Oct 5, 2022
4 min read
Located in the heart of Amsterdam, the Gashouder is a breathtaking venue synonymous with techno music. It's one of the fountainheads of early dance music and has hosted some of the biggest names and events in electronic music. But before the fabled club became "The Pride of Westergas," it endured a less glamorous role from the 1800s through the turn of the century as a storage facility for the fuel that powered Amsterdam.
The now idyllic grounds of Westergas were once home to Amsterdam's gasworks, a cluster of 22 stark, industrial buildings that created and housed fuel for the city. The buildings were designed by prominent Dutch architect Isaac Gosschalk and constructed in 1880 by London Imperial Continental Gas Association for coal gas production. The gas replaced oil in the late 1800s to light the streets of Amsterdam with an amber glow. However, as the city modernized, gas production faded, and the factories soon became obsolete.
By 1967, the Westergas factories had ceased operation, leaving to question the future use of the abandoned spaces. For decades, the city and local businesses used the buildings as storage and workspaces.
Never leaving a good warehouse to waste, European DJs began hosting raves at some of the facilities in the early '90s. And in 1992, local entrepreneurs gained interest in the untapped potential of the polluted and decaying brick structures. Eventually, new renters and the City Council poured in over 31 million euros to renovate the space. What used to be a source of pollution was transformed into a beacon of culture, commerce, and sustainability.
By the late '90s, the forgotten cluster of dull industrial buildings had become a colorful and bustling hub of arts and entertainment with Gashouder as its celebrated centerpiece. The imposing monolith of stone transformed into a world-class entertainment venue that could comfortably house 3,500 visitors in the inner space of the former gas storage tank. The rise of techno in Amsterdam in the '90s, coupled with the newly renovated space, created the perfect storm for Gashouder to become globally synonymous with techno and house.
Electronic music was becoming an international sensation, and Amsterdam had a foothold in defining the sound of early European dance music. In 1996, Amsterdam Music Event (ADE) hosted its first three-day conference, with performances by 30 DJs and attendance of 300 industry delegates. And in 1997, Awakenings held its first techno night at Gashouder with DJs Angelo, Billy Nasty, Derrick May, Dimitri, Godard, and Nick Rapaccioli. Today, ADE is a mecca for music professionals, attracting over 400,000 attendees to 200 venues. The conference began incorporating Awakenings early on, which now hosts 300,000 visitors yearly at some of the most renowned techno events worldwide. As the home to Awakenings, Gashouder is now an essential stop on any ADE trip.
Known for hosting some of the most epic techno events in Europe, Gashouder has become a destination venue for music festivals, concerts, conferences, exhibitions, and more. Patrons have dubbed it the "Temple of Techno" and Amsterdam's most spectacular venue, not only because of the lineups but also the quality of production and the space's vacuous nature.
The round stone behemoth boasts massive, nearly 50 foot ceilings and an iron roof, with no pillars to obstruct views of the stage. Because of its colossal size, party-goers are often dazzled by indoor fireworks displays launched from the ceiling 3.5 stories overhead. Thoughtfully crafted showcases mean no two performances are alike, but they always meet and exceed the same high standards of the venue.
Shivani Murthy of THE - Music Essentials described her first techno experience at Gashouder, "Being the techno virgins that we were, we went in with zero expectations and had absolutely no idea about who and what we were going to witness there. To summarise what we experienced, all I can say is, by the end of the night, we were baptized at the 'Techno Temple' and came out yearning for more!"
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the 2019 edition of ADE Awakenings was streamed online as a free event. DJ performances were filmed at Gashouder and streamed into fans' living rooms across the globe via social networking platforms. As live shows return triumphantly, ADE and Awakenings are back in action. Awakenings will present six ADE shows in 2022, back where it all started, at the legendary Gashouder.