Paradiso takes its place alongside the most legendary music venues of the 20th Century: CBGBs in New York; Fillmore West in San Francisco; Hacienda in Manchester; The Marquee in London; The Bataclan at Paris and Berghain in Berlin. Over the course of time, quite a number of legendary concerts occurred. Famous artists such as Prince, David Bowie, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse and Snopp Dogg graced its stage. For many artists, performing in Paradiso is something special, with the audience so close by on the balconies. Besides concerts, wild parties were also held, as well as artist meetings and heated debates. In total more than 26,000 events took place over the course of 50 years.
The exhibition 50 Years Paradiso shows how ‘Cosmic Relaxation Centre Paradiso’, hard won by the hippies at the time, opened its doors on Weteringschans in 1968. It became a magnet for young people from foreign lands due to its music and the drugs sold there. It was especially crowded during Easter. Easter Germans, most of them clutching sleeping bags, are what the Paradiso staff dubbed the young Germans who thronged the pop temple. Frantic parents regularly appeared on the doorstep looking for their runaway children who no doubt landed in ‘The Paradisio’.
In the latter half of 1970s punk crossed over to the Netherlands from England. The Sex Pistols and The Stranglers drove audiences wild. Paradiso is a trendsetter; it features all the new music genres. Dance, house, hip-hop. Paradiso’s programming clearly reflects Amsterdam’s cultural diversity. If Amsterdam changes, Paradiso changes with it.
Roughly 200 unique photos of concerts and artists, of parties and the many visitors are interspersed with historic posters. Visitors also hear live recordings made of concerts in the pop temple that officially celebrates its 50th year of existence on 30 March 2018. The exhibition also affords an inside look at the variety of the constantly changing Amsterdam subcultures.
The Rolling Stones
Among the pop photography hangs the album cover from the album Stripped by The Rolling Stones. Audiences could see them in concert at Paradiso on 26 and 27 May 1995. The band performed on two consecutive days to record numbers for that album. The Rolling Stones had the big hall decorated to resemble a club in New Orleans, with a temporary extra balcony. A permanent balcony was later added based on its design.
Maz Weston, originally hailing from England, has been working as a programmer at Paradiso since the late 1980s. In an English language podcatcher audio tour she relates her experiences at Paradiso as well as those of her predecessors. She moved to Amsterdam in 1988, where she organised the first acid house parties. She currently programs dance and multimedia events. In her audio tour she provides a behind the scenes look at Paradiso.
Leave your own story
The museum requests anyone who ever came to Paradiso, during the hippie era for instance, or for a concert or special party, to share his or her memories. You can do so on the website: https://geheugenvancentrum.nl/memoryofparadiso.