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The Urbanist’s Amsterdam: What to Do

The Vondelbunker  

Paint the Canals Red
A trio of night-crawling Amsterdammers on where to go after dark.

See and Be Seen
—Edward Liddiard, copywriter and screenwriter

Start Here:
“Le Patron (Vijzelgracht 63, De Weteringschans; 20-627-3747) is a lads bar, but a lot women go, too. It’s a great place to watch Ajax games. You also find TV presenters and actors, all up close and personal. Ruben van der Meer, a comedian, hangs out all the time.”

Go Here Next:
“The techno club Trouw (Wibautstraat 127, Amsterdam-Oost; 20-463-7788) just got a 24-hour license. It’s located in an old pressing room of a major Dutch newspaper, which makes it feel industrial. The people are fashionable, international, but it’s not flashy at all—boy, girl, gay, straight, doesn’t matter. Just don’t show up in a suit and tie.”

Party With Squatters
—Emma Wierda, chef and activist

Start Here:
“One of Amsterdam’s unique features is its mass of publicly squatted spaces—like OCCII (Amstelveenseweg 134, 20-671-7778), which was legalized 24 years ago and is arguably the godfather of Amsterdam’s underground. The complex hosts shows, classes, and events, and there’s a vegan restaurant called MKZ where you can get a three-course meal for around €5.”

Go Here Next:
“The Vondelbunker (Vondelpark; was used as a bomb shelter during World War II. It’s now home to an art-focused squat collective called Schijnheilig, or ‘hypocritical.’ They host free rock shows most Saturdays and Sundays starting around 9 p.m., as well as film nights, art expos, and underground electro-techno parties.”

Have a One-Night Stand
—Mark Visbeek, editor of

Start Here:
“At Bloemenbar (Handboogstraat 15, Centrum; no phone), the average age is maybe 25. There’s a big open dance floor and a balcony above it. The music starts off with indie rock, then moves to dance later. Each table has a telephone you can use to call other tables, in case you want to chat up someone across the club.”

Go Here Next:
“Club Roque (Amstel 178, Centrum; no phone) is actually a gay club, where guys go to cruise. But they have a new mixed-gender night on Fridays called Chaos. It’s still very underground, but it’s the talk of the town right now.”

Seeking the Next Vermeer
With two of the city’s major museums largely out of commission, local galleries and other institutions seized upon the opportunity to attract a new audience. As a result, the alternative art scene in Amsterdam is booming. Here, an abridged tour through art collector and urban planner Kai van Hasselt’s favorite places to scope out the next generation of up-and-comers.

Jeanine Hofland Contemporary Art
“Hofland opened this in a converted shop, so it still has bare wood floors—it’s the most Lower East Side gallery in the city. She represents conceptual artists like Maarten Overdijk and Rebecca Digne and does a lot of interesting projects. Last year, she did a mini art fair, for example, where she invited a bunch of foreign galleries to show in her space.” De Clercqstraat 62, Amsterdam Oud-West; 20-753-1596.

Ellen de Bruijne Projects
“This is my favorite gallery in Amsterdam, and it’s on the second floor, which makes it feel like a bit of a secret. Ellen is a really good artist finder—she’s great at discovering young people who sooner or later go on to have really amazing careers, like Lara Almarcegui, who represented Spain at the Venice Biennale.” Rozengracht 207 A, Jordaan; 20-530-4994.

Martin Van Zomeren
“Van Zomeren is very international. He started the gallery with a lot of foreign artists who were at art schools here in the city, as well as some locals. There’s a Dutch duo he represents, Maurice Scheltens and Liesbeth Abbenes, who started out in commercial photography, but took it to an abstract level; like, they would put an object on a turntable, then use a long shutter time to shoot it as it spun around.” Prinsengracht 276 hs, Jordaan; 20-420-8129.

Lumen Travo Gallery
“Gallery owner Marianne van Tilborg works with a lot of artists from Africa. One of my favorites, Otobong Nkanga, is from Nigeria and does these performances and makes some of the most extraordinary drawings, which all touch on the powerful boundaries created by oil, money, corruption, and gender structures in her native country.” Lijnbaansgracht 314, Grachtengordel-Zuid; 20-627-0883.

De Appel Arts Centre
“This nonprofit art space, located in an old music-school building, is right near Central Station, looking over the water toward the new Amsterdam Public Library. They have a great exhibition space where they show all kinds of established, mid-career artists, like Bjarne Melgaard and Mika Rottenberg.” Prins Hendrikkade 142, Centrum/Nieuwmarkt; 20-625-5651.

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