To dance is to be free

Amsterdam Club Culture from 1980 to today

To dance is to be free – Amsterdam club culture from 1980 to today explores the Amsterdam club culture through various archived material from clubs, photos, videos, objects and visual art. The exhibition highlights memories and tells the background stories of experimentation, acceptance and emancipation, both of iconic as well as contemporary clubs: RoXY, Club11 and Trouw to Paradiso and Garage Noord.

The exhibition is not in chronological order. Just like in the club, the visitor moves around from place to place and finds themselves in the DIY world of clubs. Decor and archived items alternate with sensory results of the conceptual ideas and craftsmanship. The background stories are revealed in free-standing spaces, where we meet key figures from the Amsterdam club scene. The visitor eventually goes down to the basement, where the party is in full swing.


Amsterdam City Archives

Term: 14 october 2023 – 18 february 2024
Year: 2023
Location: Amsterdam City Archives

Fotography: Mike Bink, Amsterdam City Archives
Awards: Bronze European Design Award (2024)

A sensory club experience

The public meanders through the space, from a museum-like to an increasingly sensory experience, and ends up in the DIY world of clubs.

Glimpse behind the scenes

Archived material such as sketches, recorded minutes of meetings and brainstorms are exhibited alongside photographs and party items in a club-style setting: sometimes open, sometimes more closed.

Told by those who were there

The story is told by various key figures from the Amsterdam club scene. They share their personal memories in a series of short interviews and you are told the theme, without these themes actually being mentioned.

Visual stories

Behind the interviews, archived images are shown using prints and projection, so that the story and the collection come together.

VJs and film makers

Artists from the club scene have been commissioned by the City Archive to create new work to be included in the exhibition. Work shown is from artists such as Juha van ’t Zelfde, Bogomir Doringer and Heleen Blanken.

Boiler room

Once the visitor has seen the backstage activities, he/she/they descend(s) the stairs. The party can already be heard on approach, and the closer you are, the louder it gets. The visitor can dance freely once inside the former boiler room.