Brian Bout: Ground Zero director with a passion for harddance festivals

Ground Zero can rightfully be called one of the Netherlands’ most unique festivals. This hard dance event is the only festival in the Netherlands that is held at night. Since 2006, Bout has been coming to Bussloo with Ground Zero every year to organize this night festival. Despite the fact that the first edition of Ground Zero was organized in 2006, the festival actually traces its origins back to the early 1990s.

A then inexperienced Bout decided in that period to organize Mysteryland. After a few editions, in 1997 the Edammer came across the recreational lake Bussloo in Gelderland in its search for a suitable festival location. At the time, the festival organizer wanted to organize the fourth edition of Mysteryland at this location. However, the first encounter with the current location of Ground Zero was not exactly love at first sight. On the contrary: according to Bout Bussloo anything but suitable for organizing a festival.

Brian Bout Ground Zero

Introducing Bussloo

Bout said he had ‘never heard of Bussloo’ when an acquaintance tipped him off about this location. Even though the location was beautiful, the UDC director quickly came to the conclusion that it would not be the right place in Bussloo: there were far too many trees at the location. At the same time, however, Bout’s mother was in a meeting with the director of Recreational Community Veluwe. He really wanted to bring the festival to Bussloo and asked which trees could be removed, after which a cross was immediately put on it.

And so it happened: a week later all trees that would hinder a possible festival had already been removed. According to Bout, the Veluwe Recreational Community was looking hard for extra income, so he was welcomed with open arms. Only the municipality of Voorst still had to be convinced, but that was achieved without too much difficulty. Bout now had an excellent track record, which soon convinced the official on duty. Moreover, by bringing a festival to Bussloo, the municipality wanted to show that these events could also be organized outside the Randstad.

Ground Zero birth

What made Bout immediately distinctive is the fact that the municipality immediately issued a night permit. This allowed for partying all night long in the open air, something that had never been seen before in the Netherlands. The first event at the recreational lake immediately attracted 30,000 visitors and was immediately successful. Nevertheless, not everything went smoothly, because neighbors had complained about noise nuisance. This was reason for Bout to take a different approach and to build up a good relationship with the neighbours, also during the first edition of Ground Zero in 2006.

Bout now knows all neighbors personally and every edition of Ground Zero the neighbors are guests at the festival. According to the UDC director, the neighborhood is sacred and thanks to the good relationship, the Ground Zero festival runs without problems every year. It is no coincidence that Bussloo has a special place in his heart. “If I ever die, they can scatter my ashes in two places: in Spaarnwoude, where Dance Valley is held, and in Bussloo!” Bout says.