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Different times?

I was born in 1964 in Amsterdam. My mum and dad were living in an attic my grandpa built for them in the ‘Old-West’ – back then an area for laborers. Finding a home was hard for my parents, almost impossible. But they waited and waited and got a house in the ‘De Pijp’ area – nowadays a fully gentrified area. Back then, it was hard for my mum to integrate into the neighborhood. When Dad went to work, she would immediately put me in a stroller and go back to Grandma. Old West was her hood.

Luckily, my parents could swap houses with an elderly couple in Osdorp – an outskirt of Amsterdam. Homogenous building blocks surrounded by green pastures, sports facilities, schools, and shopping areas. Many families from downtown Amsterdam went there to live a life with more comfort. And so did we – the view of our apartment can be seen in the image above. I did have a comfortable childhood there – I had friends, always played outside, elementary school was next to our apartment building and I biked to high school.

No future

The end of the Seventies and especially the Eighties were part of the era of my coming of age. Cold war, no future, no housing, and hardly any jobs available. Amsterdam was a poor city overflown with social problems, not a rich city only for the rich it is now.

Squatters took over whole neighborhoods and thanks to them, saved so many streets and areas from the relentless efforts of local politicians in their ego-based City planning. Central Amsterdam had to become a business district – big highways and lots of buildings for entrepreneurs. We owe so much to the artists, anarchists of that time. Give the Boomers a break.

l'Histoire se répète

Nowadays, I am a dad of three lovely grown-up daughters. And even a grandpa – also a girl. We talk a lot together about life – perspectives like housing, building a career, and a future. I see many life issues as recurring topics. The movie I stumbled across during my research on recent Amsterdam history, shows many aspects of modern-day life being not that different from 5 or 6 decades ago.

Comforting? Or really disturbing?

RoXY (2022) is a collage film by Juha van ’t Zelfde that shows how the revolutionary actions of Dada, Cobra, and Provo influenced club RoXY. After its opening in 1987, the club is widely celebrated for introducing house music to the Netherlands and creating a home for numerous creative communities. In 1999 it burnt down after the funeral of its founder Peter Giele.

The film links Johan Huizinga’s 1938 book Homo Ludens (“playing man”) to postwar movements of art, protest and civil disobedience. It shows rare documentary footage of radical cultural moments such as Dylaby, New Babylon, and Love Ball, and features early electronic dance music from Virgo, Future Sound of London, and The KLF.

Want to talk about your future perspectives with Paul?