The Rise of Dutch House Music
One look at the list of the best DJs in the world in recent decades, is enough to know that the Netherlands has contributed greatly to the popularity of house music. But when and where did it all start? What exactly happened in the Netherlands in the fifteen years before 2002, when the first Dutch DJ, Tiësto, was voted best DJ in the world? In this article, we give you a short overview of the main events concerning the rise of house music in the Netherlands, including the legendary rise of Dance Valley.
1987 – The RoXY
For those who talk about the history of Dutch house music, there is only one starting point: the Roxy. The first years of the eighties in the Netherlands were not exactly a musical highlight. While in the USA house was on the rise since the late seventies, most Dutch never even heard of this new American genre. When the RoXY was founded in 1987 that quickly changed. The Amsterdam club, led by musical director Eddy de Clercq, made house music accessible for the greater public. Many great DJs, including Joost van Bellen, started their career in the Roxy. The club is seen as the absolute origin, or at least the most important early promotor, of house music in the Netherlands.
1991 – No Limits!
In 1991, 2 Unlimited put the Dutch house music on the map with their first album ‘Get Ready’. Worldwide, they sold 2.6 million copies. In 1993 they released their biggest hit “No limit”. The single debuted at number one in Britain, something no Dutch band since the seventies had managed. However, from the house scene, there was criticism of the commercial character of the easygoing Eurodance genre. On the other hand, 2 Unlimited’s success inspired other famous names from the nineties as the Vengaboys, T-Spoon and Charly Lownoise and Mental Theo.
1995 – Birth of Dance Valley
During the mid-nineties, the first Dutch house festivals were founded. While the first editions of Thunderdome (1992) and Mysteryland (1993) were mainly focussing on the evening program, Dance Valley saw the potential of partying in the sunlight. A concept that is nowadays very common for festivals. The founders of Dance Valley were originally planning to start a club, but they first wanted to organize a house festival. Just for fun. However, the first edition of Dance Valley in 1995 was such a success that it was decided to continue with Dance Valley and drop the idea of a club. Since then, all the big house artists have visited “the valley” and even international editions were organized, including locations like Ibiza and Miami. To this day Dance Valley is a big player in both the house scene and the festival world.
1995 – Hardcore Never Dies
The biggest (and only) youth subculture the Netherlands has ever transported internationally, is the “gabber” culture. Made big by the great success of the Thunderdome hardcore parties the hardcore scene culminates in 1995. Only a real gabber knows the gabber-feeling. With bald head and dressed in tracksuit the gabber dances (hakken) the night away on fast, hard beats. Although Thunderdome no longer exists, hardcore parties and festivals are still very popular. The yearly recurrence of The Hardcore Stage at Dance Valley is a good example of this. It proves the truth of the well-known gabber phrase that is often tattooed on their bodies: hardcore never dies.
1999 – On Fire
In 1999 the RoXY went up in flames. During the funeral party of a founder of the club, Peter Giele, the RoXY burned down because of the dangerous combination of fireworks and an air conditioning system that was not turned off. The end of an era, but certainly not the end of the Dutch house music. On the contrary. The house music turned out to be a genre that would not just blow over. The best example of this is the story of Spinnin’ Records, which was founded in 1999. Within five years The Dutch record label was worldwide leader in music publishing. Nowadays Spinnin ‘Records is the most influential record label in the bizz with names like Afrojack, Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano, Nicky Romero and Dyro.
From being a musical third world country in the beginning of the eighties, the Netherlands has since then grown out to be a nation of top DJs and leading festivals like Dance Valley. Dutch house music has literally set the tone in the international house scene. From this perspective, it is a mystery why the Dutch national anthem, the Wilhelmus, is not yet replaced by a more appropriate song like ‘No limit’ or ‘Traffic’.