Our visitors, both real life and virtual, frequently ask us why we don’t allow the use of cameras inside JACK Amsterdam. I’ll gladly explain.
Let me start with an anecdote by Touria Meliani (Counselor of Art & Culture Amsterdam): “At night people are more free. The night has a completely different rhythm, and attracts a different crowd in a different state than the people who visit a theatre show on Sunday afternoon in the Concertgebouw. For me personally, the night is about letting it all go, and that brings out many positive things in most people. The night is a space of adventure, experimentation. At night you may come across many different people of different backgrounds and cultures, whom you might not meet so readily during the day. That infrastructure is essential in the creation of art.”
In short, At night we show a different side of ourselves. A side that we can’t always show at the office or in society in general.
Together with our employees and visitors, Jack works to offer a space in which visitors can feel free and safe to show any and all sides of themselves. And within that sense of freedom and safety there is no space for the worry of which photo or video might end up online for the rest of the world to review. Jack strives to free his visitors from the worry of judgement by (and of) others, in the present and all possible futures. This is the main reason that pictures and videos are prohibited within his walls, and cameras are decorated with stickers to bring across that message.
We make sure that everyone can party and let it all out in whatever way they choose. And let's be honest, you don’t need your camera for that, now do you?
We love the fact that our visitors can be anonymous for a night. Someone might hold an executive position within an international company, while enjoying their weekly release moment bouncing their leather strapped body on some proper electronic beats. This is where everybody deserves a separation between week life and nightlife - profession and pleasures. This same executive might meet someone way outside his usual crowd, say a visual artist, and - feeling completely free of worry - share a meaningful conversation about life and the reason for living. The night is about connecting, releasing, sharing new perspectives and backgrounds.
There are few who can still life without their smartphones in daily life. Besides a social function, this thing is actually useful for things like giving directions or asking grandfather Internet the many questions in life, like “Why is the sky blue?”, “Can you feel the love tonight?” And “how to be single”.
At night, safely inside, however, we have no need for these social functions, directions, or the wisdom of grandfather Internet. With our feet on the dancefloor, we find fresh social contacts everywhere around us and besides the fact that we must be capable of finding the toilets without GPS, we have our wild imaginations to create our world into being. Letting go of your phone (and the mind) is liberating, just as liberating as your moves on the dancefloor.
You might be interested to know that Jack is not the only club banning smart phones and cameras from their dancefloor. The club scene is divided into two sides: one that happily uses club photography and aftermovies as marketing for their events and another that wishes to ban all wearable technology. This has given rise to the suspicion that ‘New Media’ clash with elements of the clubbing ideology.
A study by online Beau Louisse (7 April 2015) examined the effect of New Media on club culture. The study reveals that “new media cause a field of tension between the core values of club culture and their practice on the dancefloor, because new media prevent or hamper manifestations of the core values”. Even though they are becoming more and more difficult to come into being, clubbers keep attaching importance to values as freedom, escapism, collectivity, and hedonism.
The Polish festival Unsound also introduced a ban on photography in 2015, as did the NY clubs Le Baron, No. 8, Sankeys and Output. The London club Fabric made a similar request for a night in Oktoberfest 2014: “Turn your phones off and rave on”. Even the venue Doornroosje in Nijmegen joined the crusade against nightlife media usage. Prior to their 24-hour goodbye party at the previous location in July 2014, organisers shared the following message on their website: “To promote the atmosphere on the dancefloor, we’d prefer to see as little phone as possible. For that reason we advise everyone to put away their phones and cameras and fully enjoy the moment.”
And it’s not just clubs that embrace these rules one after another, DJ’s are taking the reins too. American techno-dj DVS1, who frequently performs at several clubs in Europe, spread posters in September 2014 through his social media and the website of his record label Hush, with the text:
“Enjoy right now. No pictures, no video, no phones”.
“Grab it, use it, spread it... '' is his message for sharing the posters. He hopes his close to 65.000 followers on Facebook will also join the movement for a phone- and camera free dancefloor.
We love to boast our wonderful, perfect lives on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. But are we still interested in living the present moment? Do we still feel, smell, taste and play with life and the beings around us? Are we still using our senses, challenging them to explore, expand and experience? Do we still feel the many feelings of reality, or do we choose to live a plastic life?
The night and JACK represent a flexible shape. We choose to not be rigid, but to be free in our expression. Release, escapism, collectivity, and hedonism, we embrace it. And we challenge you! Next time you’re out dancing, leave your phone in a locker and free yourself for the night. Be present, be real.