Dancing again for the first time in a year, legally and without distance or mouth mask. Saturday it became reality for 1300 chosen people in the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam, during the Back To Live Dance Event. TIOH’s Daan Coerver was one of the lucky ones and kept his eyes and ears alive.
Cover photo: Bart Heemskerk
Translation: Mandy van der Donk
When Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano start the last set of Back To Live at 6 PM, I cannot hold my enthusiasm back anymore. I take off my press sticker and walk into one of the party bubbles. I resolutely choose the one in front of the podium.
When I enter the bubble, I slowly feel a shiver run down my spine. For the first time since – instinctively – an eternity that I felt the sub-bass of a large installation in my ears and stomach. The heat of the stage flames radiating at you.
The further I walk into the audience, the thicker the sea of people around me is getting, and the more goosebumps I experience. Beer is coming all over me, misty people do not let me pass through the crowd easily, and a back full of sweat is pushed right in my face. But this time it does not even bother me.
I started this ‘job’ somewhat tense a few hours earlier. To imagine that this would grow into the best thing I have experienced in the past year.
I saw the visitors of Back To Live in the Ziggo Dome being divided into 6 bubbles; each with different rules. For each bubble, there was a separate row in which the people were escorted inside. In these rows, people had to keep their distance. Besides that, not everyone was allowed to enter at the same time.
At 1:10 PM, about 2 hours before the start, the first visitors were already at the front of the queue. Among them Richelle (28) and Ronny (31). Part of one of the two bubbles in which people did not have to keep their distance, but were asked to put on a face mask. “Everyone has tested negative so I am planning to enjoy myself dancing and touching everyone,” said Richelle.
The time has finally come. For the first time in a year, everyone walks back into a party room with a large sound system that pumps a vibey house beat past your eardrums. The bright lights of the Ziggo dance in all directions. There is an atmosphere of withdrawal and release at the same time.
The bubbles are divided into four different settings. Nobody has to keep their distance in the front two bubbles. Behind this is the largest bubble of all, in which people have to keep a mouth mask on as well as keeping their distance. Everyone was assigned a dot in this bubble. All dots are one-and-a-half meters apart from each other. There are also two bubbles for the seated audience in the stands.
Every bubble is filled at 3:00 PM. Lady Bee opens with a nice funky set. She mainly plays a combination of deep / summer house and some slab house here and there. The perfect atmosphere to get everyone a bit loose.
In the beginning, you notice that people wear their mouth caps neatly and keep their distance where they were asked to do so. But when the volume goes up and the first beers have been poured, people start to loosen up a bit. The first mouth caps are tucked away in the front two bubbles after fifteen minutes. Less than 10 minutes later, the people in the middle bubble are also starting to dance further and further from their assigned dot. And not even halfway through the set, the old familiar festival atmosphere is completely back again. People hug each other and dance exuberantly.
Shortly after her set, I ask Lady Bee how her first performance in 13 months felt: “It went crazy!”, she says. “I’m still completely hyped, the adrenaline is running through my blood.”
Lucas & Steve
Lucas & Steve start their set at 4 PM. With a homemade edit of one of the Dutch Prime Minister’s press conferences. “Expansion for all of us on Saturday”, his sample booms through the Ziggo. The Limburg duo switches up the tempo.
I decide to talk to some more visitors and ask them how it feels to experience this again after such a long time. “In the beginning it still takes some getting used to”, I often hear. Outside in the queue, it does not seem all that real and you cannot imagine it. “But once inside it quickly feels as familiar as before.”
I also ask what they think of Fieldlab’s research and whether they will actually have themselves tested in a few days (in contrast to various visitors at previous test events). The answers show a lot of enthusiasm: “I am very much in favor of the Fieldlab research”, someone says. “We all want to have the Netherlands open again as soon as possible, in a safe way.” About the tests: “Everyone was already in for a penny with the first test and coming here. Now it is time to also be in it for a pound.”
In the audience, you can already taste the real party atmosphere. The necessary resources are also used. “But to be honest, you already get the same euphoric feeling when you enter a party hall for the first time,” says a boy. “I also think that people here use a little more cautiously in connection with all the media attention.”
While Sam Feldt is shaking things up after Lucas & Steve, I get a brief chance to speak to the closing of the evening: Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano. “Our biggest performance last year? That was at home, in the basement for our family”, they say with a laugh. “It was also a tough audience right away.” That is why ‘DJ beasts’ like them are very excited to be able to play here again, especially because they are armed with many fresh tracks.
The drinks taste good when I let go of the reins after all those conversations and rounds along the bubbles. The last hour I enjoy the party to the fullest. That feeling, to be at an event again after a year of drought. It is like falling in love for the first time again.