AROUND THE WORLD
Techno has risen!
Believe it or not, organizer Rocco Veenboer didn't even know what the meaning of Easter was when he set out to create an epic Dutch Techno fest in the spring of 1997. But when he found out that the Christian holiday was intended to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, the title “Awakenings” was born.
Rocco developed the first Awakenings with his sister Natasja as the event agency Monumental Productions BV. They have held these roving Dutch Techno parties multiple times a year (not just on Easter) for a decade and a half.
What started in the Westerpark in Amsterdam has expanded to other Dutch locations, such as Eindhoven, Rotterdam, and the beautiful Spaarnwoude recreational area between Amsterdam and Haarlem. In 2014, editions of the festival had even spread internationally to New York and London.
“Awakenings has a soul, and you can feel it!” Rocco philosophizes but also adds, “Of course, the good locations, the line-ups, and the standard bizarrely intense shows also contribute to this.”
The ideal festival?
Part of the appeal of Awakenings is its comfort and accessibility. Relaxed car access routes often ensure traffic jam-less entrance and exit. Sites are compact without being cramped to create easy walks between stages. Rarely would you ever have to wait in line for food or drink, and the toilets are free!...and they flush! What more could you ask for?
Crowds tend to increase every year for this rustic, reasonably priced festival. Awakenings attract returning loyalists as well as curious first-timers who have heard about the legend of Awakenings.
To label Awakenings as "underground" would be inaccurate. The gigantic editions in the Gashouder of the Westergasfabriek are extravagant and expensive. But the smaller, indoor parties in old monumental buildings, however, present a smaller, more intimate atmosphere that are more reminiscent of the underground roots of the scene.
Awakenings is an event where you can see established acts, as well as up-and-coming artists. These legendary celebrations have been themed according to techno music such as Minimal, Detroit, Schranz, Drumcode, or Kne'deep.
Awakenings Festival in 2001 was the first outdoor edition of the party and an essential step towards how massive this event would become. This version is often seen as the quintessential Awakenings edition. On a hot summer day, fire trucks doused sweltering visitors with water as they enjoyed steamy, Techno bliss.
“Techno is the basis of all dance movements out there,” proclaims founder Rocco Veenboer. And while the minimalism and BPM of Techno might be more difficult to adjust to if you are used to House or Trance, once you connect with the music, you will appreciate it more and usually become a dedicated fan.
“We have quite a lot of new visitors at Awakenings who first went to hardstyle or trance parties,” Rocco explains. “But ultimately found those movements too monotonous.”
Awakenings is an event where the fans voted Dutch Trance DJ Tiesto not to be allowed to perform because they didn’t think he could spin Techno. This crowd takes its Techno seriously!
A quarter-century of Awakenings
Awakenings will be celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2022. Awakenings was "the" Techno party in the Netherlands for an entire generation. But for all the music, lights, smoke, and production value that this Dutch institution has established over the years, Awakenings' longevity is primarily due to one factor. The people.
The father of Awakenings, Rocco Veenboer, admits, “For me, it's still a great feeling to walk around and see all those nice people going crazy.”