Blijburg Aan Zee, Amsterdam
The celebratory nature of Oranjebloesem is the primary feeling that permeates the entire event. For those unversed in Dutch national holidays, the annual King’s Day marks the monarch’s birthday and is a welcome party that begins the night before, and often continues well into the actual King’s Day. Oranjebloesem is the annual King’s Day party at Blijburg Aan Zee in Amsterdam – an area of beautiful reclaimed land that serves as a slice of city beach life in the summer. Today, it’s full of stages and people adorned in orange clothing.
The other notable feature about Oranjebloesem is the extremely short running time. While King’s Day allows for a relaxation of the licensing laws, everything has to be done by 8pm. This left us very little time for procrastination, so we got on with things.
We arrive to the sound of German live techno experimentalists Extrawelt taking things in their stride in the largest of the two tents erected for the occasion. The hosting of music outdoors is essentially what makes for such an exuberant atmosphere here, and after staying on for the always wonderful Ata Kak, complete with obligatory dance moves, we’re inclined to take our party into the open air.
Âme’s live show is always a reliable booking for a festival, but yet again it goes to showcase how far apart the DJ and live music arm of the double act have become in recent times. It’s always fun to hear the latest production concoctions from Frank Wiedemann and, even better, the crowd stays on to see Micheal Mayer, who is arguably the day’s standout. Eschewing the more emotionally tinged vocals of Kompakt’s output in recent times, and the tracks on his recent DJ-Kicks compilation, he plays a set that combines a tougher output than I’m used to that combines a real flow. The melancholia of Kompakt is there, but the set feels made for dancing and takes control of the now surging crowd.
A trip over the sand sees two of Amsterdam’s prodigal sons take to the decks. Dekemantel Soundsystem have built quite the reputation on their home turf as spinners in their own right and their set – a rarity for them not to be a playing under their own banner – leans on disco and groove flavours befitting the outdoor setting. It’s then left to Optimo to close proceedings in a typically awesome fashion; their brand of impeccably mixed charged grooves and body-moving genre morphing excellence sees the beach crowd off in perfect fashion.
Oranjebloesem’s charm lies in the effort that goes into hosting an event that runs for such a short period of time. Its success lies in a booking policy that is high on quality (but could definitely improve in terms of gender diversity) and provides the aforementioned selectors with a relaxed atmosphere to delve into more playful sounds on The Netherlands’ special day.