Since 2014 Elementenstraat has been home to a diverse range of regular events. It’s hosted four day blowouts during Amsterdam Dance Event, steamy sunrise sessions from Breakfast Club and Is Burning, as well as infamous sold edition editions of Katharsis and Unpolished––two uncompromising techno weekends from the Reaktor crew. It’s a place to encounter big name DJs on the same bill as rising underground talents, and forge longlasting friendships in the dark. At Elementenstraat the value of community is as strong as it’s always been, a sentiment carried over from the venue’s historic days as the crucible for gabber culture in Amsterdam.
For a year in the early ‘90s, Elementenstraat was the place to be every weekend, thanks to the gumption of Ilja Reiman and the Multigroove crew. Between April 1992 and May 1993, Multigroove threw a total of 61 illegal parties at Elementenstraat over consecutive weekends––parties where the incomparable Dutch gabber sound was forged. Legends like The Dreamteam’s The Prophet, Buzz Fuzz, Gizmo, and Dano, as well as Flamman & Abraxas from pioneering house troupe Fierce Ruling Diva, all carved their names into hardcore history, right here, from the DJ booth at Multigroove.
Multigroove’s reign at Elementenstraat came to an abrupt end on Saturday May 15, 1993, when the police raided the venue as part of an undercover operation, codenamed ‘Operation Ponytail’. All Multigroove founders and DJs performing that night were arrested. It was the first instance of violence on site. Ilja Reiman was imprisoned for four weeks and fined 1.5 million guilders. Elementenstraat was forced to close for good. Vigil-raves were held outside the venue for two weeks afterwards by Multigroove’s devoted community, which had blossomed over its year-long weekend residency at Elementenstraat. The venue remained closed for two decades, until it was bought and reopened by Duncan Stutterheim––whose first rave experience was on the dancefloor at Elementenstraat.
When Multigroove first moved into Elementenstraat the place looked like a slaughterhouse, with white tiles on the walls and terrible acoustics. There was just a single main hall, divided into two with speakers. Today, Elementenstraat is a warren of concrete, featuring many rooms to explore and get lost in. The venue has since doubled in size, now boasting a total capacity of 3000. It has been fully refurbished and fitted with state of the art sound. But its heart still beats to the same kickdrum –– never more so than on Saturday 26 November, 2016, when Multigroove returned to Elementenstraat for the first time since the raid for a 25 anniversary mega rave.
As the fight for club culture gets ever more urgent, adaptable social spaces with strong ties to its local community are needed like never before. Since reopening, Elementenstraat has worked closely with Amsterdam promoters, ranging from established brands like Multigroove and Awakenings, to younger, more underground organisations like Vault Sessions. Over the years the venue has evolved into an incubator for Amsterdam nightlife, in all its forms. Here’s to the next chapter of Elementenstraat.