2nd-4th August | Amsterdamse Bos, Netherlands
Photos: Bart Heemskerk, Yannick van der Wijngaert, Tim Buiting, Francoise Bolechowski & Tarona Leonora
“Friends, this is a set you’ll tell your children about. In 20 years’ time, you will tell your kids why you went to the club every weekend, and Ben UFO will be part of those stories. He’s part of our story, and we fucking love him for that.”
On the receiving end of this hair-raising send off, closing Boiler Room’s stage on the Saturday of this year’s Dekmantel, Ben UFO shook his head in disbelief. He is, without a doubt, part of my dance music blueprint. Boiler Room’s MC was right, Ben is responsible for many of our most memorable dance floor moments.
The crème de la crème of dance music festivals, Dekmantel serves up memorable dance floor moments, even for people that aren’t physically on their dance floor. This was their seventh edition, and the Amsterdam festival has long since been the frontrunner of astute video content. Dekmantel is slick and sophisticated with unparalleled attention to detail, and it’s not unreasonable to suggest that their icon status was cemented much faster thanks to our newsfeeds being inundated with those moments. So after years of watching Dekmantel unfold on a screen, 2019 marked my first year at the festival to experience the hype for myself.
“They’ve spent all their budget on smoke machines,” a friend joked on Sunday afternoon at the Boiler Room stage. One of my moments came in the midst of the haze on the Saturday, courtesy of Bruce, who whipped out an atmospheric edit of Beyoncé’s ‘Naughty Girl’ that had the dance floor looking around in disbelief. Earlier that day, Octo Octa and Eris Drew delivered one of the weekend’s best sets. The white Main Stage structure glistening in the sunshine, Eris stopping at one point to fan herself with a record, the pair (who are both lovers and label co-founders) brought an enchanting cosmic energy to Amsterdamse Bos, opting for sun-drenched house, breaks, and old-school rave cuts.
On the Sunday, women reigned supreme. Marie Davidson whipped the Greenhouse stage into a frenzy in the afternoon, her hypnotising live show including renditions of ‘So Right’ and new single ‘Chasing The Light’. I appreciated Roisin Murphy’s pitch-perfect vocal just as much as I did the fact that she had a clothes rail on stage so that she could switch up her accessories whenever she saw fit. object blue and Yu Su brought their respective distinctive palettes to the Red Light Radio stage, before Darwin & re:ni’s b2b for Boiler Room was a definite highlight, the pair reaching for tracks like Trevino’s ‘Tweakonomics’ and Coco Bryce ‘Wish We Didn’t’.
With a clued-up and respectful crowd, excellent sound, stylish design and seamless organisation, Dekmantel is doing it absolutely right. Long may she reign.
Listen to Marie Davidson’s ‘Chasing The Light’ here: