Innovation ‘In the Dam’ Weekender
10th & 11th February 2006

Innovation have become renowned for their weekender parties, having already hosted weekenders both at home and abroad in Spain. Thus giving ravers the opportunity to make a small holiday whilst raving abroad to drum and bass.

On Valentine’s weekend 2006, Innovation uprooted from London town and headed off to Amsterdam, to host the Innovation “in the Dam’ Weekender. Spread over two nights, the first night was to be held at ‘the Kingdom club’ and the 2nd night onboard ‘the Ocean-Diva cruiser’.

The Innovation package included 2 nights of raving and accommodation for £105 excluding flights and transfers, there was also the option of buying club only tickets aswell. Club only tickets were under £60 for both nights.

Getting out to Amsterdam was quite cheap as we were able to book flights including taxes for £50,not too bad considering how late I had left it before booking. We sorted our own accommodation which was a 3 star hotel with bed and breakfast over 4 nights for £80 with en-suite facilities. This worked out the same money as Innovation package.

Wednesday 8th of February arrived and it was finally time to leave England, for Amsterdam and a weekend of madness!!

We flew from Coventry airport and headed for Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is only an hour away, and the time literally flew past.... 40 minutes later, whilst flying over Amsterdam at night, we flew over the Amsterdam Arena home to Ajax football club and saw what looked like a match being played. I later found out that Ajax was playing Willem II... a truly spectacular view!

Once we we're quickly thru customs at the airport, we boarded a train to Amsterdam central which cost only a few euros. Our hotel was within walking distance from Amsterdam Central train station, located in the Damrak district. Having arrived a few days early in order to give ourselves plenty of time to check out Amsterdam and the various 'different' attractions on offer in this city. From the many canals, to the famous Dam square, 100's of different themed coffee shops to chill out in, and the very obvious 'Red Light' district ,there were many places worth checking out.

The Delta Hotel is situated along one of the main shopping parades, not far from the plush Magna Plaza centre. There was a good selection of brand name clothes shops, some designer labels being a lot cheaper than the UK .Seeing as this was a music holiday, we hunted down a few records shops, hoping to get a feel of how Amsterdam people viewed the drum and bass scene. Amsterdam DnB is underground, as people are more Hip-Hop and Gabba/ hardstyle orientated. Evident in the graffiti and tagging everywhere. The price of the rave was quite expensive for the locals at 30 euros for each night compared to the usual 5euros and parties that finished at 6am.

Back home we purchased club only tickets online before we flew out. Unfortunately our tickets never arrived before we left so we were advised to meet the Innovation rep's at the Bulldog hotel located in the red-light district of Amsterdam. When we arrived at the Bulldog hotel we had been told that the Innovation crew had moved round the corner too the Hunters vodka bar. Once here we were able to sort out passes for both nights.

Friday night and the first night of raving was about to hit Amsterdam!!
The Kingdom Club was quite a fair distance bit from our hotel, around 20-30 mins so we decided to took a taxi there instead which didn’t cost much.
We arrived at the Kingdom venue for just after 10.30 and were greeted by a massive queue. It looked like they were taking there time to search people as the queue was moving quite slowly. The Kingdom venue is one of Amsterdam’s premier venues able to accommodate over 1,500 ravers.

We walked into the venue to be greeted by the sounds of Darren Jay, pumping out the tunes to getting things rolling. The club itself was very spacious with plenty of space to dance, split over 2 floors with a massive balcony over looking the dance floor. Draping the balcony were the old Innovation banners setting the party vibe.

The sound system in the Kingdom Venue was loud but there was some trouble with the mixer during a couple of sets. Darren didn’t have an mc, instead he dropped a tune featuring New breed’s MC Shortson with the ‘Way of the new breed’ lyric along with Congo Natty’s ’Better than dem’, ‘Jam rock’ remix and a remix of the classic tune from Prizna ‘Fire’. No need for an mc..

After Darren Jay it was the turn of the legendary Kenny Ken with MC IC3 on mic duty. IC3 was great on the mic getting the crowd rocking. Kenny Ken played a tremendous set, plenty of new tunes being played along with some classics such as ‘ X-Factor’, ‘Everyday’ a remix of ‘Tribal base’ and Selector’ IC3 was later joined by MC Shabba. During this set I noticed Brockie was getting into the party spirit as he was spotted raving away on the dance floor!

Following from Kenny Ken it was the turn of Undiluted DJ Brockie along side MC’s GQ, Shabba and Skibadee. Brockie started the set with the new ‘System check’ remix and continued to play ‘Warhead’ remix, ’Turbulence’,’ Ready for love’ Everyday’ and Represent’. GQ was tremendous on the mic with his powerful voice rattling the bass bins. Brockie continued to play ‘Fruit X’, ‘Rah’ and ‘Look to the future’.

At this point I decide to have a proper wander around the club. Upstairs, at the back of the club was a balcony that overlooked the whole dance floor and was quite an awesome sight watching everyone rave away. Downstairs on the stage was another bar for the DJs ect .. next to the main dance floor was a smaller chill out room, there was quite a lot of space to chill out in as they had sofas and bean bags. Through here was the 2nd arena which was quite small. I didn’t catch who was playing but the DJ was playing hip hop.

Penultimate set of the night was special guest, Breakbeat Kaos’s, DJ Adam F, Skibadee was on mic duty throughout this set, hyping up the crowd with his lyrics such as ‘Thank you very much for being a raver’ and other crowd singing alongs. Adam F played some great tunes but his mixing was a bit off at times, still, his tune selection was spot on. Dropping tunes such as ‘X-Factor’, ’Warhead’ Original jungle sound’, ’All that jazz’ an old favourite of mine ‘Ska’, ‘Tombraider’, ‘Machomist’ and one of the tunes that made Adam F what he is today the vintage classic ‘Circles’

Final set of the evening was from Nicky Blackmarket, Nicky arrived on the decks with the happiest of smiles on his face. Skibadee was joined by Shabba and Riddla for Nicky’s set. At this point i started to notice the club was beginning empty slowly. Nicky started off with the new Dark soldier remix continued into ‘Dual voltage’, ‘Lions, tigers & bears,’, ‘The one’ and TC’s ‘Warhead’ remix before finishing the night with ‘System check’ remix which tested the bass bins in the Kingdom venue !!

Day 2

Today saw Innovation move from the Kingdom club as instead we boarded the Ocean diva. The Ocean diva was located in the Distelweg district of Amsterdam basically behind Amsterdam central station. From here a ferry would escort us over the river where we were able to board a bus which will take us direct to the cruiser.

During the day we decide to chill out and have a wander around Amsterdam we checked out the infamous sex museum and a few other sites. We also did a bit more shopping and found Midtown records and managed to get hold of some bouncy techno and classic Belgian techno from 91-92, bonus !!! What I didn’t expect was there to be a mass demonstration from the Muslim community protesting at cartoon images being published in Amsterdam Square this was a little unnerving.
We didn’t let that 'dam'pen our day and in the afternoon headed back to the hotel for some rest and grub. We left the hotel around just before 10pm and headed to Amsterdam Central and made our way to the Ocean diva cruiser. As promised there was a regular ferry and we were greeted by a coach that took us to the vessel, which didn’t take too long especially in the amsterdam weather, which was very cold.

The Ocean diva cruiser was docked. Illuminating the night with its bright lights spread across the exterior of the vessel. It looked an excellent venue. The size of this vessel is massive, nearly 300 foot in length, and able to host up to 1,500 people. The boat was anchored on the dock, from outside you could hear MC Det's dulcit tones vibrating over the sound system. There was a small tent where the Innovation security team were located, queuing at this time didn’t take too long and they also allowed you take in 5g of weed. but no pre-rolled joints onto the boat. Regardless we all received a very thorough search, and we were allowed to board the cruiser. Due to set sail sometime after midnight.

We headed through the large glass doors and made our way to the dance floor, the boat had 2 floors, one as a balcony that overlooked the dance floor. It was quite dark in here but very spacious. DJ Baron and MC Det where on setting the mood and vibe for the night, the sound system was loud on the boat. There was a small stage for the MC’s to MC upon with massive speaker stack located either side of the DJ box.

Baron and Det where getting things hyped in here and the dance floor got busy quite quickly, Baron played ‘ X-Ray’, ‘Mysterons’ and ‘The vault’.

After Baron it was the turn of the infamous Bryan Gee, one of the sets I was looking forward to most on this weekender, as you can put money on Bryan to play a few of the latest dubplates. Bryan Gee had MC Bassman on the mic for him. Bryan played a range of tunes from the jump up and rolling style to those with a liquid vibe, basically playing tunes from across the drum and bass spectrum. Bryan dropped ‘Warhead’ Lil Kim’s ’Lighters up’ drum and bass remix, ‘Warhead’ remix he also played my favourite tune of the moment featuring MC Jakes ‘Deep’ as well as a remix of two classic tunes from the legendry V ‘It’s a Jazz thing’ and ‘All crews’.

Next up was Innovations very own Mickey Finn alongside Bassman, a classic DJ and MC combination that has been tried and tested through the years. Bassman was superb during this set as the stage for the MC’s was very small and intimate dropping his dirty dark lyrics. Mickey started the set with the new ‘Lighter’ remix and carried on playing ‘ The one’,’ Feelings’ and DJ Hazards ’You must think first’. Half way through the set saw the arrival of MC Eksman with his partner in rhyme, MC Herbsman, just in time before the boat set sail.

Following on from Mickey Finn was DJ Fresh with MC’s Eksman and Herbsman this was the point when the Ocean diva set sail, and although the boat was moving it didn’t feel like it. I enjoyed DJ Fresh’s set, he played plenty of upfront tunes setting the party alight as he played ‘ Tarantula’,’ Everyday’, ‘X-Factor’,’ Dubplate Killah’. Eksman and Herbsman were wicked on the mic,hyping up the party with Eksman getting the crowd involved with his lyrics as plenty of ravers were reciting them back to him. Fresh finished the set with ’Machomist’,’ The Vault’,’ Trust me’, ’The Vault’ ‘System Check’ and’ All that jazz’.

Taking the DJ spot after DJ Fresh was Kenny Ken. With Kenny K playing two sets over the weekend it looked like there was be some no shows and he was filling in.? Would have been nice for Kenny Ken to play Classic jungle set to break up the weekend, but he was playing upfront like the previous night at the Kingdom Venue, at this point I decided to have a proper wander and explore the vessel.

The boat’s interior was huge, along the top deck it was wall to wall glass panels so you could see the view outside if you didn’t want to get cold on a very frosty night. But with it warming up a little on the dance floor I thought I’d cool down with the sea air flowing in this direction. There was quite a bit of a contrast looking outside seeing the city’s bright lights and calmness to turn around and see the craziness happening on the dance floor.

Inside the boat were numerous bars. The Ocean Diva were implemented a token system. For 10 euros you got 4 tokens, most of the drinks were 2/3 tokens each, which worked out at 5 euros for each drink which was £3.60 per drink back home.

Back to the dance floor and Kenny Ken was finish up with Bassman, Eksman and Herbsman MCing all together passing the mic around, the MCing was off the hook! Kenny finished up with ‘Girl’, ‘Terrorist’ and a remix of ‘Fire’

Final set of the night came from Formations very own DJ SS alongside MC Warren G, an MC who I’ve not seen for many years. Another set that I was quite impressed with. SS started the set in true SS fashion with a remix of ‘Lighter’ and continued to play ‘X-Ray’, ’Tarantula’. SS decided to play a few tunes I’ve not heard in quite sometime. He dropped ‘Basement track’, ‘Creeper’ and ‘Body rock’. SS also dropped quite an interesting track which had a breakdown halfway through which sounded like a house / hardcore track which saw quite a number of people raising their hands in the like the old days!

With the time fast approaching 5.00 am we decide to leave the boat as the last bus to the ferry was to depart at 5.30 and we didn’t fancy getting crushed in the rush at the end, also our flight home was at lunchtime.

Overall I did enjoy the weekender for the experience as this was the first time that I’d been out to Amsterdam. The atmosphere on both nights was brilliant making it a trouble free event. I really enjoyed the Kingdom venue club,a really nice club, laid out well and the lighting and production were spot on. Raving on the boat was definitely different, but the production wasn’t as good as the club, the sound system was brilliant but the lightning did let the boat down as I felt they did over use the smoke machine at times.

What I found quite annoying were serving drinks in glasses leading too much glass on the dance floors which wasn’t cleared up on both nights.

It was quite disappointed to experience the number of no-show at this weekender. I expected maybe one or two no-shows but there were about 5 big names that didn’t show. DJ’s who where playing, had to end up doing 90minutes or 2 hours sets on each night to make up for those who hadn’t shown up. I was looking forward to seeing the likes of Grooverider, Andy C, Swift, Hype and MC Fearless. What a shame.

Even with the no-shows it was still a good weekender. As I mentioned already the atmosphere and the vibe from the ravers was brilliant, as you could have the best DJ’s and MC’s in the land, but if you don’t have the friendly vibe that was experienced on this holiday then you don’t really have a memorable experience .There majority were English ravers though I noticed ravers from Manheim in Germany where there too and a few others I met from surrounding countries.

I thought on the first night people might of over done it on the old weed, as people weren’t dancing as much and drifted off earlier, though they must have learnt from the Friday night, as on the Saturday people weren’t smoking as much and where definitely livelier and dancing more, maybe that was the mushrooms ?

I wouldn’t want to have a long holiday in Amsterdam. Had Innovation not been there I would of got bored and if your not into your hard drugs and seedy sex there is not much else on offer for an extended holiday. It was great to have a break away from the norm and go raving abroad rather than waiting for the summer to arrive and Innovation in the sun.

Big respects go out to Lloyd, Mickey Finn, Gav and the Innovation team, Eksman, Bassman, Herbsman, Det, Bryan Gee, Nicky Blackmarket, Darren Jay, Kenny Ken, GQ, IC3, Brockie,

Massive shouts to Shaun, Satin, Zoë and Collette, Blaze, Amy, Jessie and Maddi, Markit, Brian BK and Sean, Alpha, Mistress Mo also to everyone else whose names I don't' know but faces I recognise.

Written by Xtra-C Flashbackin' & Rewindin'
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