Iconic Amsterdam: Joost van Bellen

April 16, 2018

Few Dutch DJs have been around for as long as Joost van Bellen (1962, Leiden). This discodinosaur and his moustache pioneered the Dutch house scene in the 1980s, and have been going strong ever since. They push the limits of on- and offstage entertainment with his circus-like shows. After a third of a century it is time to reflect on and respect this extravagant grandfather. 


[ Source: https://www.topbillin.nl/news/archive/joost-van-bellen-all-night/ ]


In 1984, Van Bellen opened an underground club named Armageddon in the heart of Amsterdam’s squat scene. Here he would play an eclectic mix of garage punk, 60’s psychedelic, and country music. When due to nuisance the club had to be shut, he started blasting his psychedelic acid house at established clubs throughout the city. The most notable of these was the RoXY - a legendary club were few of our generation have set foot in before an inferno burned away the supposedly most raucous party place in the country in 1999. From ’87 to ’89 he was the club’s resident DJ, from ’91 to ’97 he even took office as artistic director. 


The always grumpy looking yet jolly DJ has since been kicking against everyone and everything trying to over-commercialise the dance scene. This eventually resulted in his little business “Veel Meubel Stukken BV” - a creative agency with which he and a team organised events that combined music, art, fashion and heaps of confetti. Besides throwing own parties he is nearly a resident at Lowlands, one of the Netherlands’ major festivals. Here he would run the Titty Twister for three years in a row: a rockbar so nasty it would be inappropriate in Vegas.


[ Joost van Bellen @ Holland Festival 2015 ] 


His true multidisciplinary genius resulted in the released his debut novel “Pandaogen” (Panda Eyes) in 2014. Unfortunately the book remains untranslated into English, but with it Joost has certainly shown his skill as a both a writer and artist. The story revolves around the New York fashion scene, which Van Bellen has been providing the soundtrack for throughout the 2000s. 


On a serious note, Van Bellen was part of the first team of night mayors in Amsterdam called "de Nachtwacht" (The Night Watch, after Rembrandt’s famous painting). He and his comrades instigated night-cultural representation in the city council by being there for all related parties. 


[ Source: http://www.perfects.nl/weblog/sentimental-flight-lowlands-paradise/ ]


The man by now is well over half a century old already, yet his favourite track remains Alphaville’s Forever Young. Nowadays he has his bimonthly all-nighter in Melkweg, Amsterdam, in which he only leaves the stage to get new beers from his backstage fridge. This vodka-drenched legend has been a pioneer and remains a guardian for all who like to push boundaries, escape comfort zones, and kick ass.

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