First Time Festival: Nassau Festival, KingsDay 2016, Amsterdam

So I went to this new festival in Amsterdam on Kingsday on my own, because I wasn’t sure about it, as it was a first time promoter of a new electronic dance music event. I was also quite reluctant to go to an event at the Olympic stadium (sounds too big and impersonal), but in fact it was not in the stadium but was set up as a bunch of different stages *around* the stadium. It was pretty good, nothing earth shattering musically despite an excellent lineup. However, Carl Craig was awesome, as usual. What was really weird was that NO ONE was there for him. All the other stages were on the other side of the circle, and no one seemed to want to venture back to the first stage to see the Detroit Legend. So even though the event was packed, something like 20 or 30 of us were treated to a private show, which was cool but odd. And it was really, really cold. It might have been warmer at the other stages, which were packed with people. It was in fact sold out. So, interesting but different…we’ll see what they come up with next year.

Nassau festival

Dockyard Festival – Rougher but Better?

Well that was unexpected. Hmmm, now I don’t know what to recommend to potential visiting folks (like you?!). I guess it depends on what kind of electronic dance music festival you are in the mood for….

I bought my tickets for the DGTL festival I told you about two weeks ago with reservations, because I knew that this weekend I’d be heading to the same space for a different party, Dockyard Festival. Would that be boring, too much the same?

They turned out to be night and day.

So forget all that fancy sustainable pristine-clean-organic-greenhouses-vegetarian-digital bracelets-turn in your cups for credits niceness. Regular cups here, regular drink coins, regular festival food. Or was it? I had an *outstanding* burger before starting to dance; it was so good I had to give them high American praise, which they gratefully received. Then I people watched for a while. This crowd was older, rougher, grayer, and the young ones were hoodier. Had kind of a biker look to the grownups, or perhaps….people who worked on the docks, coming to Dockyard? I dunno, but it was sure different.

dockyard outside

My first thought was that this crowd could be potentially much harder to manage than all those highfalutin folks at DGTL, and that was the other main difference I noticed all day. Instead of paying for all those sustainable services, for the same ticket price, we got a pair of security guys walking past us every 10 minutes, day or night. Unlike in the US, they weren’t going around with flashlights trying to catch people doing bad things; they were very unobtrusive and I think they were just looking out for anyone who needed help. We saw no incidents at all day or night, and in fact the crowd was super well behaved and dare I say, they danced more enthusiastically, had fewer cameras out in front of themselves (age thing I think), and expressed more joy and authenticity while partying??

Meetup group dockyardAnd my Meetup group was soooo nice. It was composed of the lovely people you see in the photo below and a couple more who arrived later. However it was almost the shortest Meetup in world history, because my co-organizer Alex and I met everyone there at the lockers as planned, and then we all trooped off to Terminal 1 where we planned to spend the next several hours. But by the time we arrived there, we had lost all but one of the group! We sent messages about where we were but it was crowded and hard to navigate. It took a long time to get reunited, but we did, with most of them, and a small group of 5 or 6 of us spent most of the night together. It was so wonderful; not just herding cats like it might have been, but getting to know really cool people who share our passion for techno and dancing with them for hours on end. Niiiiice.

The lineup was terrific and the DJs were mostly on their game; Harvey McKay, Sam Paganini, Secret Cinema, Monika Kruse and Dubfire all delighted. My musical star for the day though? ART DEPARTMENT. Man, the only thing I can think of to call what he was playing is “Party Techno”. He had us whooping and jamming in a way techno rarely does.

Anyway, I get it. Just as major DJs these days have to have a unique musical message, in order to play in the big leagues of party promoters you have to create a unique, interesting and safe environment, no matter what venue you are in. Dockyard and DGTL for the win. You, dear visitors, just have to decide what you’re in the mood for.