It is around four in the afternoon canal-side in Amsterdam and there are crowds huddled outside grand buildings such as Felix Meritis and The Dylan hotel, people with accreditation lanyards and matching branded backpacks, a palpable buzz in the air. It can mean only one thing; Amsterdam Dance Event is in town.
The global dance community media appears to be on hand, eager to grab a slice of the action and report back in their respective languages to their various countries. Meanwhile, world-famous DJs and their entourage of managers, PRs and agents mill about the city nonchalantly as if they were in their hometown. Guti walks past me, while I’m on my bike, joking around with some mates. I’m too slow to stop and catch him.
Inside Felix Meritis, there appears to be some serious networking going on wherever you look around the neo-classical cultural building. It’s one of ADE’s main conference venues and its 18th century grandeur gives the whole activity an air of decorum. The wooden central staircase is a fine piece of craftwork and each floor has its own sizeable hall perfect for giving talks. One room is decked out as the Spotify lounge while others belong to makeshift cafes and bars, all with a set of decks and a DJ on hand.
This year was the 19th edition of ADE which has continued to evolve and develop into an increasingly professional conference-level meeting of industry heads and figures. As everyone related to the dance music business descended upon the Dutch capital, it was hard to keep track of all the things going on. It is as much a celebration of electronic music as it is a flagship event for industry professionals to look forward to in the annual calendar. Conference by day, festival by night.
My musical highlights included Petre Inspirescu, the Romanian cult hero who played his trolling techno against the stunning backdrop of the disused ODEON cinema theatre. I was also hugely impressed by The Mole who played a 2-hour set in Tolhuistuin cultural centre.
All this happened within the confines of Amsterdam, a dainty city whose charm is undeniable. I couldn’t help thinking that an event of this kind and scale would have had a hard time functioning so efficiently anywhere else other than the Dutch capital. The capacity to host such an event comes in many forms. The Dutch not only tolerate and accept dance music culture, they embrace it and actively pursue it and this can be seen in the quality of the venues, the state of the underground scene and the healthy amount of Dutch talent that it is always present.
I imagine with next year marking 20 years of ADE, the organisers will pull out all the stops.
See my review of VBX x SlapFunk x Natives ADE showcase on MEOKO here.