Amsterdam Dance Event, affectionately known as ADE, is as short as it is long because although a 4 day festival sounds like a short walk in the park to seasoned BPM vets, for example who partied for 10 days straight, the energy and planning it takes to safely and effectively navigate the winding and cobblestone metaphorical streets of this prestigious festival takes its toll and by the time most reach the finish line, need double the days to recover. Amsterdam becomes a temporary hub for electronic music artists, industry workers, and partygoers alike and the city is very alive.
Thursday, October 18thmarked day 1, with a full 24 hours of programming including talks and parties, with notable events including Dixon and Âme all night, Diynamic. For those who survived the first night, Friday was a treat, beginning with an 8 hour Life and Death party and ending with a 10 hour Maeve Rave. Dj Tennis’ fantastical day party took place at Thiushaven, a multi-stage indoor/outdoor venue in the Western outskirts of Amsterdam, neighbours only to scrap metal yards and oil tankers. A truly unique space decorated with a circus theme, from canopied tents and sand-filled dance floors, to cotton candy and popcorn snacks and stage structures of a bizarre and unique nature, although that’s not why we came. We came for the 15 artists on the bill, which boasts names like Marvin & Guy, Red Axes, Job Jobse, Pachanga Boys, Gerd Janson, Perel and Nuno Dos Santos (to name a few, but the list really does go on). While all artists raised the bar and kept it high throughout, Pachanga Boys really took it to new heights. The happy union of Superpitcher and Rebolledo, these boys certainly set a vibe. In true Life and Death fashion we hear rumbling basslines stretched over bars and bars, blending the already seamless transitions. Whooshing treble sounds fill every far inch of the techno tent while sprinkle-shaped LED’s flicker. Sirens wailed in an eerie space, and shadowed figures played wizard behind the decks. In the hanger stage, a large tubular hanger adorned with fluorescent purple and blue lights that radiated on and off from one wall to the other, Roman Flügel played to an enthusiastic crowd.
For those still eager to party, the Maeve Rave was that night. Held at multi-functional venue Het Sieraad, a venue as big as it is grand with sky-high ceilings and a central indoor courtyard, it was an elegant rave. We heard music from Maeve boys Mano Le Tough, The Drifter and Baikal, as well as special guests Jennifer Cardini, Tijana T, map.ache, Bwana and Mattheis b2b with Oberman. The place was fairly busy from the start but people starting piling in at a greater pace during The Drifters set on the main stage, and by the time Jennifer Cardini took his place the room was at its height. In a smaller second room Baikal played to a group of dedicated fans that tore themselves away from the large main room to spend time in a more intimate one. Elbow to elbow fellow Maeve-ravers danced to the sweet sounds of driving basslines and melodic trebles, music with a little harder edge for our tortured souls. Following this Jennifer Cardini kept things moving on the main stage until Mano Le Tough took the reigns. All of us were encapsulated in darkness, touched only by the lights hanging from the ceiling, spotlights and patterned wall lights alike. As usual, he wowed us all, playing obscure and never heard before tracks as well as a few known to the scene. All the while, unbeknownst to some, Tijana T was creating some of the most memorable vibes of the night, tucked away in the second room.
After a lengthy disco nap that included all of Saturday and night, we were fresh and eager to begin 12 hours of Something Happening Somewhere (SoHaSo), and a little dash of Fiction Lab. Just a few minutes outside the city centre sits Oosterbar, a premiere venue with intimate vibes and delicious drinks. We spent our day upstairs in what seemed to be an old classroom; a room two stories high with rows of wooden desks all facing centered and down to the bottom platform, most likely the classrooms front. This was because the whole building used to be a zoology university. A handful of people gathered throughout the day to see a collection of favourite artists including Alan Ford, Bas Dobbelaer & Vand, Cleveland, Vesper Koan, Love over Entropy, Mattheis and Nadia Struiwigh. While all played well, Love over Entropy (LoE) stole the show. As diverse as he is innovative this daytime format allowed LoE to experiment with sounds, volumes and tempo. More beautiful than sheer background noise yet simplistically unobtrusive, SoHaSo lovers were treated to 60 minutes of his artistry. Perfect tonal melodies glistened atop the soaring synth melodies, meshing perfectly with the undulating sub-registered ones. If our spirits were a bit low simply from the sheer intensity of this festival, we were all uplifted after this performance.
After this daytime affair followed the SoHaSo soiree; 8 hours of music from the label’s favourite artists including the boss himself Nuno Dos Santos, Tracey, Joannes, Far Out Radio Systems and Cosmic Force, among others. Down a dark set of stairs into an even darker room was where this party was held; a perfect blank, albeit black canvas for us to enjoy the futuristic and retro sounds of the night. While all artists came to play, Nuno’s b2b with Tracey was the talk of the evening, with both DJ’s matching each other in innovation and intensity while still maintaining a functioning rise and fall, which every good set contains.
As if this wasn’t enough but in the spirit of the last night of the festival was the Closing Afterparty, a 24 hour affair that hosted both Romanian techno artists such as Barac, Dubtil and Priku, and Giegling ones including Konstantin, DJ Dustin, Edward and Vlada, among others. A two-room warehouse nestled on the waters edge with ceiling high glass walls and a canopied patio area played host to a final group of ADE guests who either came for the music or came for the party.
A truly unique musical experience, one of the great things about ADE is that everyone’s experience has the potential to be unique: with a multitude of daytime and nighttime programming in either a talking or music format, as well of hundreds of venues open for hours on end, the combinations are endless. Another is the human connection fueled by the integration of music and its scene with the city, businesses and people living and visiting it. Relationships can be made both on and off the dancefloor; the person you had coffee with one afternoon while discussing business could also be your dance partner at that 10 hour rave you went to last night; the artist you’ve admired from afar might enjoy dinner at the same restaurant you do and you two might exchange nods, and your music hunger can be filled because day or night, club event or record shop, there is always music.
Impressions by Tess Daniella