I’m now inspired to visit and see more of the island. I’ve decided that Ibiza is some sort of sacred ground, and sacred grounds are often trampled by those who have no respect, and Ibiza is no different. But it’s beauty is real, and there is real, wonderful music there as well. Count me in on the next trip.

To Ibiza for Music On with Marco Carola and Space with Carl Cox

Sun and fun and techno – what could be better?

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We’re off tomorrow, my almost 20-year veteran party buddy Kerri and I, back to Ibiza with our new friend Michelle to experience the best the island has to offer in techno. First up will be a visit to Space for Carl Cox’s final season there. Am not too thrilled with the rest of the lineup on that night, am hoping Eats Everything or Hot Since 82 will surprise me. Have any of you had good or bad experiences with them?

I’ve pretty much given up on Nina Kraviz, although I used to enjoy her so maybe I’ll be wrong!

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And then on Friday, Music On with Marco Carola, supposedly “the most transcendent night of techno on the island.” The toughest part for me will be the late hours of the parties, which start at midnight. I’ve gotten so spoiled with all the daytime party opportunities I have around the Netherlands! But I am determined, just this once, to soldier through and experience what everyone’s always talking about.

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In between the parties, we have nothing on the docket but beach time, which is my kind of vacation. I’ll report back on my return!

 

Figure and Allihoopa: Free Music Making Software

What a fun toy Figure is for making little songs and loops! Even someone who can’t play an instrument can make something that sounds good in Figure. (If I can do it, anyone can). Check it out (it’s free) by clicking the image on the left below.

On the right is my Allihoopa page with the pieces I’ve made so far.

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My Allihoopa page
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Click to get Figure

Solomun!

My goodness. Every time I go on FB these days I’m presented with clips from a DJ I already love or someone new I feel I must discover in person.

I have just discovered Solomun! How gorgeous is this set?! Deep and melodic – so melodic, but yet not weak. Tugs at the soul strings.

A friend of mine saw Solomun at Loveland and I missed him, and watching this, I’m sorry I did. But I will find him. For now, let’s enjoy this magical set from Barcelona!