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October 2017
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A Night On the Town: Exploring the Clubbing Culture of Rotterdam

Bed. Blender. Annabel. Toffler. Many students living in Rotterdam will recognize these names, especially those who are avid partygoers. As someone who isn’t very interested in clubbing, I aim to explore why students enjoy clubbing so much and how Rotterdam is unique in its nightlife. After all, as someone once said: “No one looks back on their life and remembers the nights they got plenty of sleep.”


What’s the fuss?

When I moved to Europe after growing up in Asia, I immediately learned that clubbing is an inevitable part of every student’s life. Rotterdam is no exception.

I understand the appeal; you have dinner, you meet some friends for drinks, and then you go to one of the many clubs the city has to offer. You could also just meet your friends at a club at midnight after spending the evening studying. That’s what’s so great about clubbing; it’s a casual matter, but the night can end up as promiscuous as you’d like it to be.

What students like most about clubbing is the socializing aspect. One student living in Rotterdam said, “Going out in Rotterdam gives you the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life whom you might not come across otherwise. Meeting different people is a great learning experience. It has the ability to put everything in your own life and everything you thought you knew about life and humanity into a different perspective.”20150709_blender_Deliciacelik-26

As well as meeting new people and socializing, students also enjoy the overall atmosphere at some parties. Dominika Tess, a student at Erasmus University, expressed that she enjoys the “easy-going” atmosphere of parties, as well as the friendly people.

However, sometimes the large amount of people present in clubs can create the problem of over-crowdedness and discomfort. In Club Bed, for example, it takes thirty minutes to get from the entrance to the coat check area alone, which are only a few meters away from each other.

Nevertheless, students often end up having a good time, as drinking and dancing are major attractive elements of clubbing. In fact, many people attend clubs based on its music. Toyah van der Stel, who is the Design and Communication Assistant at popular Rotterdam nightclub Toffler, said, “The most popular nights are the ones with headliner Benny Rodrigues. Everyone knows him, as he is from Rotterdam, and we know he always delivers good quality house music.”

While this may be the case, some students have also expressed their distaste of techno music. One student went as far as to describe it as “ear-shattering, repetitive, thumping bass lines sprinkled with childish, nauseating melodies.” Dominika Tess, another student, also expressed her dislike of “the fact that mainstream music is everywhere.” Thus, it is evident that everyone has different tastes and needs, and there are plenty of clubs that offer a variety of music and experiences.


Going Dutch

The clubbing scene in the Netherlands is, of course, different from other countries. One student from Germany claimed that, “Partying is more low key in the Netherlands. In Munich, for instance, clubbing is much fancier.” Katrin Sieber, a student from Switzerland, also explained that, “Holland is quite casual in terms of dress code.” Zygimantas Valiulis, a club promoter in Rotterdam, also said that, “people look more casual and the venues are casual.” It seems that the Netherlands, especially Rotterdam, has built a reputation for its casual nightlife.

The Netherlands is also giving rise to a handful of famous DJs. From Tiësto to Afrojack, the Netherlands seems to be producing some great DJs, many of which have been voted the best in the world. For the most part, students enjoy the music in Dutch clubs, which features more house and techno. International students, as well as Dutch students, especially enjoy when the music suddenly changes from mainstream music to popular Dutch songs. One student said, “While it’s a huge transition, it bonds everyone for a couple of minutes.”

Clubbing in Rotterdam is unique in and of itself. Toyah van der Stel (Toffler) explained, “Clubbing in Rotterdam has had its ups and downs. When some of the famous clubs, including Now & Wow and Corso, were at their peak around 2003, there was a big clubbing scene in Rotterdam. After these crashed, the whole clubbing scene crashed with them. After that, clubbing had to be built up from the bottom and when Perron and Toffler were established, the trend of clubbing in Rotterdam started going up again. I can’t say we are back at our peak, but it’s still expanding.”12248147_10153733255352389_3566155792600512197_o

While Rotterdam’s nightlife scene cannot possibly compete with that of Amsterdam’s, Rotterdam still offers unique experiences in clubs like Annabel, Bird, and BAR. Ilayda Hagens, a student and frequent party goer, said that, “Rotterdam is unique for me because the nightlife here is extensive in choice and diverse just like in every big city, but once you find the places you like it feels familiar every time you go out.” Thomas Haitsma, another student, also expressed his fondness of barhopping, which is when you start at one bar and go to a few other bars during the course of the evening. “I find that this way, I can see new bars that are usually completely different in character, music, and vibes, than the previous bar,” he explained.

The downsides of clubbing in Rotterdam are often over-crowdedness, the prices of drinks, the prices for using the toilets, and the music (depending on your tastes). However, partying in Rotterdam is certainly unique, and, though it may sound cheesy, it is a memorable bonding experience. It will help define your student years, and it will definitely help you relieve some stress.

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