“That makes the cultural climate here so enterprising. The Netherlands is a kind of music lab. Whatever gets started here succeeds in other places.” Promoter Roy Avni is the founder and director of Electronation, a network organisation that hosts parties in cities such as Barcelona and London every week, and consults on concepts for other events. “Actually, it's remarkable that we even got a foot in the door in London,” says Avni. “It’s still considered as the epicentre of the international youth culture. But our clients think that Amsterdam DJs and organisers have an extra something. Just the fact that our office is in Amsterdam gives us a head start in terms of reputation.”
After gaming, the dance phenomenon is the fastest growing sector in today’s experience economy. The Amsterdam Metropolitan Area has played a significant role in the commercialisation of what was once an underground subculture. For instance, the region's annual Dance Valley was the first large dance event in Europe to be held with the permission of the local authorities. Now it’s attended by 40,000 visitors every year and is a showcase for top DJs like the Netherlands’ own Tiësto (the world's most popular DJ in 2008) to present their latest offerings to the international music world.
Another success story is ID&T, set up by Duncan Stutterheim and his partners, which has become one of the biggest dance event organisers in the world. One of their early products was the first stadium concept, Sensation, a dance extravaganza attracting tens of thousands of fans. It has now been exported all over the world. Industry observers estimate this single contract to be worth €40-€50 million.
For Israeli-born Avni, who set up Electronation less than four years ago, and others like him, the presence of players like these was important in their choice of location. The Amsterdam Metropolitan Area has several hundred organisers and promoters, and the competition between them ensures they all stay sharp. Avni adds that the Netherlands is a country of early-adopters when it comes to music.
Though he grew up in a small country, he's still astonished at the convenient scale of the city where all this takes place. “Literally everything is within reach here,” he says. "Within a kilometre’s radius, you can rent the best installations in the world, there are clubs really pushing the borders of contemporary music, and even the financiers seem to be more creative than anywhere else.”
There’s also the fact that Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, on the city’s doorstep, has one of the world's busiest timetables. No wonder that Avni is convinced that Amsterdam will keep the world dancing for a long time to come. “This is the place to be,” he says.
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