The water’s got an icy gloom, you can see your breath and you’re waiting impatiently for the ferry arrive to take you across the water. Usually the concept of being freezing & anticipating my night out would deter me slightly, but all these factors added to the excitement. 95% of people are all in the same boat, pardon the pun, then a mass herd of people eagerly scuttle off the ferry to the entrance of STRAF_WERK – Scheepsbouwloods.

For some reason I didn’t expect the venue to be as big or as cool as it was, despite the fact each stage was described as “Area 1” or “Area 2”. The first Area, played host to Reinier Zonneveld, Finnebassen, Andhim, Hot Since 82 & Enrico Sangiuliano. I wasn’t in time to catch Zonneveld but I was greeted by the first half hour of Finnebassen’s set. The huge pillars of the first stage divided the space as people slowly began to bop to the mellow mixture of old house classics that slowly progressed into a more up-beat contemporary tempo. Having attempted to devise some sort of strategy to catch a glimpse of each set, it soon came to my attention that due to the sheer enjoyment of the sets I was already attending, the pure capacity of the venue would make this almost impossible and not worth while cutting through the crowd.

The graffiti ridden transportation crates of Area 2 beckoned us and I found myself making a run for it when I heard Andrea Oliva’s recent release on Cuttin’ Headz, ‘Vermona’. After an intense weekend at ADE this song is one of the pinnacle moments I remember of the whole weekend when it was dropped at HYTE’s Sunday event. From this moment on it was evident that everyone was in for a stonker of a night. Area 2 welcomed Amsterdam’s own Luuk van Dijk, Route 94 b2b Huxley and ANOTR. Having premiered van Dijk’s newest track ‘New York’ earlier that day, I was intrigued and excited to see what the boy my age had to offer, and I was certainly not disappointed. Delivering countless crowd pleasers as well as a variety of sound distortions, it was this combined with his enthusiastic and humble stage presence that really contributed to the delivery of his set.

The next 3 hours were a great example of the positive direction that tech-house is heading to, and also how other genres are accommodating this progression. Within the last few years, the combi-genre has received a lot of negative connotations associated with macho-men and check-list names, however Straf_Werk has solidified my gratitude towards the curation of a successful event that manages to deny these stereotypes.

After spending most of my evening in Area 2 I made my way back to the towering pillars to catch Enrico Sangiuliano. The evening took an abrupt deviation into a more industrial sound that complementied the location’s setting. The event was reaching its final hour but those attending didn’t show any signs of doing so. Groups of people begun to shuffle into congregation to plan their departure into the welcoming hours of the Saturday morning rush.

You can catch the next episode of Straf_Werk unravel on February 24th in Rotterdam.

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Photo credit: Kirsten van Santen