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Amsterdance – The Amsterdam Electronic Dance Music Research Group

Coordinators: Dr Oliver Seibt and Ian Pocervina

The “Amsterdam Electronic Dance Music Research Group” is interested in a variety of topics that fall under the umbrella term of electronic dance music culture. Amsterdance departs from the field of popular music studies, from which it sets out an exploration of the spatial and social resonances that are generated by the sounds of electronic dance music. Based in Amsterdam, the group also traces the music’s global footprints in an effort to put both local and translocal occurrences in conversation with each another.


Dr Oliver Seibt and Ian Pocervina

Members of the Research Group

Universiteit van Amsterdam: Olle Beenhakker, Phoebe Janssen, Sydney Schelvis, and Jacob Tucker.

Research Interests

Over the last half-century, electronic dance music has become one of the central sonic forces in the field of popular music and set in motion the development of a number of cultural formations. Though at first glance intrinsically simplistic, the physical impact of its repetitive rhythms instigates a profound synchrony on the dance floor. Perhaps due to historic stigmatisation and associations with hedonism, the sounds and cultures of electronic dance music remain relatively side-lined in academic research. The Amsterdance research group explores the social significance and academic potential of contemporary electronic dance musics in a variety of settings and contexts. In terms of methodology, Amsterdance is thereby inspired by the logic of electronic dance musicking itself: sampling, mixing, and remixing materials.

Envisaged Results

The central ambition behind Amsterdance is to provide a home to UvA researchers interested in electronic dance musics and their cultures, and to connect them to related research networks. Amsterdance hopes to benefit from the insights of guest speakers and welcomes any external contributors to join the meetings and complement the discussions.

Work Plan and Time Schedule

The research group meets on a monthly basis to jointly read relevant publications, to discuss the research progress of its individual members, and to support their undertakings with constructive feedback. Amsterdance was launched in February 2021 and will run for a period of five years.

This research group is active in the following constellations:

Overview Activities

29 September 2021: Spectacular Noise: The Case of Gabber

Presentation [online] by Professor Hillegonda C Rietveld, PhD, London South Bank University, UK

The presentation will address sonic and visual dominant sensory modes on the dancefloor, with reference to gabber, an abrasive form of electronic dance music with tempos of over 170 bpm, as case study. During the 1990s, gabber developed as a sonic overdrive aesthetic, initially connected to living with Rotterdam Europoort. Centred on a carnivalesque engagement with noise, gabber functioned as the soundtrack to a sonic culture that turned the pain and rage of horror, noise, and acceleration into pleasure.  Within a few years, the musical form and the early characteristic dress style of its dancers morphed into a spectacular form of popular culture in the Netherlands, with some Dutch pop songs and advertisements drawing on gabber caricatures. Dance parties started to fill up sports halls and festival fields, placing the DJ on a high stage, surrounded by dance performers and spectacular stage sets. Due to the genealogy of the sound of gabber, however, the sound of gabber was internationally appropriated by a different, more experimental, crowd. Such varied and, at times, contradictory understandings of gabber illustrate an ongoing dynamic between embodied sonic culture on the one hand, and visually dominated cultural forms on the other hand. 

Hillegonda C Rietveld is Professor of Sonic Culture at London South Bank University (UK) and was Chief Editor of IASPM Journal between 2011 and 2017. She has published extensively on electronic dance music and DJ cultures, including a co-edited special issue for Dancecult: Journal of Electronic Dance Music Culture and the co-edited collection DJ Culture in the Mix: Power, Technology, and Social Change in Electronic Dance Music.