A night out with Mila van der Linden usually goes like this: rave, get into trouble, crawl in at 10am. Worst comedown, best night.
It’s safe to say the 26-year-old Amsterdam native knows a good party – she’s at the forefront of the city’s nightlife evolution, where 24-hour clubs are now popping up and more and more female DJs are rightfully taking the spotlight. Having started raving at the age of 15 when she’d catch a train to Rotterdam and spend her weekends at gabber raves, she developed an intense love for nightlife and helped carve her reputation for her weekend-long partying in Amsterdam.
Recently creating visuals for Van Gogh Museum’s monthly night in collaboration with Appelsap festival, van der Linden’s characteristically idiosyncratic films were shown alongside a mix of techno, house and hip-hop, paying homage to the acid house and Eurodance music videos she’s inspired by. Read on for Amsterdam raving tips from a true party pro.
How did you first develop a passion for raving?
I was 15 years old hanging out with a group of older people that introduced me to new music and raving. Before that, only two places would let us in – this bar in a squat house, and a shitty tourist bar that did rock nights. This was about 11 years ago and dubstep was the thing. I remember going to this illegal rave that was under a tunnel in the outskirts of Amsterdam and then biking home in the sunshine at 9am thinking ‘yup, this is it’. Something about the energy and people letting go of inhibitions felt like home to me.
Can you talk a bit about the Rotterdam gabber scene and the raves you went to in your teens?
The origins of it were before my time, but it was still going on when I started going out. I had friends that lived in Rotterdam and smaller cities surrounding it so I’d tell my mum I was sleeping at a friend’s house in Amsterdam (sorry mum), then I’d take the train to Rotterdam. We used to go to this place called Watt which did hardcore nights, they eventually shut it down over noise complaints. I have a very vivid memory of a guy crawling to the smoking area thinking he was a snail.
What’s special about Amsterdam’s club scene?
It’s very easy to cycle around on your bike and hop from place to place. It has really changed for the better over the past years and is working its way up to being one of the best in the world. What’s special are the clubs with 24 hour licensing, hopefully with more to come. There’s a strong community feeling to it, maybe because of the size of the city – we all know each other. I can go to a place by myself and I will 100% find people I know to dance with. It’s pretty crazy how many good DJs from all over the world are playing here every weekend but also how much talent we have here in the Netherlands.
If you could change anything about the Amsterdam raving scene, what would it be?
At the moment there isn’t much I’d change because I just moved back here – I’m enjoying the freedom to really let go on weekends and dance for hours which I missed when I lived in London, where it requires so much organising just to go out, then it gets stressful.
If someone is visiting Amsterdam for the weekend, where do you recommend they go?
De School – there’s no place you can feel more free in Amsterdam than there. You aren’t allowed to take pictures or videos which only adds to the magic – Sunday is particularly fun. Garage Noord is a great grimy rave cave with very refreshing programming. Claire has great sounds and stays open ’til 7am. Sexyland is a shack on an industrial area that has a different owner every night and does great hip-hop nights. Furthermore, visit Bret, Shelter and Radion!
Other than Amsterdam, where are your favourite places to go out raving and why?
It’s a cliché to the max but I visit my friend in Berlin every so often for a weekend and it never disappoints. I don’t think I have to tell you where we go…
Lastly, any DJs you’d like to shout out?