In conversation with co-founder MARRØN and DJ and producer Rene Wise.
One blessed Sunday last November, we woke up earlier than usual, had a wholesome breakfast followed by a purifying preparation of the body and face; a carefully picked outfit on, tiny bag under arm with essentials for the occasion—lip gloss, water, gum, hand fan—and a hat, for the sun outside was blazing and the sky was blue. Long story short, it was time to serve, but this time around the spirit to worship was a sound and the holy place, a club.
On certain occasions like the one described above, preparations for a rave and the experience of it feel sacred, church-like and truly transcendental, and making our way to Amsterdam’s EERSTE COMMUNIE on that Sunday was precisely that (and more). Having started out as an intimate dance gathering outside of the city less than a year ago, EERSTE COMMUNIE is already a most beloved and highly anticipated happening in the local underground scene. And deservedly so.
With door-sale only, clearly vocalized rules and a team of close friends, EC is thoroughly dedicated to providing intimacy and unity for each and every single partygoer. Six resident DJs—Rein Ole, Optics, Ignez, LVTL, Windfuhr and MARRØN—keep the rave flow consistent with a rhythm of up-beat, rolling techno and sets that last a minimum of 6 hours. The story told by the sound is one throughout which evolution reigns over interruption, and once past the entrance doors it’s genuinely hard to unstick your feet off the dancefloor. Ever since last November’s 14-hour dance ritual, certain questions about the rave kept teasing our mind. That’s why we reached out to resident MARRØN and soon-to-debut DJ Rene Wise, with whom we discuss the distinctive EC sound, safety on the dancefloor, and tips for your own career in the industry.
Hey both, what does EERSTE COMMUNIE mean to you personally?
MARRØN: EERSTE COMMUNIE is about going back to basics, it’s about connecting the purest form of techno with a crowd that is glued to the dance floor because of the sound. We’re trying to build an element of guaranteed trust with our audience so that they don’t worry about line-ups or timetables, regardless of who’s playing or when it will always be rhythmic techno all day and night. We feel like this is where we separate ourselves from others; the strong emphasis on building a story during our entire event.
Rene Wise: For me, EC represents a family and collective, who are pushing the concept of upbeat, rolling techno with a strong vision of creating unity on the dancefloor.
And why the name, “EERSTE COMMUNIE”?
M: It relates to one’s first acquaintance with a community, this can be interpreted as something religious but in our case it’s the acquaintance with our sound and the vibe that we’re trying to create between the DJ and the crowd. We aim for an atmosphere where there’s no juxtaposition between the DJ and the audience; instead, we’re a community.
Sound appears to be perhaps the most integral part to the party. What are the key elements to that distinctive EC sound you speak of?
M: This is something we emphasize the most, our sound is defined by being up-tempo, energetic, rolling, and rhythmic. Right now, we count six resident DJs—Rein Ole, Optics, Ignez, LVTL, Windfuhr and myself [MARRØN]. We all have our own style and our own feel towards techno, but we do strive for those same key elements in our music. In this way, our sets mesh quite well together and from a dancer’s perspective, you’ll experience it as one larger story of techno.
Why do you think this sound, and the crowd it attracts is important to the evolution of the underground scene, especially in The Netherlands?
RW: The style that EC delivers strikes a chord within people to move and dance because it’s human nature to feel captivated by a rhythm. You could say it’s almost tribalistic, and I think the EC sound will always attract a crowd that truly come along for the love of the music. Regarding the importance of EC to the evolution of the underground scene in The Netherlands, I haven’t been involved in the Dutch scene for too long, so I’ll let MARRØN pick up on that…
M: The sound is very important because there are cravings for it, we know this based on our own feelings from looking at the scene through a dancer’s point of view. To me, this up-tempo, rhythmic style of techno is a style that’s timeless; music that can be played in the afternoon or as a closing slot without getting bored of it. We also believe in uniting and not in competing over who has the best crowd or best line-ups, it’s about evolving this sound and movement in the right way and building a comradery together.
When I visited EC’s November edition, I genuinely felt a warm and cosy vibe throughout the entire 14 hours the rave lasted. MARRØN, what are the main steps you take before each edition to ensure the ravers experience this sense of safety when visiting the event?
M: Good question! As freedom and safety are very important to us we always communicate our ‘house rules’ and vision on our social media platforms in the weeks before our event, this is to remind regular EC ravers and to inform those visiting us for the first time that there are simple rules that we follow. The key to cultivating and protecting a great atmosphere is with door-sale only, this is something very uncommon in Amsterdam or The Netherlands in general. We’re taking a big risk doing things this way because we don’t have a financial buffer going into the event but we need to protect our vibe and atmosphere; this is of far more value to us than having money upfront. We have a strict door policy which is very important too, we crave dedicated people with a positive approach to the dance floor. We don’t have a “no photo/video policy” but we do ask our crowd to respect one another in order to feel free. Until now we’ve always had an amazing crowd who respect our vision so it’s not needed to forbid to take photos or videos.
Rene, do you think the sonic aspect of EC contribute to the sense of safety and freedom that the rave provides to its crowd?
RW: EC’s motto is: “If the music is good, you dance.” People come to an EERSTE COMMUNIE party to dance and lose themselves in the music, nothing but real unity and a family that respects and looks out for one another. I feel the style and sound EC represents lends itself more to these types of crowds. In other words, purist music attracts a purist crowd.
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Thank you all for coming! We really enjoyed every minute of your positive and sexy vibes! We feel amazed about yesterday. This is what we dreamed of when we started Eerste Communie: create good vibes, with consistent good music! Even though we had a bit of a slow start and some obstacles during the event, we did not gave up and our crowd never gave up on us. Beautiful dancers, we love you all! For our next event we have something special! We can’t wait to share it with you very soon! Love, Eerste Communie ?
In what ways do you think raves can guide communities towards a future where racism and phobias of any kind are dismantled and entirely forgotten?
RW: EC are very vocal about their strict no racism/phobia rule and I think more promoters and parties should do the same. A rave can be a place that a person from any background can come and celebrate life with music and when nobody feels judged or discriminated against that’s when they can truly lose themselves in the moment. I honestly think this is the ideal formula to create a truly special atmosphere at parties which the EC team fully understand and strive towards.
EC takes place on Sundays, through the day and going into the night. Why was this the time frame you went for?
M: EC takes place on a Sunday because Sunday is a Holy day. Sunday’s are a day that people spend time with their families, go to church or take time for themselves. We want to give our crowd a similar experience, a day where they can express themselves via our music, interact with each other and experience a feeling of belonging to a family whilst on the dancefloor.
As EC has expanded from an intimate dance gathering into a widely popular event (last edition had almost 2000 people interested!), where and how do you see the rave further evolving?
M: Yeah, it has been overwhelming and we still can’t believe how fast it has grown. We’re a team of five and this makes us very strong and able to share the same vision and hold each other accountable when needed. We strongly believe we should keep making steps forward, but small ones; this is the only way we can keep this party underground and simultaneously make it bigger in the right way. Therefore, we’ll keep our concept consistent and choose unique clubs, like Garage Noord, but our ultimate goal would be to have a big warehouse rave with door sale only. I mean, how cool would that be…
On the topic of clubs, we’ve seen venues disrespect their own door policies by inviting DJs with a history of racist or misogynistic behaviour and also promoting a ‘war on drugs’ instead of awareness. Why do you think this is the general direction we’re headed towards? Is there another possible future that you envision?
RW: To be fair, there are more than enough honest and decent artists that belong to our scene to warrant venues about not booking people with a bad reputation or dodgy history. I do think that local governments are to blame for the zero-tolerance policies venues promote on drugs, as some venues have no choice in the matter since their licenses could be under threat by the government if any drug-related issues are reported from the club. I strongly believe we need to educate and regulate, rather than criminalise partygoers for recreational drug use. If the motive is really about saving lives, then zero-tolerance is not the solution.
At last, what are some pieces of advice that you both can offer to those of our readers, who would like to build their own communities or who’d like to start out on a DJ career that helps them unite with like-minded individuals?
M: My biggest advice for anyone who has a dream in this industry is to stop trying to be like someone else and never worry about what others think of you. Creating your own sound is a very hard thing to do and it takes time but what helped me create my own vision is approaching the dancefloor from a visitor’s perspective, find out what you’re missing during the sets you hear when you go out and learn from that. Be inspired by the greats but do your own thing.
RW: Exactly, do this because you love it and because you really live for the music, the culture and the people. When you do something out of love and passion, you naturally gravitate towards like-minded individuals with similar interests and intentions, people that you should be surrounded by. Chat to the people you meet, talk music, go to parties, try to speak to the promoters and tell them how much you like what they’re doing, be social and continuously involved in supporting the scene you love, and it will eventually give back to you.