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After Amputation, Ailing DJ Pioneer Dimitri Lifted By His Peers

Tom Trago, Steve Rachmad, San Proper, and others to play Trouw benefit for Amsterdam legend

This Sunday, Amsterdam’s house and techno community will come together to raise money for Dimitri Kneppers, one of the city’s most revered DJs. Kneppers, better known simply as Dimitri, helped kick-start the Netherlands’ house and techno scene in 1988 with his parties at Amsterdam’s Roxy club, and he currently holds a residency at the city’s celebrated Trouw club. With the exception of a three-year retirement spent volunteering with disabled children on a farm, Dimitri, the proverbial (and literal) DJs’ favorite DJ, has been a constant presence on the Dutch scene for a quarter century — until recently, when he had the toes on his right foot amputated after contracting a bacterial infection. Shortly thereafter, his conditioned worsened, and doctors were forced to remove his lower leg.

As the organizers of a fundraiser for him note, “This is of course a huge setback. It’s unclear when he’ll be released from the hospital, but we do know that he’ll be going to a rehabilitation clinic soon after where he’ll learn to walk with a prosthesis. The whole process will take years. And this is where things get really gritty. Dimitri is a dj/producer, which also makes him an entrepreneur. This means you won’t receive any unemployment benefits unless you have an insurance for working disability. This gratuity costs around 300 euro’s per month with an own risk of one year. So not a lot of artists, including Dimitri, have this insurance.”

To help offset his medical, rehabilitation, and housing costs, Trouw will throw a benefit party this Sunday, May 5, with all revenues from ticket sales, bar, and even coat check will go to the ailing DJ. The lineup is a who’s who of Amsterdam’s club scene, featuring Joost van Bellen, Steve Rachmad, Tom Trago, San Proper, Melon, Makam, Boris Werner, William Kuoam Djoko, Serge, Patrice Bäumel, and Awanto3 on the bill. Tickets/donations are priced on a sliding scale, and for well-wishers unable to attend, Trouw has opened a special bank account in Dimitri’s name.

Serge, of the Clone label, says of Dimitri’s early years at the Roxy, “He had a unique way of setting the mood for a night and was one of very few DJs to play obscure and difficult tracks at the right moment and make those unknown tracks small underground hits and tunes of the night. He was using tracks as color palette to set the mood and make a party. He was a real pioneer who had a rather abstract approach of using tracks and was always surprising with his selections. All the trainspotters had tapes with tracks from his DJ sets which they played at the record stores to find out the title. All these unknown tracks grew to mystical proportions in that pre-internet era. I don’t think there was another DJ around at that time who had the focus and right ear to refine dance music like Dimitri did.”