I’d expect you to know of ADE if you’re reading this blog, but in the scenario you don’t — Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) is an annual music conference and festival hosted at a variety of venues throughout Amsterdam for about a week in October. (A total of over 1,000 events in nearly 200 locations, covering the whole spectrum of electronic subgenres!) Last year in 2018, the festival welcomed 400,000 festival visitors from over 100 countries.
Working in the industry myself (outside of this blog I produce concerts) I was particularly drawn to the conference, and flew out this year to attend the ADE University program as well as some daytime events and night parties. It would be difficult to try and cover/explain everything that happened, as I’m no ADE expert with this being my first time, but I do want to highlight some of the things I did and what I loved about them.
First things first, the bulk of my experience: ADE University, a program that aims to inspire and educate both Dutch and international students who aspire to be the music professionals of the future. This conference track took place at Generator Hostel and ran from Wednesday, October 16th through to Friday, October 18th. Although I’m no longer a student, young professionals under 30 are also admitted access. The daily program of panels and discussions was packed and impressive, and can be viewed here. Highlights below:
Since I mentioned the location of this being the Generator, I will note I stayed there and couldn’t recommend it more. The premises were modern and clean, the restaurant had strong coffee and filling breakfast, and there’s a nightclub in the basement. The city center was within walking distance, as were other parts of the city worth seeing. I also had such a social experience! With the conference taking place in the event rooms at Generator, many attendees were also staying there, and of those who weren’t, many stuck around during the day into the night. Every time I sat down in the lobby, I ended up in a conversation with someone new — I met people from all over the world and by being there for the same reason, we already had something in common. The vibe of this place was incredible and I’d wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.
ADE Sound Lab is a multi-day program covering everything about sound, creativity, and technology. I’m not sure about previous years, but this year it was hosted at the Compagnie Theater. Although I didn’t attend any of the sessions due to overlap with ADE University, I did stop by the space to check out Moog’s Psychedelic Synthesizer Sanctuary and a Gear Test Lab featuring Allen & Heath, Arturia, EboSuite, Loopcloud, ROLI, and Spitfire Audio.
The Moog space offered a hands-on experience to discover their analog synthesizers, including the 16-voice polyphonic Moog One, legacy Moog modular systems, and the new semi-modular Matriarch. Moog Synthesizer Specialists and Moog Factory Engineers were also available for assistance. Having been a DJ/producer up until a few years ago, I can say that a lot of gear — especially complex synthesizers — is intimidating. I think what Moog did here was a wonderful way to invite people in to casually experience and learn more on their own.
The first film screening I attended at ADE was 24 Hour Party People (2002) at LAB111. The film followed the story of the Manchester music scene, specifically Tony Wilson and his friends creating the legendary Factory Records and the Hacienda Club, as well as emerging bands like Joy Division, New Order, and the Happy Mondays.
Next I had access to a preview screening of Beats (2019) at Studio/K — this was my favorite. Beats follows the unlikely friendship between teens Spanner — who lives with his criminal brother — and Johnno — whose potential stepfather is a cop — in a Scottish town. Johnno’s family is moving to a new town, and on their last night out, the two friends steal cash from Spanner’s brother and head to an illegal rave. It had some of those goosebumpy moments like my favorite rave movie, Groove (2000).
Probably in the minority here, but I mainly ventured out to Amsterdam for the conference portion, and didn’t go wild with other parties and events, so I could also spend time exploring the city itself. The first party I went to was United in Prog at Club Nova for deep and progressive tunes from an international line up of Colorize, Silk Music and Zerothree artists (including Amy Wiles, A.M.R., Anden, Boxer, Dezza, Enamour, Estiva, Farius, Kolonie, Matt Fax, Pete K, Rodg, Sound Quelle and Vintage & Morelli).
The best time I had was AEON, Click Records & Basmati’s all-night party at Oosterbar (conveniently in the basement of Generator). I was dancing to amazing music from midnight until 8am and it was wonderful.
One afternoon, I stumbled upon a day party with Pioneer featuring DJ sets by Roger Sanchez, Meduza, and Kristen Knight. All three sets happened in a row in an intimate setting of probably no more than 100 people. So happy I found it! On my last night, I went to Club YOLO for the Acid Jack party. I ran into a few people I knew from home, which was also pretty cool.
Outside of the clubs, I was invited to attend a really cool event put on by Ballantines and Mixmag with some of the superheads of nightclub culture: Mike (Sub Club, Glasgow), Pau (Nitsa, Barcelona) Nicolas (Output, New York), Ali (The Gärten, Lebanon). There was an art installation, documentary screening, and panel discussion showcasing their work with these venues. I loved this!
One of the best parts about traveling for festivals is exploring new places. I fit in a lot, including a three-hour walking tour, local markets, a cat museum, and of course, food. The city is very walkable, but Uber was available as well, which was convenient for late-night and airport transit.
Dates have been announced! October 21-25, 2020. Pre-register here.