Spring is in full bloom, and thus – for most of the music-loving community – so is the yearly frolic to Lentekabinet. The weekend-long festival is located in a cute, buttercup-dotted recreational area just north of Amsterdam; meaning that, for its local visitors, it’s both a frolic and a bike ride. This trip starts on the ferry, packed with fellow festival-goers (and their bikes), after which you collectively pass scenic polders and flowery meadows. It’s like a peloton, only slower and with beer.
And sure, covering flowers for spring isn’t exactly groundbreaking. But Lentekabinet (‘lente’ is Dutch for spring) embraced the season with more than just floral aesthetics. Historically, in a primordial, pantheistic sense, springtime rituals have been about renewal and rebirth. And this year, Lentekabinet fully went for that theme. Granted, the weather played along. The air is full of sun and excitement – okay, and bugs and pollen. The now ten-year-old festival went through a rebranding too, swapping its angular, grid-like graphic design for pink butterfly logos and curly handwriting. 
On the festival grounds itself, this rebranding is more subtly visible. The Poppy stage, previously known as the Tweede Kamer, has been curated by the local yet well-known DJ Job Jobse. Not so incidentally, he opens said stage on Saturday and closes it on Sunday, both times with his typical infectiously cheerful house. A few hours later, Fafi Abdel Nour takes the same stage. Like Job, Fafi is a well-loved figure at Lentekabinet, in the Netherlands, and beyond. You can hear why: his musical style is uplifting. It keeps you interested, as he alternates rhythmic drums, four-on-the-floors and swaying vocals. Fafi manages to unite the vast crowd, which (in my humble opinion) is one of dance music’s greatest achievements. Squishing past sweaty bodies, we meet a woman who proudly tells us that she’s attended this festival since its conception, showing us pics of herself, on that same field, ten years ago. How cute is that?
We head to Lentekabinet’s more intimate Sundew stage, co-curated by local club Kanaal40. Backstage, someone taped an apple to the portaloo’s interior wall, using it as a makeshift incense holder, which smells really good… but I digress. On the stage itself, there’s hardly a lad in sight, and swaying women dominate the front row. That’s all because of Manuka Honey, who is (wo)manning the decks, dropping sensual reggaeton, sultry garage and more. “She’s playing the decks like a clit,” a friend next to me notes. Which is true. Manuka Honey, also known as Melissa Malik, is both an astrologer and a musician, meaning her music has a spiritual layer befitting a primal springtime ritual. 
With things getting spiritual, it feels like the perfect moment to move back to the Poppy stage, where Eris Drew and Maya Bouldry-Morrison – aka Octo Octa – are set to play. Backstage again, I suppress the butterflies in my stomach (butterflies aren’t only Lentekabinet’s new mascots, they also flutter above the fields and, apparently, in my belly), to greet Maya and Eris. Not that there’s anything to be nervous about. They are so nice, as we chitchat about their flight and admire people’s skirt lengths. When it’s time for them to take the stage, Maya drops the first record, setting off a juicy, vocal-rich trip. Their set is a journey, but a smooth one. Every destination, every transition, matches perfectly. What else can you expect from a couple like them, hugging and kissing each other as they play?
The scaffold-like installation behind the decks is a new and nice addition to the Poppy stage. There’s room and springing floors to dance on. But crucially, from this vantage point, you can see Maya and Eris at work: their toggle-fading, beatmatching and rhythmic footwork. “At some of these festivals, there’s this big barricade between you and the audience. You’re just fucking shoulders and a head,” laughed Eris in our previous interview. “People can’t see what’s happening unless the equipment is exposed.” Thankfully, the Poppy stage allows you to appreciate the technique that goes into mixing. Actually, most Lentekabinet’s stages give the audience a full view of the DJ’s equipment and skills. But I digress, again, as Maya drops an edit of Cashmere’s Brighter Days. Lift me up, for sure! The sun sets, the mood gets ecstatic and Eris masterfully (mistress-fully?) weaves in a beat that sounds like her own Quivering In Time. But at this stage (meaning both the Poppy stage and this time in space) who can tell? Rather than trying to Shazam individual tracks, it’s time to let the music transport you to wherever you need to go. Until it’s time to go home, that is.
Lentekabinet’s Sunday feels somewhat more leisurely. There’s time to explore the visual arts programme, which (compared to the festival’s previous years), has been knitted into the event more thoughtfully. The Fiat Multipla that has been transformed into a sauna is cute. But the works from Farida Sedoc stand out in particular: big astroturf banners with even bigger statements sprayed on them. They hang tall next to the trees, surrounded by smoke machines. The Swamp is also new this year: a small and hidden stage which, true to its name, is muddy, sweaty yet sunny. It’s also equipped with the iconic wooden Krackfree Soundsystem, which serves a fantastic sound, thanks to LazerGazer behind the decks. The whole vibe is irresistibly danceable, with breakbeats and more butterflies filling the air, as we dance barefoot on the steamy grass.
Then, it’s over to the Sundew stage again. Even though the sun is slowly lowering behind the trees, C.FRIM is keeping it hot, hot, hot! She debuted to the larger Dutch audience at last year’s Dekmantel https://metalmagazine.eu/en/post/dekmantel-2023, with a set that convinced even the stiffest Dutchies to swing their hips (no shade, I can hardly move my hips as well). Nevertheless, the intimacy and outdoor-ness of the Sundew stage suit her well, as she drops lots of sultry dub and heavy bass, driving the crowd into a frenzy. 
Then, it’s back to the Poppy stage for Job Jobse’s closing set. With springtime rituals being Lentekabinet’s overarching theme, it feels relevant to mention that spring means ‘to jump’ in Dutch. And so, we jump, like mad Duracell bunnies. There’s time for a quick cheers with Leendert, another familiar face at Lentekabinet, who ensures the Poppy stage runs smoothly all weekend. Cheers to the skilled organisational team and all the artists. Cheers to familiar faces and new friends. To rebirth, new beginnings and sun-drenched rituals. Cheers to Lentekabinet!