Guía de Ámsterdam, vida nocturna

Vice City

Words: Andreas Rottenschlager 
Photography: Dennis Branko

Club-hopping by bike, ritzy strip shows, live music in former churches, and a mayor determined to keep the party going: Clubland photographer Dennis Branko gives us his 10 tips for the perfect night out in the Dutch capital. 

1. NIGHTLIFE LIKE NOWHERE ELSE

“Welcome to the city where you can be whoever you want to be. Amsterdam likes to celebrate its tolerance—that much I can tell you after 11 years as a nightlife photographer. It doesn’t matter if you’re a hip-hop kid, a punk or a tourist, whether you’re gay, straight or dressed ludicrously, you’re going to have fun in the 1,500-or-so clubs and bars that the city has to offer. Dress code is a foreign concept.

The crowd comes from all over the world. And quite aside from the liberal drug policy and the world-famous Red Light District, you can also rely on help from our night-time mayor, Mirik Milan. Yes, you read that right: In Amsterdam, there’s a night- time mayor to represent the interests of club owners. One of the things Milan fights for is your right to party longer into the night. So you want to stay out till 7 a.m.? No problem.”  

amsterdam.info 

2. PARADISO: A MUST-SEE WHEN YOU’RE IN THE DUTCH CAPITAL

“If you haven’t been to Paradiso, you don’t know Amsterdam. The club is near Leidseplein, a square in the city center. It was a church until 1968 and then became a bastion of counterculture. The Sex Pistols and the Rolling Stones have played there. Hippies have smoked pot there. Now you can discover two scenes jostling for space on a single night at Paradiso: From 9 p.m., there are live acts, then at midnight the first DJs get going. I recommend any set by Yellow Claw, whose dubstep tracks have had a huge impact on the sound of the city.”

paradiso.nl

La fiesta en Ámsterdam

Dancing in Amsterdam: “Women here hate show-offs.”

3. WIN OVER AMSTERDAM’S WOMEN ON YOUR BIKE

Amsterdam hate show-offs. You’ll get further if you’ve got an exciting story to tell than if you try to be flash with your fast car. And as the bouncers usually let more women than men into the clubs, you’ll have several chances to try your luck. My tip is to make the most of your exoticism as a tourist and tell them something about your hometown. You should also rent a bike—it’s the classic way to get around Amsterdam at night. That way, you can chauffeur your lady to the next club at 3 a.m. The police will only stop you if your light’s broken, so check your bike before you get going.” 

rentabike.nl 

Vida nocturna en Ámsterdam

Clubgoers at Jimmy Woo: “There’s no such thing as a dress code. Just be whoever you want to be.”

 4. A L’ELEPHANT: GO FOR AN EARLY DRINK

“I’m a regular at A L’Elephant du Congo, a newly done-up dance venue at Reguliersdwarsstraat 37, which used to be home to April, one of the city’s best-known gay bars. This is where Amsterdam’s hip kids hang out. They’re a mid-20s crowd who love the club atmosphere of the huge dance temples. And with its wood-paneled walls, A L’Elephant is as cozy as your living room. The music it plays is stylish pop, anything from Pharrell Williams to Lykke Li. And this is the place to come if you want your first drink early—it opens at 4 p.m.” 

elephantducongo.com 

5. EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX AND SMOKING JOINTS 

“Sooner or later you’ll end up in the Red Light District, which has a surprisingly relaxed atmosphere, more like being in an open-air museum than in a dodgy area—the oldest church in Amsterdam is here, too. The female sex workers have trade unions, and the city battles against illegal prostitution. You can see the infamous live sex and striptease shows at Casa Rosso. And yes, you can smoke joints in Amsterdam. You can do it at coffee shops, on the street or in parks, but not in public places, regular cafés or on the dance floor in clubs—they have special smoking areas. Stick to these rules and you’ll be fine.” 

casarosso.nl 

“RENT YOURSELF A BIKE AND CHAUFFEUR YOUR LADY TO THE NEXT CLUB AT 3 A.M. THIS IS AMSTERDAM, AFTER ALL.” 
Ámsterdam

On the dance floor at Jimmy Woo: The clubs are jam-packed beginning at midnight. 

6. BITTERZOET, THE CLUB THAT SHOWCASES THE LATEST MUSIC TRENDS 

“Amsterdam’s music scene is divided into two large camps: house and hip-hop. For fans of rap, the Bassline party at Paradiso has been a must for more than 25 years. But I recommend Bitterzoet. Since 2007, the club has been playing the latest tracks from every subgenre at its BBQ night, every first Saturday of the month. Often, when I go there, I have to switch on the Shazam app on my phone to identify the tracks. Whether it’s West Coast rap or the latest tracks from Amsterdam, there are always songs I haven’t heard before.” 

bitterzoet.com 

Vida nocturna en Ámsterdam

A hip-hop fan at Paradiso, Amsterdam’s nightlife temple. 

7. GREAT LATE-NIGHT EATING 

“The bad news is, the only thing available to eat in Amsterdam after midnight is bad fast food. So I recommend you have a late dinner at Cannibale Royale in Handboogstraat. You can’t beat the 21-oz. L’Exceptionnel steak. And it’s right next to Disco Dolly, an address you’ll be needing later in the night.” 

cannibaleroyale.nl

8. FIND OUT ABOUT THE LOCAL TALENT

“Joost van Bellen is an icon of Amsterdam nightlife. The mustachioed veteran DJ made house music popular in the city with his sets at the RoXY in the late ’80s. Sadly, the RoXY burned down in 1999. Joost now curates the Valtifest music festival, which is one of the highlights of the year.” 

joostvanbellen.nl 

Selfie nocturno

Nights at A L’Elephant du Congo: “Where the in-crowd goes out.” 

9. AFTER-HOURS: WHERE YOU CAN DANCE AFTER 5 A.M. 

“Most clubs in Amsterdam close at 5 a.m. If you want to carry on after that, you’ll have to go to Disco Dolly or Club NYX. These venues have special licenses that allow them to stay open till 7 a.m. NYX is a multilevel club that mainly plays electronic music. At Disco Dolly, the DJs will play whatever keeps the party going. If you still haven’t had your fill by 7 a.m, make friends with the people on the dance floor—the after- hours parties are usually in people’s homes.” 

clubnyx.nl

 

Vida nocturna en Ámsterdam

“The Red Light District feels like being in a museum. The city’s oldest church is here, too.” 

 10. LET THE NIGHT CHANGE YOU

“My career as a chronicler of Amsterdam’s nightlife began 11 years ago when a friend gave me his Sony DSC-F717 camera because I’d been using a cheap one up till then. I like the way people’s characters change when they’re out at night; quiet people let their hair down and show their emotions. I want to record those moments. Amsterdam’s nightlife will open you up if you let it. A few years back, a DJ dared me to jump off the stage at Paradiso and into the crowd. I used to panic at the thought of crowd-surfing. But I did it— and the people carried me.” 

dennisbranko.com 

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02 2016 The Red Bulletin

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