To Dance is to be Free

Stadsarchief Amsterdam - 2023 - 2024

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14 October 2023 – 18 February 2024
Stadsarchief Amsterdam

In the autumn of 2023, the Amsterdam City Archives celebrates the night.

Club culture is a mirror of the zeitgeist. Clubs are places of great cultural and social value to the city and its citizens, yet the club experience is mostly intangible. The exhibition To Dance is to be Free explores the most important aspects of club culture in Amsterdam from 1980 until today, using photos, personal stories, flyers, video, music, visual art, documents and unique objects. Memories from the RoXY, iT, Mazzo, Club 11 and TrouwAmsterdam, among others, are combined with the stories behind contemporary clubs and organisations such as Paradiso, Club NYX, De School and Garage Noord.

The exhibition is not a chronological, historical overview of Amsterdam club culture, but highlights different aspects that play an important role in its nightlife. Innovation, emancipation, experimentation and creativity take centre stage. The exhibition pays tribute to legendary clubs from the past and present that influenced and continue to inspire new generations. It is a feast of recognition for those who have spent many a night out in Amsterdam, and a journey of discovery for everyone else.

Several generations of clubgoers have developed their identity, made friends or found love in Amsterdam’s nightlife. In a club, shame is set aside and daytime rules do not apply. Here, people of all ages celebrate a parallel existence. Thanks to an interplay of music, dance, light, decor and other sensory stimuli, there is room for total ecstasy and euphoria. Moving closely together in the dark, people can forget the stress of everyday life for a while. To dance is to be free.

Bastard Orange Lighting Design created the lighting design for the exhibition.

Client: Stadsarchief Amsterdam| Exhibition Design : Synergique | Curator : Mainique Hendriks | Project management : Nikki Boot | Exhibition builder : Exhibitionists | Lighting Design : BOLD