In the six years Trouw has been open, it’s become a genuine fixture of Amsterdam’s nightlife. With a Mediterranean restaurant, art space, and nightclub, it’s a cultural hub of sorts, hosting some of the best nights Europe has on offer.
Situated inside a former newspaper factory, it was the brainchild of Olaf Boswijk, former head booker at the famed Club 11, also a temporary space. And much like Club 11, Olaf has run Trouw with the belief that family – be it the promoters, staff or artists – and their core beliefs come before everything else, including money.
“It’s given many local Amsterdam producers and DJ a stage and a home, it’s like a close family,” Joris Voorn says
“They have really followed their own path, music and artistic wise, due to the musical program, expositions, readings, art projects and own restaurant,” Nuno dos Santos says.
And clearly, it’s a path that’s worked, as the club has played host to many of the world’s best DJs over the years, helping to further cement the city’s status on the world clubbing stage, pushing some of its residents into the global limelight.
Though ask, and those residents will tell you they knew Trouw was something special right from the beginning.
"The feel of Trouw was so different,” William Kouam Djoko remembers. Having been a regular at Club 11, William first walked into Trouw on opening weekend, eventually running the Late Night Society club night with Boris Werner from 2010 to 2013.
“Dark, raw, industrial and a sound system being not up to task yet,” William says about first walking in. “Automatically you tend to compare and be critical, but right from the start I knew this building would be something other than anything we had seen here in Amsterdam.”
“I was amazed by the location, the rawness, the high ceiling. I immediately felt the location was perfect for techno,” says Sandrien, who began her Imprint residency four years ago after talking Boswijk into a ‘try out.’
“The first edition of Imprint was a success right away, and we've never spoken about try-outs anymore,” she remembers.
Nuno dos Santos, who was already a DJ at Club 11 before moving to Trouw and beginning his Something Happening Somewhere, first remembers Trouw playing his 360 night with Seth Troxler.
“The room was really dark back then with only one glowing light bulb. The place was packed and you could already tell there was this instant great vibe in the club. Also I remember at the time you where still able to look outside of the windows (they placed shutters later on) and while playing you can see the traffic go by – very special.”
While there might be more elaborate lighting these days – it’s one of the club’s most adored and defining characteristics – the club’s overall design clearly helped it stand out early on.
“The space upstairs gives you this feeling, am I in a club or warehouse? And the basement might as well be a bunker in the middle of nowhere. It’s like a little playground for the lovers of the night,” Boris Werner says.
Reflecting on why his and William’s party series worked, Werner remembers, “Trouw was a new place where you could fill in the night in a way you pleased and we wanted more then just a night with a DJ playing records, doing things slightly different. Also we thought about this slogan: Dress up chic, act like trash. The more dressed up you came in the more you could go bananas. That pretty sums up how it went down most of the nights!”
But without the right combination of factors, even the most unique space in the world might not give birth to something deserving if its grand nature.
“There’s always something going on, be it the club, the restaurant, art exhibitions, or great ideas being spawned to enhance nightlife and youth culture. I think this aura reflects on all who wander through Trouw’s doors,” William says.
Along with the cultural impact the club has had through its many different artistic endeavours, it is, at its core, an incredible nightclub. Entering the main room’s long, narrow corridor for the first time can be almost disorienting. The DJ is nowhere in sight, instead replaced by a sea of bodies, powerful lights and frocking silhouettes on the stage. Work your way closer, and you find the DJ is eye level with the crowd, a feature Joris Voorn finds essential.
“Being surrounded by people makes DJing an intense experience – people in front of you, next to you and right behind you dancing on stage,” Joris says. “You’re literally part of the party instead of being somewhere on a stage 10 meters from the audience. Many clubs can and should learn from this warm welcome layout! It’s like all the stars are aligned at Trouw."
This year, Trouw was also given a 24-hour license – one of the few in Europe outside of Berlin or London – creating some lasting moments for club goers and residents alike.
Sandrien remembers, “The first time we could use the 24-hour license, Heleen and I finished the Imprint night around 08:00. Afterwards we were chilling in the office, laying on the floor with the lights out and we could still hear a beat going on in the club. It felt so weird and liberating, freedom.
During the last Imprint Weekender in September (a 34 hour party) I slept at Trouw. That was pretty special too. They arranged a bed for me in the office, with a towel, toothpaste and toothbrush on the side. Perfect! This way I could be at Trouw the whole weekend and experience it all."
Though it wasn't only 2014 that's etched into the memories of those who called it home for the last six years.
"I will never forget the back-to-back set of Andrew Weatherhall & DJ Harvey," Nuno Dos Santos says. "They where playing at a really low BPM at 02:00 am when I heard this track 'Mustat Varjot' by Roberto Rodriguez for the first time. Gerd Janson, Patrice and I all made a run to the DJ booth to get a track ID!"
"Ohhh, too many too choose from," says Boris Wener. But some our first LNS with a live performance of the Dirt Machine, the birthday special of LNS in 2012, the back-to-back-to-back-to-back sessions with my brothers Tom Trago, William Kouam Djoko and Makam..."
"Every night at Trouw has been amazing," Joris Vorrn remembers. The nights with Edwin Oosterwal, my all night long sets, the night I invited Kolsch, Kolsch and became great friends with him, too many good memories."
So the obvious question is, what's next?
"First I'm going to cry for a month and go on a holiday," Sandrien admits. "I certainly wish to continue Imprint after Trouw. I'll probably do some one-offs next year, and I'm looking for a new place to do Imprint nights on a regular basis or do some international Imprint nights. I'll be playing a lot and I'm going to focus more on producing."
Others aren't so sure.
“I have no clue, and to be honest, I like that,” William states.
Dos Santos says simply, "It’s the end of an era."