Extrema, now in its 15th year, is established as one of the pinnacle dance events in the Dutch calendar and many travel from international locations to experience its awe. Located in Best, near Eindhoven, Purple Tents rise beside the lake rise like shrines to the music scene, with 35,000 worshippers to boot.
Over 40 artists performing across 9 stages, covering beats from R&B, dance, trance, hip-hop and old 50 remixes amongst many, it excels at living up to its name. It’s nothing simple, its intense. From 11am this sensory overload begins. And doesn’t stop to breathe.
From an organisational perspective Extrema is truly Southern-Dutch. It’s just amazingly friendly and down-to-earth but at no point does it sacrifice professionalism or style. All areas had immediate access to amenities, credit purchasing, food & drink amongst gifts, t-shirts and of course sun block! Yes you heard it –in the land where it rains almost 200 days in a year, this one didn’t – well actually it stopped when we (as Dance.NL) arrived.
From 11am the crowd had already amassed and the positive-vibe was building with each hour; and of course being the anniversary of Extrema this was sure to be a party to remember.
For some, like myself, that have listened to this genre of music now since the early 1990’s Extrema-Outdoor represents Nirvana; A single event bringing together the likes of Sven Väth, Dubfire, Benny Rodrigues amongst many, many others with new artists such as Markus Fix, Leon and David K.
What words cannot describe, simply is put into two words. Complete speechlessness. Talking to Dubfire, my only thought, other than the questions I knew were standard, was that “I Have All Your CD’s!”. Likewise, taking to Danny Howells, John Digweed aswell as Steve Lawler shared similar fates.
Getting to spend a few chance moments with each, we managed to gain insight as to how busy each one is at this time of year – From Ibiza to DC10, to Texas, San Paolo, New York and Miami, what is amazing is that given the list of venues, places, cities, countries that each one visits, obviously Holland, being such a small country, manages to produce an audience unlike any other.
Dubfire, after finishing his set, at 6pm was then on his way to fly to St. Petersburg, Russia, for an event later that evening, then in the morning returning to Cocoon, Bloemendaal the following day.
Danny Howells had just returned from a punishing list of locations, to his home in London only 3 days earlier after 4 months away, then to play at Extrema.
Sven Väth, after 16 years on the scene still managed to work a gruelling but energized 3 hour session. The vibe apparent in the audience, that simply fed the passion for more. He appeared relaxed, and simply in love with what he does best.
John Digweed was his usual laid back self, wanting to get onto the stage and start spinning his tunes. Having been playing for 12 years he didn’t look any worse for ware as a result of the intense lifestyle playing to audiences worldwide.
We sat for 20 minutes or so with David K, Leon, Darious S and Hermanez living a moment of Dutch life out backstage. Laughing having fun and relaxed after playing for a total of 4 hours earlier in the day.
As for live performances, Extrema put on a host of other shows, incorporating dance and magical dragons walking on the platform between one side of the lake and the other; dancers twisting and turning in mid air; ultimately arriving at the firework extravaganza to signal the end to another successful year.
The closing performances to each venue were simply awe-inspiring. From John Digweed; Tobi Neumann, Riccardo & G-Lontra, Steve Lawler, Don Diablo and Josh Wink to name just a few, each stage, each audience member witnessed the best at what these guys do; they gave no quarter and no body was spared. You simply had no choice but to surrender to the beat.
In closing, the long sobering walk brought us all back down to earth from our overdose of adrenalin, as we made our way back to where-ever it was we came from. Transport was well catered for from the venue to Eindhoven and surrounding areas with taxis and shuttle-bus services to the parking areas and nearby hotels.
In reflection, given the stages, nothing else distracted you from what mattered. It was just about music and nothing else mattered. We were there to Dance. And 35,000 people did just that.
Extrema lived up to its name.
Txt: Sam Colak & Lucienne Suykerbuyk
Imgs: Sam Colak
More images: www.fotographer.nl