Amsterdam is a beautiful and magical city where their annual dance music festival, ADE, is taken as seriously as the BBC Proms. We thought that the festival, featuring 450 events over 5 days, was the perfect opportunity to experience some decent nightlife on our little adventure (there was sure to be a great deal of choice). We chose Defected’s 500th release celebration at AIR, which featured the finest DJs in disco and house, among which were Studio 54 veteran John Morales and Defected’s own MD, Simon Dunmore.
After an enjoyable but long pre-rave stroll through the winding canal-side streets, we arrived at the club around 2am, so if we’re honest we were pretty squiffy before we’d even got there. If you haven’t been to a festival or sizeable nightclub in Europe then you may not be familiar with the token or card systems that they often have as they don’t take cash on the bars. We went ahead and got an AIR card, stuck 20€ on and hoped for the best. It turns out this was also the only way of paying to put your coat away in the electronic lockers, which were in a section that looked like a futuristic swimming pool changing room. We went on to blunder our way through this process: two sozzled English morons trying to read Dutch...this took too many embarrassing attempts to mention.
Eventually we managed to join the rest of the crowd inside and immediately knew that it was going to be a fab night. AIR is a large club with two rooms, powerful sound systems and impressive decor (lighting AND plants! So sophisticated). The main room featured Defected in the House with the likes of Shadow Child and Crookers, while the second room was specifically for Glitterbox, whose origins lie in Ibiza as a house and disco event under the Defected label. In the Glitterbox section, the gents bossing it on the decks were John Morales, Simon Dunmore, DJ Spen and Todd Terry, all of whom were blasting some classic bangers and surprising mixes. Prince’s ‘I Wanna Be Your Lover’ was a particular highlight, for which we got excited and Ryan flounced around like an un-majestic John Travolta. Despite some of our unique dance moves, people were really nice and friendly and everyone was clearly there to have a serious boogie and appreciate the fantastic tunes on offer.
We were pretty indulgent booze-wise which of course meant that the night became gradually fuzzier. Thanks to Snapchat and Shazam, we had a small collection of entertaining videos and a list of some ace rare disco and house tracks, a particularly memorable tune was the Joey Negro club mix of Masters At Work’s ‘Backfired’. The DJs here were obviously all experts in the field of disco and house, combining the two in a fluid and informed way. These guys all showed so much enthusiasm for their chosen tracks, which encouraged a communal attitude of mutual appreciation and spurred people to collectively get their groove on; no one could resist the timeless masterpieces from the likes of Stevie Wonder and rarer grooves by people such as Inner Life. We also realised later on (earlier in the morning) that the security were present, but never overbearing - this undoubtedly had a positive effect on the atmosphere where no one felt provoked and everyone felt safe - maybe B night clubs could take a leaf out of this book?. Regardless of how patchy our memory of the night may be, everything from the DJs to the venue and crowd were on top-form and we would happily do it all over again.