After one year of radio silence, the people behind Amsterdam's legendary club 11 have set up shop in what used to be the printing room of a Dutch newspaper. Word has it that Trouw carries all the ingredients to become one of Europe's most prominent venues: great soundsystem, industrial ambience, amazing line-ups and a prize-winning smoker's area to boot. The 360 night, where residents Patrice Bäumel and Nuno dos Santos invited minimal house legend Isolée for a live set, proved the perfect occasion for a nocturnal investigation.
Trouw (Dutch for "true") has quite a standard to live up to. Its predecessor, built on the eleventh floor of Amsterdam's old postal office, was internationally rated as one of Holland's best venues for quality electronic music. Its closing was regarded as a great loss to the city. So expectations were high when we took the subway to the new location at the south end of town. Queuing outside the old newspaper building, we couldn't help but wonder if any part of this architectural mishap could work as the proper surrounding for a club. But once inside, we marveled at the club's rugged yet classy interior.
Photo credit: Nik Torrens
Like any decent nightclub (Panoramabar, Fabric, Cielo, etc.) Trouw has invested a large amount of its time, money and effort into the soundsystem. It simply sounds amazing. Decoration-wise, Trouw has minimal content written all over it. Little has been done to cover up the concrete walls confining the venue from its residential surroundings. An austere DJ booth is set in front of the stage, placing the DJ at eye-level with his crowd. The elongated space is split by a broad stairway, fencing off the restaurant from a rectangular dancefloor. Only a handful of moving heads are hanging from the ceiling and some white light projections are beamed at the walls. This back-to-basics approach has created the ideal setting for a post-credit crunch night crawl.
This evening we were visiting one of Trouw's most succesful nights, run by two Dutch artists who have recently broke through internationally. Patrice "Roar" Bäumel is Get Physical's hottest new star. And Nuno dos Santos is one of the main artists on Munich's Compost Black imprint. The two of them started 360 nights in 2006 to express a shared love for emotionally charged electronic music in its broadest form. Booking groundbreaking acts like Modeselektor, Nathan Fake and Apparat to town for over three years now—always accompanied by one of their own distinctive DJ sets—360 has attracted a faithful following of open-minded music lovers.
Photo credit: Nik Torrens
We were surrounded mostly by serious clubbers in their late twenties, many of them gorgeous girls—a scene quite familiar from the old 360 nights at 11. All seemed to know their Bäumels from their Beau Mot Plages. After a superb warm-up slot, Isolée's stage appearance immediately spawned a wave of dance floor excitement. Never the crowdpleaser, mister minimal house teased us with unusual dynamics. The crowd was stirred up with a steady and danceable live set, full of creative sparks and little surprises. The icing on the cake was Isolée's most recent hit, "October" and an edit of his all-time classic "Beau Mot Plage." A decade after its initial release, this mind-boggling track still remains one of dance music's finest and most melancholic moments.
After a pit stop at the restaurant (serving delicious snacks till two AM; we strongly recommend the Trouwburger!) and a quick peek at the smoking area—rightful winner of Holland's first Golden Cigarette Butt trophy for best smoking area—we moved back to the dance floor, where 360 Soundsystem were closing the night with a driving DJ set. Tracks like Guy J's "Lamur" and Adam Marshall's "Vespers" were answered with nothing but cheers. Everyone seemed to have the time of their lives; except for Isolée, who was found sleeping in the fetal position under the DJ booth when the lights came on. Was it the magic of Trouw, the power of 360 Soundsystem or just the vodka-Fritzes that got to him? Unfortunately, the RA-investigation squad wasn't there to ask. We were already in a cab on the way home, thinking about what turned out to be an amazing night.