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Paradiso is a music venue and cultural center in Amsterdammarker, the Netherlandsmarker. The venue is inside an old church, which has been transformed into a music venue. It is located on de Weteringschans, bordering the Leidsepleinmarker, one of the nightlife and tourism centers of the city. Outside, the building is somewhat dark and forbidding. The main venue in the former church interior has high ceilings and a balcony overlooking the stage area, with three large illuminated church windows above the stage. The acoustics are rather echoey, but improvements have been made over the years. In addition to the main venue, there is a smaller cafe stage on an upper floor and a cafe in the basement.

Paradiso was opened by the city in 1968 as a publicly-subsidized youth entertainment center. Along with the nearby Melkwegmarker (Milky Way), it soon became synonymous with the hippie counterculture and the rock music of that era. It was one of the first locations in which the use and sale of soft drugs was tolerated. From the mid-1970s, Paradiso became increasingly associated with punk and new wave music, although it continued to program a wide variety of artists. Glen Matlock played his last gig with the Sex Pistols at the Paradiso. Starting in the late 1980s, raves and themed dance parties became frequent.

On May 26-27, 1995, the Rolling Stones played two semi-acoustic concerts at the Paradiso. Scalped tickets reportedly sold for many thousands of dollars. Recorded tracks from these concerts were released on the Stones' Stripped album later that year. Keith Richards said that the Paradiso concerts were the best live shows the Stones ever did.

Poster on the side of the Paradiso

In recent years, the venue has settled into an eclectic range of programming, which, besides rock, can include lectures, plays, classical music, and crossover artists such as Willie Nelson, who filmed a concert DVD there. Other artists who have recorded or filmed concerts at the Paradiso include Bad Brains, Kayak, Loudness, Nirvana, John Cale, The Cure, Soft Machine, EmilĂ­ana Torrini, Link Wray, Omar & the Howlers, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Beth Hart, Dayna Kurtz, Dave Matthews, Smoosh, Suzanne Vega, Amy Winehouse, Epica, Editors, Motorpsycho and Riverside. American rock band Live released their DVD, Live at the Paradiso - Amsterdam in January 2009.

The future of the Paradiso has at times been a political issue in Amsterdam. Some in the city council would like to relocate the venue and redevelop the property on which it sits. However, because of its status as a cultural icon, the Paradiso has managed to survive so far.

Further reading

  • Converted Churches. Tectum Publishers, Antwerp, Belgium 2007, 178-183. ISBN 978-90-76886-44-2

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