In the first of our ‘My City’ series looking at how nightlife has changed during the pandemic in cities around the world, Woov founder and managing director Sebastien Westerduin shares his experiences on nightlife in his home city of Amsterdam.

Woov is an M-Venture portfolio company that enables people to experience Live Music together – wherever they are in the world. It emulates the social and interactive dynamics of the dance-floor and connects the live music community more meaningfully with the like-minded and their favourite artists and festival brands. Leveraging their global network of over 650 festival organisers and a rich roster of artists and labels, Woov seeks to redefine and reimagine the way people “go out” and get together.

Amsterdam is a melting-pot of people with different backgrounds and horizons, and the nightlife has always played an important role in facilitating its various vibrant sub-cultures in coming together. It is also perhaps the festival capital of the world, hosting over 200 per year, which has allowed for a unique combination and evolution of indoor and outdoor music scenes.

Before COVID-19, there was such an incredible range of things to do as part of the city’s nightlife. My personal favourite would probably to go to one of the city clubs like Shelter, De School, DeMarktkantine, and Warehouse Elementenstraat, which would have strong weekly line-ups and good vibes.

For anyone visiting though, I tend to recommend they go for the full, fun Amsterdam experience: visit a festival by day and continue with one of the many afterparties at great locations like The Loft. This overlooks the city from the 17th floor of the Adam Tower, and is a beautiful place to watch the sunrise as you end the long night.

Of course, COVD regulations have made it quite difficult to experience the night culture of the city as it was and has led to a dark period for our industry.

However, people are adapting and coming up with new ways to experience a night out in Amsterdam. When it has been safe to do so, we have seen a large increase in house and boat parties with friends, plus, there are more opportunities to enjoy a quieter night with the streets so empty. This makes a walk along the canals an essential experience.

I’ve also had fun with a wide-range of virtual events ranging from countless Zoom parties (which were sometimes hilariously bad), to the innovative “Club Quarantine” and last but not least, Travis Scott’s performance within the Fortnite world.

More than 12 million people tuned into that and for many young people, that will have been their first festival experience. Crazy huh? But for me seeing that video games and live music are coming together is something I’m personally very passionate about. At Woov, we ourselves have had to adapt, moving from offline to digital live music events, and so I know first-hand how difficult it is to emulate ‘going out digitally’.

What the most successful virtual nights out have done is not to try and recreate the old experience, but to create new ones. We don’t expect our industry to transition to a new normal, but rather a new strange. Digital will have a huge impact on the viability and the experience that we’ve come to love. That means that bridging the offline and the online world is an absolute necessity and we can’t wait to show everyone what that looks like in the upcoming year – both on the physical and virtual dancefloor.

We’re preparing our platform to support organisers and promoters as they re-enter the market space to engage with a broader global, yet more socially isolated audience, and will be working closely with the network to help them build their businesses and audiences back.

This is a moment for new and exciting digital ways to experience a night to emerge, but of course we want this to be combined with a return to the best nights out. I miss the spontaneous flow of a night that you can’t really experience right now: having the freedom to just go to one of your favourite locations and seeing what the night will bring, getting carried away by your favourite beats and vibing to some good bass.

Most importantly though, it’s the meeting of new people that I miss the most. Music connects us and has helped me shape some of my strongest bonds and closest friendships, which is also one of the reasons why we would regularly seek a day or night out with our team at Woov.

I can’t wait to see more people return to Amsterdam and experience our amazing city, and also get the opportunity myself to experience the nightlife more cities around the world. I’d love to visit Berlin and experience the underground clubbing scene again.

Why? Because I absolutely love techno.

When? I hope we can answer that soon enough.