Martin, Surhein, Germany

It was in 2006 when a colleague gave me some music videos on a hard drive. Besides the usual stuff like The Offspring etc. I found a video called "Qlimax 2003 Prophecy". Not knowing that this video would influence my music taste and spending habits to this day, I clicked on it with zero expectations. “Boaaaah what's going on?!” I thought to myself. What a bassline! My colleague hadn’t seen the video himself and I told him that he absolutely had to watch it.

So, I searched on YouTube for more Hardstyle videos, listened to every set on and in 2008 we went to Qlimax... I was thrilled because I have never been to something like this before! After that, I went to various festivals and bought vinyl and DJ equipment. At some point, I started listening to mainstream Hardcore as well, because Hardstyle started to change in this period (2012 onward).

However, these days, I mainly listen to Hardstyle and not so much Hardcore. Quite some good music was released in the meantime.

Hardstyle: The only genre to which I remained faithful. I could write so much more...

John, San Diego, USA

I recently passed the eight year threshold from when I first heard a Hardstyle track. I first heard this track, Gimme Love by Noisecontrollers, my senior year of high school when playing a video game with a friend. Although I was not immediately hooked by these new sounds, I wanted to learn more. Quickly, Fear.FM came into my life as I would write down specific tracks that grabbed my attention throughout summer and my first year at university.

Over a year into listening to Hardstyle, I had still never experienced this music live. That is, until a Headhunterz show was announced in my area for a month after the groundbreaking “Q-Dance Presents: Headhunterz” event, the first one in the Ziggo Dome. At the time I didn’t know anybody who liked Hardstyle at my university so I gathered up all of my courage and set out on an evening bus alone. After some time waiting to get in, and waiting through the boring opening DJs, I finally saw Headhunterz from the dance floor looking down on the anxious crowd. When Headhunterz finally came on, it all became a blur as I lost myself to tracks I had heard countless times. I clearly remember when his remix to “Lessons in Love” came on as he stood up above the CDJs absorbing the crowd energy for that specific moment. Headhunterz even played a three track encore to close out the night which I later found out was a very rare event to experience.

When the night finally came to a close, my ears ringing relentlessly, I was filled with a warm afterglow I could not put any words to. Although it was Friday morning and I still had classes to attend in 6 hours time, I was in such a state of bliss that I truly didn’t care about anything else in that moment. This was the beginning of a much bigger journey into Hardstyle than I ever could have imagined.

Harry, Washington DC, USA

Everyone has a story of where it all began. For me, it was at a Chinese restaurant and sleeping on the streets of Times Square. Yes, that’s right! This is where my Hardstyle story began.

Like many, I had discovered this sound by accident while browsing online and was instantly addicted in an indescribable way. Spending all my time searching for like-minded souls on the internet, I eventually found those that I would consider early pioneers in American Hardstyle. After professing my eagerness to play a part in the movement, they offered a then 16 year old me the chance that would change the course of my life forever. An invitation to attend a party in New York City called Revolution 4 with Headhunterz as the headliner.

Despite living in Washington DC with absolutely no form of transportation and needing parental permission; I suddenly found myself breaking all the rules by hopping on a bus to NYC with nothing more than the clothes on my back and some pocket change. Sorry Mom!

As soon as I made it to NYC, I found myself inside a multi-level Chinese restaurant where the upper level had been modified into a makeshift concert hall with diners enjoying their dinner on the lower level. I will never forget the sight of the diners when they witnessed hundreds of party goers running up the stairs as soon as the doors opened. I knew at this moment that these were my people and I was exactly where I belonged.

As the party concluded there I was, late at night and alone in the middle of Times Square. I located a chair to sit and despite freezing temperatures, reflected through the night of what I had just experienced. It was in this moment that I realized this was what I was meant to be doing for the rest of my life. Today I’m 26 years old, I just moved to Los Angeles, and I’m still being guided by the very same force that led me down the path I’m meant to be walking. Working each day in the studio, patiently waiting for the time to tell my story through the music we are all connected to.

Ernz, New Jersey, USA

My journey began back in 2008, when Showtek was still kicking bass and Defqon still only knew Almere Strand. My best friends at the time introduced me to what would become my future. My friend showed me my first track, the Defqon.1 2006 anthem by Showtek. I remember that moment super clearly, but at the time had no idea what it would mean for my future. Two years later in 2010, we would go to our first event in NYC, Revolution 6 with Wildstylez and JDX. This event would kick off my love for the Harder Styles even more and was simply foreshadowing the future.

Meanwhile, we had already been throwing basement parties back on our town in New Jersey. Under the name "Universe 420", parties were strictly Hard Dance, and very rarely ventured into other territory. Guests were bathed in an entirely UV lit setting, topped with custom lighting and a large speaker setup. These parties would go on for some time until I moved, and over the next few years I would be found in NYC almost weekly attending and working numerous Hard Dance events. In 2015, we decided to finally make the journey, and traveled from the US for our first Defqon.1. We entered excited and we left speechless.

Soon after, I started a project called "The Qollector", wherein I have been searching far and wide for Hard Dance memorabilia that has been lost to time in an effort to preserve it. Since 2015, I have made the journey home 7 times. Attending Defqon.1, Qlimax, and the final Q-Base. These days, my newest venture is developing my own custom Hard Dance merchandise via 3D Printing, bringing my own ideas to life for everyone to enjoy. Forever on my wrist now, this music will always be my one true love.

Amy, New York, USA

For me Hardstyle is about the nights that turned into mornings; the strangers that turned into life long friends; the endless plane, train, bus, and car rides all across the globe; the feeling you get when you relive those blurry phone videos at the end of the night; and of course the moments of trying to explain all of this to your family.

Although I cannot pinpoint the exact moment where I fell in love with Hardstyle it is no secret that it has truly made a meaningful impact on my life. Although I have gone through phases of many different genres, the Harder Styles have always been paramount. In May 2014 I saw Headhunterz for the first time at Electric Daisy Carnival in New York with my younger brother and it was the first time I saw Hardstyle live and it’s a moment I’ll never forget.

Following that, I studied abroad for a month in the Netherlands that same summer and it changed my life for the better. Upon returning to the United States I got involved with East Coast Hard Dance. It was through this organization that I met my closest friends and discovered my passion for organizing events. Then a few years later I moved to the Netherlands and started my own company Drop Bass Not Bombs where I organize electronic music events for charity, and of course, our first event was a Hard Dance party the night before Defqon.

Without Hardstyle, I would not have met the majority of my friends, my rave family, or my boyfriend. Its cliché but Hardstyle knows no boundaries, it doesn’t matter where you’re from or what language you speak it something that can transcend the borders of time, distance, and conflict.

Lorianne, Stasbourg, France

I first discovered Hardstyle back in 2016 when I attended a festival in Spain during the summer. At that time, I was mainly listening to EDM and House music but I happened to be at a stage during D-Block & S-Te-Fan’s set and I really enjoyed it a lot. I remember hearing Hardstyle once before, the legendary track of Brennan Heart ‘F.I.F.O.’ and that is mainly because I grew up in Qatar, a middle eastern country where Hardstyle music is non-existent.

As I have always been interested in all genres of electronic music, with my father being a Trance fan and my mother a House fan, I had as a dream to move to the Netherlands after high school and follow studies to one day make my own music events. I met Hardstyle again, right after moving here as one of my housemates at the time was listening to and producing Hardstyle. As we got along, he made me discover so many tracks and I attended my first Hardstyle event in September 2017,”The Return of Headhunterz” which made me completely fall in love with the music, and my housemate.

I listen to a lot of music, from a very young age, but no other genres gave me the feeling that Hardstyle gives me. It makes me feel part of something that I can relate to and this scene has shown me personally that no matter what, you have to remain strong, face your problems and keep your head up. Today, I couldn’t see my life without Hardstyle and I am looking forward to keep on seeing every day what this beautiful scene has to give.

Rachel, Arnhem, Netherlands

When I was sixteen years old, one of my closest friends asked me to join her to a party in the Matrixx, which she won free tickets for. It was a carnival themed party and we were supposed to dress up. After some contemplating, we decided to go as housekeepers, including a tiny black skirt and the necessary cleaning accessories. I still remember very well that we were sitting in the train, and I asked her what kind of party we were actually heading to. "A Hardstyle party, didn't you know?"

After this night I was hooked. The atmosphere, the people, the crazy laser show... I never experienced something like this before. Everyone was just so nice. When we walked out of the venue I felt so sad, and it was at that exact moment that I decided to forever join this group to Hardstyle parties.

Soon after this I met my boyfriend, who was a die hard Hardstyle lover as well. I joined him and his friends to every possible party, still sixteen at that time. I never took into consideration that I actually wasn't supposed to be there; it was just too much fun.

Now, more than 8 years later, I still love it. There are few parties that I haven't been to yet and I'm not planning on having my last one anytime soon. The scene might have been changed over the years, and even though most of my friends are done with it, my happy feeling will forever be linked to this music.

Nena, Druten, Netherlands

The very first time I heard Hardstyle was when my brother entered my bedroom, playing a song on his phone, “Lost in Paradise” by Max Enforcer. That track changed my life. I was 13 years old.

At the age of 14, my boyfriend went to his first Defqon.1 and I couldn’t wait to turn 18 to go to my first party. So, I didn’t go.

As a 16-year-old I went to Supersized Kingsday on my own. I was shitting my pants because I didn’t know what to expect, in fact, I didn’t even know if I could get in! Luckily I got in and from that moment on I knew that day was going to be legendary. And it was.

I started off at the Freestyle stage by Foolish, which was my favorite music label back then. It didn’t take long before I met some awesome people and I was really surprised by how friendly everyone was. I saw some of the best artist playing and despite the rain and not knowing a lot of people I had the best day of my life. So I wanted more. That year I also went to Free Festival, Q-BASE and “Q-dance presents: Scantraxx 15 years”.

The next party I really wanted to go to was Defqon.1, but I was still 17 years old. A friend of mine owns the company that supplies the inflatables for many dance events and also everything for Defqon.1. I asked him if I could be on his team for 2018. Defqon.1 turned my world upside down. I enjoyed every second of it and working during Power Hour was the best decision I ever made. That’s how my journey started.

Verena, Salzburg, Austria

I’ve always been into EDM. My friends thought I was weird because I was constantly listening to what they would call “party music”. But I didn’t care.

When I was 17, I finally attended my first EDM festival – Electric Love, my hometown festival. I was blown away by the lights, the fireworks, the energy, and the atmosphere. I was a 100% mainstage girl, dancing to the beats of Martin Garrix & Hardwell. Then my friend and I decided to leave, but the exit was right next to the Q-Dance stage. I was like: ‘Wait a minute, I literally have no idea how people dance to that weird music’. So we stopped and watched. And after a few seconds, I couldn’t stand still anymore and danced with them. That’s when it hit me.

I spent the entire next morning looking up Hardstyle songs and when Electric Love day 2 started, I couldn’t be at the mainstage anymore. I spent the entire day at the Q-Dance stage and was happier than ever. I saw artists like Headhunterz, Wildstylez or Brennan Heart and even though I didn’t know a single song back then, I realized that I truly have an Orange Heart.

My love for this music got so far, that I even decided to move to the country where it all began. And now I am here, in The Netherlands, living my best life. Without a doubt, that was the best decision I’ve ever made. I met friends that became family and found the love of my life, simply thanks to this music. Music connects on a whole other level and I am glad that it led me to where I belong.

Julia, Regensburg, Germany

Five years ago I went to my first electronic music festival in Austria. After one day of only EDM music, the Q-Dance Stage opened and I went there with my friends to check it out as one of the many stages - little did I know about Hardstyle back then. It was amazing! We got there and the crowd was so dedicated from the first second until the very last. We never left.

After this first experience, I got more and more into Harder Styles. I started listening to Hardstyle when working out to push me even further, I put on this music when I am stressed or have a bad day because it became my kind of outlet and the lyrics remind me that there is more to life. I even became an ambassador for a Harder Styles festival. The more I went to these kinds of festivals, the more people I started connecting with that have the same passion. And no matter which festival I travel to, I know I will find them at the front left of the Hardstyle stage.

We are one big community and today I am so thankful that I can say I have found some of my best friends through this music. We live up to 800 km apart but we manage to plan our festival trips together and just meet up there. I’ve gotten to know so many countries in a special way - by traveling to festivals and the people that I’ve met there. We all have a special bond. It doesn‘t matter where someone comes from or what they have done in their lives – when we listen to Hardstyle we can be who we are, forget about everything and just be in the moment together. That is what makes it so beautiful to me.