Wouter de Vink
By Wouter de Vink

The ambitious Hardstyle DNA made history last weekend. The largest hardstyle outdoor festival in Scandinavia went through an enormous rollercoaster: with so many setbacks that it even seemed that this huge milestone would not take place: “Everything was against us, but we persevered for the people here.”

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Hardstyle DNA took a huge step by setting up a festival ‘according to Dutch standards’ for the first time in Northern Europe. With two full festival days in the beautiful capital of Oslo, a mainstage 15 meters high and a line-up that we rarely come across. Headhunterz, Sub Zero Project, Brennan Heart and many more of the biggest (and Scandinavian) artists would show why the scene in Norway is about to explode.

Hardstyle DNA 2023 Oslo City Center

Almost sabotaged: politics, media and suppliers throw a spanner in the works at the very last minute

Norway has never had to deal with a (Hardstyle) festival of this size before. Despite the fact that everything was arranged down to the last detail, ‘others’ unfortunately thought differently about this. They contacted the local press and because of this negative attention (presumably from the conservative corner), the ticket provider, among others, recoiled. All the money from ticket sales was suddenly no longer paid before but after the festival: with all its consequences. “At the last minute it was the question whether all artists from the Netherlands would still come…”

Politicians and the neighbours didn’t want to cooperate and even disrupted the party – even though the municipality has officially approved the license for Hardstyle DNA Outdoor Festival in the city center. Some local counterparts also use their network to have all suppliers called off at the last minute: a nightmare for any festival. The result is a lot of cancellations one evening in advance…

Da Tweekaz @ Hardstyle DNA 2023

“Those Scandinavians are so dedicated that they resemble the Chileans”

We were also present in Oslo. Normally we see hundreds of Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish and Danish flags all over the summer, so we wanted to see Scandinavia’s biggest festival with our own eyes. The gates opened a little later than planned: due to the withdrawal of the suppliers, a lot had to be arranged at the very last minute. The VIP was not as desired and the decoration of the towering scaffolding as a mainstage was completely missing – to put it simply, there was only a 15 meter high skeleton with a DJ booth. Strangely enough, this couldn’t spoil the fun.

We were told in advance that the visitors are so enthusiastic that they resemble dedicated countries such as Chile. They are so happy (and especially proud) that there is finally a big festival with such an amazing line-up near them. As a result, they empathize enormously with the bad luck that the organization has experienced. Like them, they carry an important message and these thousands of people are all behind it: “Hardstyle is in our DNA.”

We were jokingly welcomed to “the Norwegian Fyre Festival” – a bizarre denouement of a failed and fraudulent festival in the Bahamas. However, we soon noticed that this was different. Around the festival (it is in the middle of a park) more and more people gather to take a look: it is their first contact with hardstyle and they are impressed. The Dutch benchmark that the Hardstyle DNA organization had in mind was unfortunately not achieved, but there is one thing that none of the Dutch festivals can match: the atmosphere in Scandinavia was indeed incredibly good.

Endshow Hardstyle DNA Oslo Norway

The mainstage should have been a huge glacier: luckily we still see the tip of the iceberg at night

As it gets darker, the iron skeleton of the mainstage comes to life. Meters high flamethrowers shoot into the air and about 10 lasers fly through the city of Oslo. The show is actually surprisingly impressive, while Da Tweekaz (Norwegian’s pride) grab the microphone to shout in Norwegian: “Make some noise for all the people who wanted to stop us.” The city has heard Hardstyle DNA loud and clear and knows that politics, troublesome neighbors or the media can’t stop them. The artists are also impressed by the armed forces, including Sefa. “The Norwegian scene is kicking more alive than ever.”

Although it seemed like Hardstyle DNA was going down in ambition, together with the community it kept its back straight to give what they need here. A good example is that anthem maker SVANE – an electrician in everyday life – came to the festival site early in the morning to install the electricity. A few hours later, he was playing his anthem in front of a few thousand people. A big contrast but a clear example that everyone contributes here.

Norway can be proud of brave Hardstyle DNA

When the last fireworks fly into the sky during the second final show, a big applause rises from the audience. Despite all these obstacles, visitors around us give the festival a 9 out of 10: “We are proud to finally have a ‘Dutch’ festival in Norway. We are far from there yet, but from this first edition it can only get better.”

Next year, Hardstyle DNA will be held at an extensive location (outside the city center). “With a total of 3 stages and a mainstage of 40 meters high,” says Omar Haddouche (owner of Hardstyle DNA) while still wearing a construction helmet at the end of the festival. With all the misery of the past few days, his dream cannot be broken. The dream of him, his team and the visitors to make Hardstyle big in Scandinavia. Hardstyle DNA, you should be proud. See you next year.


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A post shared by HARDSTYLE 🧬 (@hardstyledna)

Footage from Instagram page Joachim Aarnes / Jakob Wiik

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