When was the last time you felt a sense of wonder when attending an event? Can you recall participating in something exciting and interactive that propelled you out of your comfort zone and into an almost mystical journey?
Let me introduce to you, Alter Ego. Alter Ego is a collective in Amsterdam that is responsible for peculiar events such as Shoeless, Confetteria, & Alter Ego Night. Shoeless, being what its name entails, is a festival that requires you to take your shoes off before entering. Confetteria is Alter Ego’s extravagant way of celebrating their intense love for confetti. Organization and guests dolled up in roaring 20’s outfits. Rumor has it that they will be bringing this event to a boat on New York City’s Hudson in 2016... Alter Ego Night is an event where upon entrance, the Alter Ego team provides you with a theatre costume in which you are to don for the entire night. The unique way that Alter Ego goes about producing shows is what makes them unforgettable and remarkable.
Bas Engels, the initiator of the Alter Ego Family, tells the story of how Alter Ego and Shoeless came about. He, himself, entered the music scene as a fan and attended raves with friends before eventually throwing their very own illegal parties. Shoeless started because of a joke made between friends that if they were to create an event, everyone would have to take off their shoes. The very first Shoeless did not have tickets sold, they just sent invites out to their friends. The line-up consisted of DJs that had never played outside their living room. It was such a success that the second time around they had a huge line out the door.
"When you take off your shoes you act like you are inside someone's home. You act more friendly towards strangers. The way you treat nature and don't tread on the ground. People don't fight without shoes, people respect each other. Even though it started as a joke, we noticed all these different impacts over time."
As years went on, Shoeless' popularity rose and was fast becoming a staple in the Amsterdam music scene. Everyone working on the event became less of a collective and more of a family, so they decided to create a name above Shoeless. Thus was the birth of Alter Ego, four years after the first Shoeless event.
Alter Ego paved the way for Alter Ego Night. The event was started as a birthday celebration for Bas, himself. He wanted to do something small and unique, similar to Shoeless. He came up with the idea to give everyone in the room theatre costumes. A new "Alter Ego" to don for the entire night and really immerse oneself in. The first edition had about 200 people attending and after its huge success, Bas was bombarded with emails and calls about having it again.
"What made us different, was that we didn't have a formal plan, we did everything that we truly loved and believed in. Nothing was ever fueled by money, most of these events started out as 'side projects'. That's just what we called them."
Alter Ego's uniqueness, vibe and even particular selection of artists got them a stage at Bethelwood's Mysterland in 2014 in the US. The stage itself was particularly memorable because it was created in a circular design with one main point of entrance. The theme was the Mexican day of the dead candy skulls and the stage was called, Sin Salida, which translates to "No Exit". They had a unique line-up with names as Michel de Hey, Genii, Olivier Weiter and Forest of Heroes. An amazing Alter Ego combination of big names, playing a secret set after their gig on the MainStage on the stage they liked best, and unique undiscovered talents from the Alter Ego Family.
Once 2015 came around, Alter Ego were once more invited to host a stage at Mysteryland and this year's theme was Japanese Geishas. The stage was called Owari No Nai, also Japanese for "No Exit". This year's line-up was consistent of Forest of Heroes, DJ Isis, Oliver Weiter, and Holger Hecler. We are really hoping Alter Ego will be bringing their new 2016 No Exit edition to the US again. Their unique stage concept moves past the culture themes into something new. The next Mysteryland in the US will host the stage, Kojade, the Yorubian phrase for, "No Exit"... Getting excited?
"We were asked to host a stage at Mysteryland and we wanted to create something small where people come in and then don't want to leave. We decided on something round, so you come in and you are stuck in there because you like it so much, the music is great and you didn't expect it to. "
Alter Ego doesn't stop here. Two years ago, they started their own podcast on Soundcloud; Alter Ego Podcast. Since then they have released 20 of the most lively and uniquely made sets by craft-fully selected artists. Some of my favourites are Genii, Mees Dierdorp (we know how much I love him!), Satori, and Olaf Stuut, to name a few. No set is anything like its predecessor.
And just when you think they would be content, in 2016 Alter Ego will be rolling out their, very own unique agency in called Alter Ego Family. Over the years, many hugely talented artists were discovered by Alter Ego and played their first gigs on Shoeless, for example, an amazing live electronic jam called Dialoque. These guys are the next big thing in Europe at the moment. The agency will not just be musical bookings, but they will have their own selection of variety acts that can range from light and installation art, performances and an exhilarating high-end bondage performance collective...The Alter Ego Family motto; "I Can't Go Back to Yesterday because I was a Different Person Then…”
I could not begin to iterate how happy I was to stumble upon such a collective and to know that they have made some kind of stride to make it into our US market is very exciting. To have more artists such as Mees Dierdorp perform in the states seems to be the first step in broadening the scope of music that we know to be electronic. I am looking forward to all their future podcasts and hopefully seeing them in the US and at Mysteryland this year!