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Amsterdam’s Awakenings; 15 Years of Total Techno (interview)

Reported by Joshua [Trackitdown] on November 18, 2011

“We've been around for so long that people know that they get value for their money with us. For our latest outdoor festival this year we sold out four months in advance. That was a new record for us and it for this summer it was the fastest selling out dance festival in Holland.”

Almost 15 years after throwing their first party at Amsterdam’s Gasworks, Awakenings has become one of the world’s most popular techno festivals, most recently attracting 35,000 to their latest outdoor bash, one of numerous events they present throughout Holland each year. 

Tickets (including for 2 day events and their upcoming New Year’s Eve party) cost less than 50EUR, and as a cursory glance at any of the last 9 years of line-ups listed on their website shows, commercial compromise has never been on the agenda.

“How much of a temptation is it for us to book a David Guetta or Afrojack? No temptation at all,” event founder and Awakenings figurehead Rocco chuckles, “Awakenings is strictly techno!”

While the likes of veterans such as Jeff Mills and Joey Beltram are represented at every party, next generation tech stars such as Luciano, Egbert, and Joseph Capriati also feature prominently, fitting into a formula that’s simple but highly effective.

“The most important aspect still are our killer line-ups,” says Rocco, “Plus our state of the art visual show which includes the best LED, video, lasers, lights and indoor fireworks.”

Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff); What's your assessment of the state of techno in 2011: how has it been affected by the worldwide recession?

Awakenings (Rocco): “Speaking for the Netherlands and particularly for Amsterdam, the state of techno is really healthy. There is a lot of local talent here but we can also listen to international techno DJs every weekend in the variety of clubs we have and then a few times a year Awakenings puts on the greatest of raves. You can see the economic crisis is having some effect and for the clubs it’s not always easy but we still sell out every single edition of Awakenings.”

Skrufff: What's been the toughest experience you've had?

Awakenings (Rocco): “I've had a New Year’s event cancelled a couple of years ago because the owner of the warehouse made a mistake and didn't apply for the license in time. That will never happen again.”

Skrufff: House and techno have dominated European club culture for well over 20 years now: how likely is it that dubstep, or some other new genre, could come along and sweep most of the old guard away?

Awakenings (Rocco): “We have dubstep parties and also most other genres you can find around here. It's nice that the people can choose where they want to go.  Competition is positive and healthy for the club scene. We like to think that the techno scene will keep on being creative and putting out great music because that’s what it’s all about.” (Jeff Mills, Marcel Fengler, Matthew Jonson and Sandwell District headine the next Awakenings, on Friday November 25, in Amsterdam) (Awakenings on Youtube 2010 trailer)

Jonty Skrufff: