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Photos courtesy of Dick Renning, Piet van Strijp, Coenvan Tartwijk, Mark Richter
Now 23 years in the running, Amsterdam Dance Event has grown to be one of the most prolific occasions in the world. Garnering over 400,000 visitors from more than 100 countries and upwards of 1000 events across five days, ADE is unlike any electronic music festival-conference hybrid out there.
200 venues. 2500 performing artists. 600 speakers. These are just a few of 2018’s key statistics that demonstrate why ADE is a leader in the music business.
It’s this command for curation that makes ADE’s programming unparalleled; from ethereal sound experiences to keynote interviews with the CEO and Founder of Ushuaïa Ibiza, ADE’s scope knows no bounds. And it’s not always about music, either. With its finger on the pulse of society at large, the seminal event also traverses pressing topics such as the future of food, sexism in the age of social media, and cyber security, to name a few.
Staying Organized at ADE
ADE’s gargantuan festival and conference schedule can be overwhelming for most, particularly first-timers. Its day-into-night programming runs 24 hours per day for five consecutive days, and it’s easy to get lost in the countless panels, parties and networking opportunities. In other words, attendees that don’t pace themselves will burn out much sooner than the rest.
Insight: It is impossible to do and see all that ADE has to offer, and you do not have to be at every event that catches your eye. Mapping out a day-by-day plan in advance – even if tentative – will help you stay organized. Add each of your events to your Google Calendar, with the knowledge that your schedule will undergo last-minute changes. And if you’re setting up a meeting with a potential client, be sure to take down their phone number ahead of time so that you can easily find one another.
Be open to impromptu meetings and getting sidetracked. Not having a plan isn’t always a bad thing.
ADE by Day
ADE’s daytime programming often gets lost in the shuffle as attendees look to the event’s sweeping nighttime roster as its biggest draw. Yet those looking to learn, network or potentially strike a deal look to ADE by day as one of the most valuable opportunities of the year.
Insight: While ADE capitalizes on its rich catalog of parties and showcases, the event’s reputation is also largely rooted in its masterclasses, keynotes and art exhibits. On one end of the city, dozens of DJs around the world are spinning at renowned record store Rush Hour, while on the other, Spinnin’ Academy is building an all-star team of budding DJs and producers. Meanwhile, local artist Dadara is exhibiting his gallery, Life Inside a Pixel, at KochxBos Gallery. It’s evident that the team behind ADE not only had the aspiring producer in mind, but also the artistically inclined and the audiophiles.
Make time to take advantage of ADE by day’s limitless offerings – even if that means calling it an early night. A considerable amount of time and thought are put into constructing the conference, as each year themes shift in accordance with what’s trending in dance music, technology and culture. By far one of the most memorable moments was ADE’s Sound Experience at The Conscious Club, which coupled the best of slow, tribal beats with live instruments including a flute, violin, harp, contrabass and hand drum.
Getting around Amsterdam
Public transportation plays a key role in planning around a hectic ADE schedule. Both the metro (underground) and trams (above ground) are clean, efficient and highly accessible. Oftentimes, public transportation serves as a faster (and cheaper) alternative to Uber.
Insight: Purchase a 6-day metro pass, which is accepted on the metro (underground), tram (above ground) and bus. For about $36, both the metro and trams can quickly transport attendees to nearly any ADE-marked venue. Once you’re in the city, walking from venue to venue shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes, though several trams run from one end of the U-shaped city to the other.
Note: the metro and trams stop running at midnight. However, if you’re heading to venues across the river like A’Dam Tower, Shelter or NDSM-werf, the ferries from Centraal Station run 24 hours per day and are free.
ADE by Night
Though some see ADE as a prime networking opportunity, others view the festival as a chance to discover new music and attend some of the best parties in the world. Representing everyone from Hardwell to Maceo Plex to Mano le Tough, it’s hard to not find a showcase worth checking out.
Insight: This year, many ADE pass holders found themselves disappointed when they were denied entry to their party of choice due to capacity. While some venues chose to enforce a “one in, one out” policy, others capped their events completely. If there is a party you absolutely must attend, arrive at least 30 minutes before doors open – especially if your preferred party is sold out or at risk of drawing a big crowd. Purchasing a ticket isn’t a bad idea either, as only a certain number of delegates are admitted into each party before all remaining spots go to ticket holders. Unused tickets can always be sold safely on Ticketswap.
Open-mindedness is also handy here. Consider seeing artists that you’ve never heard of, or opt to check out some of Amsterdam’s most famed venues like Gashouder, Chicago Social Club, De School or Shelter. Curiosity can go a long way, and you might just find some new musicians to include in your next Spotify playlist.
Soaking in the sounds (and sights)
It would be remiss to not see Amsterdam’s myriad landmarks like the Rijksmuseum, Anne Frank Museum, Van Gogh Museum, Vondelpark and Dam Square, to name a few. And if you’re lucky, ADE might just be hosting a party at one of the city’s top destinations: in 2016, Maceo Plex became the first electronic artist to perform at the Rijksmusem’s iconic bicycle passage.
Insight: ADE wouldn’t be the same without its surrounding environment, and paying respect to its city is equally as important as the festival itself. There’s no place in the world quite like Amsterdam – a city rich with history, shimmering canals, artistic heritage and fine cheese shops. Set aside some time to see Amsterdam outside of the party setting, and act like a local. Rent a bike and see the city through the eyes of the Dutch. Sample a cone of Belgian fries, or make a new friend with a Soho House membership who will take you to the newly opened House as their guest. Who knows – you might even stumble upon Honey Dijon spinning in the lounge.