Well, first of all because of the simple fact that it’s been around for 28 years! I started it in 1992 when I was 21. The first year was mostly big fun and getting drunk with my friends (but doing serious business naturally) and we played all kinds of music. It wasn’t until a year later my old love for hip hop (listening to Stetsasonic and Public Enemy at 13 years old) surfaced and we started playing hip hop. And without knowing or having a masterplan, the fact that there was a bar playing hip hop, funk and soul set a wheel in motion that started spinning faster and faster. Apparently this was something people were missing in Amsterdam and the place exploded!
Plus the fact that music knows no colour, which made de Duivel a place where everybody felt welcome. People from all sorts of backgrounds mingled all with the love for hip hop and so a special place was born. And from that we organized many big hip hop and drum ‘n bass parties throughout Amsterdam. From the Melkweg to Aknathon to illegal warehouses, the famous Hell’s Kitchen and Queensbridge parties on Queensday. A tour we did in all the larger cities with Dutch hip hop artists and so many more. And after all these years the vibe of de Duivel is still the same. Of course the old-timers would say it used to be better, but for the generation now it has that same importance. De Duivel has always been special to many people; so many connections have been made, music and art projects set up, relationships started, babies been made and so on.
For people that have never been to de Duivel, what would a perfect Duivel night look /feel like?
I can’t speak for other people but for me a perfect night would be when the place is nice and full but not to full, when a DJ like Edzon or Turne is ripping up the turntables, people are dancing and laughing and respectful to one and other and me standing at the corner of the bar drinking my cold beer…Can you tell us how the current COVID-19 situation has affected your business?
Pretty seriously to be honest. De Duivel had to close March 16th as well as a catering restaurant that I have, so all income dried up instantly. I will be re-opening the 12th of June but with the new regulations where people have to keep a meter and a half distance from each other I’m afraid the financial pain will be extended for many months to come.
Throughout the years there have been a few setbacks, temporary closures etc. Where does your tenacity come from? How come you never just gave up?
Twice in the 28 years de Duivel exists the place was closed for three months by the police, due to a violent incident and I had to fight in court to re-open it. These have been very difficult times, fighting against a government that really has no idea of what de Duivel stands for, how it has been an example of how people of all backgrounds can interact with each other. They would blame it on the type of music we play, that we should change the name, all kinds of bullshit which only made me more determined to fight the establishment and their bias. I have always said that there is only one person that can decide if de Duivel will end and that person is me. Not a head of police or a mayor. And the support of all the customers, artists, clubs and bars was overwhelming. Benefits were organised, famous artists would come to paint the wooden panels which were used to close the bar. Songs were written, music videos were made, hundreds of letters were written to the mayor, all in support of de Duivel. All of this, combined with my stubbornness just made me fight back harder every time the government would try to close us down.Team Patta and de Duivel have a special connection, can you speak on that a little?
Well, I guess it all started when this shy young guy whom I immediately grow attached to frequently visit de Duivel back in the 90s. When he asked if he could spin some records to practice his DJ-ing skills I of course agreed to this. He turned out to be a very talented DJ and he came to play at all the parties I organised. His name was Edzon. His brother Tim became a regular, his brother from another mother Gee became a regular, Edzon’s wife Nica became a regular and so on. So long before Patta was founded we were already like a family and created a really special vibe at de Duivel and the parties we did together. And because of that we have done many projects together with de Duivel and Patta and will do so in the future. Solid friends for life!
The Patta x De Duivel T-shirt will be available online and in-store at Patta Amsterdam starting Saturday, June 6th at 13:00 CEST.