This post is also available in: Nederlands (Dutch)
Has Mark van Bergen's quest for the history of Dutch Dance paid off? The answer is a resounding yes! Dutch Dance reads like an exciting book.
During the press presentation of Dutch Dance it soon became clear that author Mark van Bergen has been working on this book for years. In the meantime, he had a wife, a busy job as a journalist at the Eindhovens Dagblad and he also raised three children. Today he successfully runs the online dance platform This Is Our House. In his obviously sparse free hours, he visited parties and festivals, interviewed icons Joost van Bellen, Sander van Doorn, Ferry Corsten and other DJs who stood at the cradle of the worldwide musical revolution called house. He immersed himself in the emerging labels, the record stores, the bookers, and the journalists who talked about the music and not about the fear of the unknown.
Respect for all genres
This total enthusiasm evokes an expectation. Has Van Bergen’s passion paid off? The answer is a resounding yes! Van Bergen’s personal sacrifices have resulted in this beautifully designed, lively story that reads like an exciting book, packed with interviews with and quotes from the pioneers of house, whose birthplace is the Netherlands. With respect for all the genres that have formed since the birth of hypnotic dance, acid, techno, mellow, gabber and all other variants are generously covered.
“Feast of recognition for people over 35”
Also attention for pioneers Dimitri, Erick E, Fierce Ruling Diva, 100% Isis, of course Joost van Bellen and Eddy De Clercq, who experienced the laborious introduction of the pounding beats in the post-crisis 80s up close. In that period the gray gave way to colour, pessimism to hope and confidence in the future. The role of ecstasy in house is not shunned, but factually described, free from any penchant for sensation, actually as the organic whole that the drug formed with the trance-like music.
And while many Dutch authors limit themselves to the Randstad when describing trends, in this case a musical revolution, for the sake of completeness Van Bergen also mentions developments in the province. The clubs that emerged or switched to dance in whatever form imaginable. The DJs who still lived with their parents in Veenendaal or a village in North Brabant where they contemplated about new music. Technology progressed; the possibilities became endless.
However, the more popular house became, the more fast scorers came to the front. ‘House is hip, so interesting for the cut’, says Van Bergen. The eurohouse presented itself. 2 Brothers on the 4th Floor, Twenty4Seven and of course 2 Unlimited, which to date are the record holder for the number of records sold by a Dutch music product ever. Of course, Van Bergen ends with contemporary successful artists: Tiësto, Armin van Buuren, Ferry Corsten, Afrojack & Nicky Romero.
Dutch Dance is written in a way that anyone who is interested in dance culture gets an accessible glimpse into the kitchen of the driving forces behind this phenomenon, which we Dutch are great at. The anecdotes are entertaining, the historical interpretation is visual, and the atmosphere from yesteryear to now is aptly portrayed.
And so, we arrive at the not so far-fetched idea that Dutch Dance should perhaps become compulsory for students at the Rock Academy or a comparable musical college. Nor would it look out of place on a sociology or anthropology student’s bookshelf. Van Bergen provides a nice glimpse into social relationships in the late eighties and early nineties.
Trip down memory lane
However, those who will have the most fun with this inspired pen fruit are the over-35s. The classic dance lovers who experienced the birth of house in the Netherlands. The ‘hippies of the nineties’, now settled with work, partner and kids and the occasional long planned dance evening to go wild. For them, the book is a great trip down memory lane.
Dutch Dance is therefore interesting for many and for some a true feast of recognition. It is complete but certainly not a reference book. Next week the other, much-promoted, 600-page Mary Go Wild will be released. Also, in the context of 25 years of dance in the Netherlands. Expectations are high. It would be wonderful if Dutch Dance and Mary Go Wild together historically, but then differently, managed to record a glorious piece of Dutch music history for posterity. This book is also recommended for dance professionals and marketers who would like to start something in dance. The book wouldn’t be out of place among the top 10 marketing books.
This review was originally published on DJMag.nl in October 2013.