A "Sensation" of a Party in Amsterdam (and It's Brooklyn-bound)

Rebecca Smeyne

You're probably already familiar with the idea of a "white party" -- the concept is simple enough -- everyone wears white, and ideally, the decor is also white. Sensation, a brand of house music parties founded 12 years ago in Amsterdam by Duncan Stutterheim and his partners at entertainment company ID&T (he's the "D"), has taken this concept to a whole new level. In 2006, ID&T started throwing iterations of their massive Dutch dance party all over Europe, spreading eventually to over 20 countries in five continents, with a typical attendance of 20-40,000 people (tickets typically sell-out within hours).

The most recent continent to be added to the list is North America, and the destination is New York City, at the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn (a Hova pop-in perhaps?), on October 26th and 27th. The 27th is already sold out (at 22,000 capacity per night), but reportedly there are about 3,000 tickets left for Friday, and the lineup hasn't even been announced yet. This past weekend, we were invited to Amsterdam to check out the most recent edition, Sensation: Source of Light, held Saturday night for 40,000 people at the Amsterdam ArenA, the same venue where it originated. The lineup included Mr. White (an obvious choice for the theme), Brooklyn's The man with no shadow, Riva Starr, Hardwell, Dennis Ferrer, and Mark Knight. To put things in perspective, Madonna was in town the same night, but playing at a smaller venue. 

For a while ID&T was also producing a Sensation Black, which was hard trance-oriented, but in recent years they've discontinued it -- Stutterheim says because they're "too negative." An Amsterdam native residing on the Upper East Side in New York with his wife Lisca and their two children (he still spends time at his stunning canal-front Amsterdam mansion occasionally), Stutterheim is a very PMA kind of guy -- in his home's courtyard Saturday, we encountered a large group of eager volunteers from Sensation's anti-HIV nonprofit organization, Dance4life. 

One could correlate the party's success with the increasing popularity of electronic music in recent years, with house icons like David Guetta and Tiesto (both Sensation alums) now headlining rock festivals, but that would discredit Stutterheim, ID&T and Sensations' organic, steady growth. Before launching Sensation in 2000 and ID&T in the early 90s, Stutterheim came up through the Amsterdam rave scene, organizing events with his friends and promoting them through flyers and by reputation. Sensation's popularity is also no doubt due to the insane degree of spectacle -- imagine a mash-up between Cirque de Soleil and a megaclub and you get the idea. Aerial performers, fire, lasers, confetti, balloons, a rotating center stage and a billion LED lights are all parts of the equation. Another nice thing is that they don't over-sell, leaving enough room to wander around and vary the experience from different viewpoints, seats, lounges and dance areas. And since it lasts nine hours, you'll probably want to. Check out scenes from the party, as well as Stutterheim at home, below.

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