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The Melkweg (Dutch for "Milky Way") is a popular music venue and cultural center in Amsterdam, Netherlands. It is located on the Lijnbaansgracht, near the Leidseplein - the prime nightlife square of Amsterdam. It is housed in a former milk factory and is divided into a number of spaces of varying sizes. Besides four halls for varying genres of music concerts, the venue houses a cinema, a restaurant and an exhibition space. The Melkweg is run by a nonprofit organisation that has existed since 1970.
The main entrance of the Melkweg
In the 19th century a sugar refinery was established at the Lijnbaansgracht. In 1920, the milk company OVVV bought the factory. Until 1969, the OVVV housed in the factory, before closing. The building was closed for a year, but reopened as a cultural center in 1970. It was only open for the summer and featured a café, a restaurant and one hall for music and theatre. Because of the success the Melkweg reopened in the summer of 1971 and 1972 before becoming a permanent venue since 1973.
In the years that followed the Melkweg became one of the most important pop venues of Amsterdam and the Netherlands. A meeting place for hippies in the seventies and eighties, the Melkweg embraced all music styles and has evolved into a multidisciplinary center for all music styles.
The venue has 6 halls :
- The Max, which is the largest concert hall of the venue. It hosted internationally known acts like Prince or Arctic Monkeys, but is also used for parties, meetings and film projections. It has a capacity of 1,500 people and opened in late 1995. It was completely renovated in 2007.
- The Old Hall (Oude Zaal), the oldest concert hall of the venue, also the only one until the opening of "The Max" in 1995. It hosts concerts of lesser-known acts, and bands such as U2 or Nirvana played their first Dutch concerts here. Grateful Dead played an unscheduled show here on October 16, 1981 using borrowed instruments. It has a capacity of 700 people.
- The Rabo Hall (Rabozaal), which is in a separated building, and mostly hosts film projections or theater plays. It has a capacity of 1400 people.
- The Theater Hall (Theaterzaal), a small hall used for smaller artists and theater plays. It has a capacity of between 90 and 130 people.
- The Cinema, a private film projection hall with a capacity of 90 people.
- The Exhibition space (Expo), used for art exhibitions.
Melkweg is referenced in the Cracker song "Euro-Trash Girl", the Lagwagon song "Infectious" and in title of the Half Man Half Biscuit song "Prag Vec at the Melkweg". The title of The Church's song "Under the Milky Way" is also a reference to the Melkweg. Heather Nova's 1995 EP "Live from the Milky Way" was recorded here as was Spacemen 3's album Performance. Frank Black And The Catholics recorded there live on March 24, 2001 on "Live From Melkweg".