In 1970, when Amsterdam was one of the hippie capitals of the world and flower children flocked to the city’s free love and cheap ganja, a theatrical troupe decided to perform in an old abandoned milk plant just off the Leidseplein. This experiment turned out to be a big success, and over the years the Melkweg (“Milky Way”) became a non-profit breeding ground for art and culture.
This multifunctional venue has gallery spaces, a cinema, a restaurant and two stages (the Oude Zaal and The Max). The Melkweg was one of the first venues to program world music and was instrumental in the development of the vibrant Dutch house scene, but also hosts modern dance performances and still sticks to its theatrical roots. A wide array of festivals such as the Amsterdam Roots Festival also calls the Melkweg home, even if most have also spread out to other locations.
The cinema shows an eclectic mix of animation and arthouse, alongside cult classics such as monster flicks and kung-fu films. The club nights every Friday and Saturday always draw huge crowds, regardless of which band or act performed beforehand. While the true underground spirit of the Melkweg has passed on to greener pastures, it has still retained some of its rebellious overtones.