You Can Now Party in a Prison in Amsterdam

Former prison of Bijlmerbajes, Amsterdam
Former prison of Bijlmerbajes, Amsterdam | © Stas Knop / Shutterstock
Tom Coggins

For one weekend only, a former prison in Amsterdam – known as Bijlmerbajes – will host three consecutive club nights, featuring the likes of Nina Kraviz and Seth Troxler.

Organised by local event planners Audio Obscura, the parties in Bijlmerbajes prison will take place from Thursday, 18 October to Saturday, 20 October, during Amsterdam Dance Event. This annual, citywide EDM festival involves hundreds of club nights, conference talks and pop-up shows. Though this is the first time they’ve ventured into a prison, Audio Obscura is well-known for its creative venue choices and has staged parties in several other unique locations around Amsterdam, including the Rijkmuseum’s bicycle tunnel.

Bijlmerbajes prison

For the events in question, Audio Obscura will convert a 250-metre-long corridor inside Amsterdam’s Bijlmerbajes prison into an improvised club. The prison in question stands close to Amstel railway station, in the south of the city, and resembles a series of tower blocks, albeit with barred windows. This imposing venue closed down due to nationwide inmates shortages, attributed to the Netherlands’ low crime rates and progressive justice system. Audio Obscura is keeping things relatively hush-hush for the time being, but has revealed its line-up, announcing that Seth Troxler, Electric Deluxe and Nina Kraviz will be headliners.

The prison from the air

Over the past few years, many other prisons in the Netherlands have shut down for good, as there simply aren’t enough inmates to occupy their cells. Nowadays, Dutch courts tend to avoid sentencing people to hard time unless they have committed serious crimes and prefer to employ measures like fines or ankle tags as punishments. The Netherlands also has notoriously low crime rates, which have continued to decrease for decades. Due to these factors (and many others) Dutch prisons are currently closing at an unprecedented rate.

Former prison of Bijlmerbajes, Amsterdam

Rather than letting these functional buildings fall into disrepair, the Dutch government has leased a number of prisons to cultural initiatives. For instance, Bijlmerbajes housed a creative hub called Lola Lik until relatively recently, with space for co-working, dining and socialising. Though this project ended in 2017, Bijlmerbajes was purchased by a housing corporation soon after, which intends to turn most of the complex into residential buildings. At the moment, the prison also serves as an events venue and will host its first ever club nights this October.

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