To see Armin van Buuren, the number 1 DJ in the world, in his home country of the Netherlands, on the last and most massive date of his A State of Trance 600 tour, would be a dream come true for any trance fan. However, for anyone not in an easy proximity to the Netherlands, it is a very expensive and nearly impossible endeavor. But these are the types of opportunities that present themselves when you’re studying abroad in central Europe. Once Armin announced the dates for the ASOT 600 tour way back in October, and knowing that I would be studying in Prague in the spring, it was not even a question of whether or not I was going. I bought my ticket almost immediately. Back then I really don’t think I knew how hugely insane the show in Den Bosch was going to be, that it would have four stages stacked with some of the biggest names in trance music, that it would bring together 30,000 people for one long night of ten hours of straight dancing. But I made the rash decision to book the ticket and figure the rest out later, and that one movement set into motion plans for the biggest, most epic trip of my study abroad.
Before making the trek to Den Bosch, I spent a couple days in Amsterdam doing the typical tourist activities with some of my friends. I also ended up meeting a lot people in my hostel who were going to ASOT on Saturday as well. This was only the beginning of me seeing just how insanely massive this event is. After doing the whole tourist in Amsterdam thing for a while, my friends and I went to the train station to find our way to Den Bosch.
This trip was really not without its fair share of mishaps, and one of the biggest had to do with travel between Amsterdam and Den Bosch. The weekend of ASOT, the Den Bosch train station was undergoing construction and there were NO TRAINS between Amsterdam and Den Bosch. So we ended up having to take a train to another smaller town in the Netherlands, and then a bus from there to Den Bosch. This was all set up by public transportation, and was really intended specifically for people going to ASOT (again, this event was HUGE, and the whole country knew what was up). It was kind of a mess, but we figured it out and got to little Den Bosch without too much trouble. Once we arrived, almost everyone we saw was going to ASOT. This town came alive for Armin, and its population grew by 30% for 24 hours all for him. Unfortunately didn’t have a room booked, as we were intending to leave Den Bosch to go back to Amsterdam after the event ended at 7am. So we ended up walking around Den Bosch for a while before the event. But finally, it became time to wait in line.
Not wanting to miss all of Omnia, who played at 9, we got to the venue early, where there were already thousands of people lined up. Fortunately the line moved super quickly for an event this huge, and we got in within a half hour. After taking care of lockers and bathroom trips, we walked into the main stage room. All of the excitement that had been building in me for six months, the stress of getting to this place, was culminating in this hugely beautiful moment. The main stage area was enormous, the biggest indoor event I’ve ever been to, and the stage set up was by far the best I’d ever seen (and these were my thoughts only at the very beginning of the night). It felt amazing to be part of something so huge, in the place where trance music really began and where it was most loved. The first moment of walking in was by far the best.
I ended up staying at the main stage for most of the night. Most of the people I wanted to see were performing there, and the setup was just too awesome for any of the other stages to even compare in my mind. The early sets were fun, a great mix of awesome trance with some of the bigger tracks that are being dropped these days, like Andrew Rayel’s remix of Zedd’s “Clarity” and some of the new remixes of Ferry Corsten’s classic “Rock Your Body Rock.” But once Armin came on, the production truly became next level. The visual elements of the show, especially the lights and lasers, were absolutely unreal.
It was also just so amazing to see Armin play the set that the whole tour had culminated with, that everyone had come to see. It was so huge that security had to shut off entry to the main stage it had become so packed (they did the same when he played the Who’s Afraid of 138?! stage). And the set was amazing as well. Orjan Nilsen was another favorite for me, because he is who truly revived me when I started to get worn out from dancing. He dropped some awesome tracks too, like his own “Amsterdam,” and one of my new favorites these days, “Ten” by Sander Van Doorn & Mark Knight vs Underworld. I also spent some time at the Turn The World Into a Dance Floor stage, which was a great place to hear some awesome, more upbeat and dance-able trance when you were bummed about not being able to get into the over-capacity Main or 138 stages. I stayed til the end of the night, long enough to see Shogun play Above & Beyond’s club mix of “Good for Me,” a personally meaningful favorite of mine, and a beautiful way to end the night.
ASOT was amazing not just for the music, and the insane visuals, and the huge venue. It was most amazing to be part of something so insanely huge, where everyone was brought together by one DJ they loved so much. I was in a room with 30,000 other people from all around the world, of all ages (I really mean this—there were people there that were my parents and grandparents ages, going just as hard if not harder than me), sizes, ethnicities, abilities…ASOT was proof that music transcends all boundaries, and was also an illustration that EDM (or at least trance) in Europe is not the young, niche culture that it is in the United States. In Europe, and especially in the Netherlands, people just genuinely LOVE this music, and that is one of the biggest reasons I was so thankful to be a part of this unforgettable event.
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