Being based in the Middle East puts the carefree European clubbing landscape into perspective on a regular basis. So, during the downtime of Ramadan I find myself and my partner in crime heading westwards yet again. The first stop on my musical tour de force is the German capital and indeed the centre of many a DJ’s universe…

Berlin, being a law unto itself means open-ended weekends and debauched parties that would test the resolve of even the most hardened of party heads. In relatively small doses, this city offers something special that few cities experience on a regular basis and that is a tangible air that something special could happen at any given moment. This may sound like a romantic notion, but when you consider the clubs that call Berlin home and the unbelievable artists that make up its lineups each weekend, it doesn’t sound so far-fetched does it?


First up on my club hopping “spree” is the spring closing party from French party starters J.A.W on Friday, June 16. The brainchild of three French music heads which has brought an impressive cast of artists to their family reunions over the years, Moodymann, Larry Heard and Theo Parrish are just a few of the family members that have stopped by to catch up. What makes this party all the more tantalising is the setting. Taking place in the intimate surroundings of Kreuzberg club Prince Charles, catching an intimate set from headliner Danilo Plessow, otherwise known as super selector Motor City Drum Ensemble could just be the highlight of the trip. His goose bump inducing sets have become the staple of the more discerning festivals around the world, but Danilo remains grounded and still takes his role in the party very seriously. Danilo will be joined by newcomer to the J.A.W. family Waxist, a talented selector who isn’t afraid to take a few chances with his song selection. Also on the bill is a young French lady – Clémentine, who is making serious waves in Europe at present.


Allowing for Friday night to well and truly run its course, dissipate and then have time for me to recharge those all-important batteries for Sunday, which is far from a day of rest in Berlin. In Berlin, it’s a decathlon, not an egg and spoon race. Kicking things off will be a visit to my favourite bar in Berlin, nay the known and unknown universe – Club der Visionaere. Known for its relaxed atmosphere, expertly programmed line-ups and of course the idyllic setting out on the sun terrace by the Spree.

This particular day/night party called Glow offers a great array of local and international guests over the course of the day, and next morning. A few artists that I have been keeping tabs on recently are part of an expressive 6 person Spanish-Italian collective called Slow Life, namely Primary Perception and Cecilio. The former, made of Berliner brothers will be performing live and the latter will be flexing his DJ muscles for the intimate crowds on the sun deck. I am also excited about catching One Records artist John Dimas. The Grecian artist has been pricking up my ears for some time now and his tight rolling grooves will be simply irresistible in these circumstances. Pray for sunshine.

Also, taking place that day is an all day, night and morning label party with one of Germany’s most discerning imprints and clubs – Live at Robert Johnson. The Offenbach club and label of the same name will be taking over the sprawling indoor/outdoor surroundings of Else for an open-ended celebration of the label’s recent “Lifesaver 3” compilation. The output from the label is nothing short of ridiculous but the wealth of talent both the club and the imprint has at its disposal is scary. Namely label head Ata and, one of my personal favourite artists Roman Flügel. Having been a follower of Flügel since his earlier Alter Ego days, I have been massively influenced by the German tastemaker and his various guises and I couldn’t think of a better way to round out my Berlin club tour.


Being a DJ first and foremost, there is no way I could spend any amount of time in Berlin and not indulge in the age-old DJ past time of crate digging and Berlin is one of the best cities in Europe to bag yourself some hidden gems. The obvious choice would be Hard Wax, Space Hall and OYE Records, but I am also looking forward to checking out the various thrift stores and second hand stores dotted around Berlin’s older parts. This is where the fun really begins.


Moving on from Berlin, I will be making my way to Amsterdam where I will more time to decamp my mind a little and take in the sights of this beautiful and historic city. Obviously, there are all sorts of sinful activities that can be enjoyed, but like most DJ’s clothes shopping, namely, trainer shopping is high on the list of activities. With Amsterdam becoming a bit of sneaker haven my first port of call will be home-grown street wear store Patta, closely followed by Sneaker District, Sunika (Japanese for sneaker) and the futuristic Solebox gets a special mention for their décor alone.

In much the same way as in Berlin, when I am not jumping about clubs or festivals I will be up to my elbows in vinyl. Like its clubs, Amsterdam is famous for having some of the best record stores in Europe. For a point of reference look no further than Rush Hour Records, a label, distribution arm, and the record store steeped in insurmountable amounts of history. The much-lauded record store now in its 20th year regularly plays host to DJ sets which are streamed from their own music channel.


With the legendary club Trouw resigned to legend, the lovely team behind the much-loved club have set up shop in an old school and have funnily enough called it De School. Much of this venue is housed in the now defunct bicycle shed, and if you have been to Holland you will know how many bikes there are there. So, you have a good idea of the size of the main part of the club. Capacity aside, the fact that they boast some of the best line-ups in the city on a weekly basis is more than enough to warrant interest, and the fact they have one of their favourite sons in Tom Trago playing all night long is more than enough to pique my interest.


Although Amsterdam can more than hold a candle to Berlin’s bursting at the seams club scene, I have one item firmly on the agenda and that is the mega festival known as Awakenings Festival. Having been keeping tabs on this festival for some time, I have watched it grow into an event that is almost as big as Amsterdam itself. Boasting 8 stage, Awakenings caters for most variants of underground techno and house and does so with the aid of some of the best festival production and line-ups in Europe. The 2-day event taking place at Spaarnwoude, just outside Amsterdam’s city centre offers sets from Nina Kraviz, Tale of Us, Dax J, Sven Vath, Ricardo Villalobos and Maceo Plex and that is just day one (Saturday, June 24). Day 2 is a straight up affair of the heart, for most of Sunday, each stage plays host to headliner after headliner with the pick of these being Wighnomy Brothers, Floorplan (LIVE), Loco Dice and of course Joris Voorn’s closing set. If techno is your thing there are few events that will cover as much ground as Awakenings. Expect a full match report on all of my findings, assuming I return alive that is.

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