To witness inversion of the underground at its most ingenious, house and techno listeners need not look further than an elrow event.
Long associated with the dimly lit dance floors of dark clubs, underground sound goes open air under the oversight of elrow, a family-founded party brand that dates back to 1870. As attendees of previous elrow events know and know well, the secret to elrow’s longevity in entertainment circles is no secret at all, but a perceptible emphasis on crowd immersion, specifically in a vibrantly colored, visually transfixing environment that engages audience members in a way that is entirely unique to elrow, and largely anomalous in the current context of electronic event production.
Photo Credit: Pablo Dass, Alex Caballero & Andrei Oprescu
Crowd interactivity takes center stage at an elrow event, where the performative nature of elrow’s production places stilt-walkers and puppeteers among those in the crowd, creating a constant and blissfully chaotic sense of activity that keeps pace with the live music.
An avant-garde entity in the electronic event market, elrow derives much of its influence in the increasingly popular trend of experiential nightclubbing from its deemphasis on the music as the primary point of focus, and its redirection of that attention to the thematics of event production. In addition to actors interspersed among the audience, elrow amplifies the affective quality of its high energy events with ornate stages tailored to the given event theme, massive inflatable decorations displayed throughout elrow’s often outdoor venues, and large confetti canons that provide the climax of an elrow affair, enveloping the crowd in brilliantly hued clouds of paper, the confetti drops occurring in sync with DJs’ beat drops.
Photo Credit: Pablo Dass, Alex Caballero & Andrei Oprescu
“elrow is an immersive experience and I believe that’s what sets us apart. We don’t only focus on front of stage decorations, there’s always something happening around you, the decorations are all around you, floor actors walk around, stilt walkers, confetti showers“
–Victor de la Serna
Photo Credit: Pablo Dass, Alex Caballero & Andrei Oprescu
elrow’s maturity from a weekly, Barcelona based party series to White Island resident, and currently, to one of the most widely acclaimed party brands in the world–elrow has hosted more than 132 shows across 33 countries in 2018 thus far–evidences the allure of elrow, a name that signifies a larger than life electronic experience quite unlike any other.
elrow will bring its unparalleled production to New York City for the second time in 2018 come July 28, where the brand will follow its initial April appearance–elrow: The Residency Begins–with a 10 hour fiesta at the Brooklyn Mirage for Elrow Open Air. Those interested in attending the Elrow festivities can purchase tickets to Elrow Open Air, here.
Dancing Astronaut caught up with elrow’s Music Director, Victor de la Serna, to get a closer look at the psychology of planning the international party series ahead of Elrow Open Air.
Dancing Astronaut: Being that you’ve been with elrow since the beginning, involved in the booking for each event/residency branded with the elrow name, I’d love to hear how you’ve approached booking strategy wise/curatively for the theme of the current residency, “Nomads, New World.” Can you talk a little bit about what you take into consideration when booking with this theme in mind? I’m curious to know what “Nomads, New World” means to you, and how it affects how you book the artists who play the events, with this “Nomads, New World” concept in mind. Those familiar with elrow productions know that concept is crucial to how elrow envisions the given event, so thinking a little bit about concept in relation to booking strategy seems like a great place to start.
Victor de la Serna: I wish we could cater the DJ line up to the theme, but that, for the moment, is not possible I’m afraid… I always try to find DJs that are the right fit for the party, which means fun, uplifting music. We stay away from darkness and look for house and tech house as well as some techno DJs more on the funk side of things. However, in an ideal world where I would book artists according to the theme, in this case I would only program up and coming DJs. A very risky move for any promoter but, if we are looking for the new world, that’s what I would need. If we look at the Nomads part it would be far easier as all DJs could be considered Nomads with the amount of traveling they do.
Dancing Astronaut: Does your booking approach vary at all when it comes to lineup cultivation in the states? This is another question that ties in well with the “New World” branch of the thematic concept here. If so, in what ways does your booking method differ?
Victor de la Serna: You need to have a deep knowledge of your party and have a clear idea of what works and what doesn’t in each country and city. Each place has a different story and maybe a DJ that works great in Barcelona or Ibiza has never even played New York, so as a booker it comes the time where you can always go for the well established artists or try and bring someone that you know will work with the vibe of the party but might have never played that city before. The good thing about elrow is that even though the themes change, the vibe of the party doesn’t, so we are always looking for that kind of sound we know works well with the style of the party.
Dancing Astronaut: Given your experience with booking, and with Elrow, one of the most successful parties in the whole world, what do you consider to be absolutely essential when it comes to booking events/residencies that will flourish?
Victor de la Serna: When it comes to bookings we always come back to fun, energetic music. When it comes to events there should always be a strategy. You need to find a city where you can grow into a big format event, a residency or part of a bigger strategy within the country. Doing events for the sake of just doing events doesn’t really take you anywhere in the long run.
Dancing Astronaut: As Juan Arnau Sr. states in Elrow’s recently released mini-doc, “When you manage to make the audience the main show, then you’ve achieved success.” Actors and stilt walkers are evidently important to making Elrow audiences “the main show.” In your opinion, how else does Elrow strive to make the audience “the main show,” so to speak, and how does this set Elrow apart from other party entities?
Victor de la Serna: elrow is an immersive experience and I believe that’s what sets us apart. We don’t only focus on front of stage decorations, there’s always something happening around you, the decorations are all around you, floor actors walk around, stilt walkers, confetti showers, etc… so this is very different from a regular club night where all the focus has been put on the DJ. With each party we try to better ourselves and improve this experience, so two elrow parties won’t be 100% the same!
Dancing Astronaut: So to narrow our focus, elrow came to New York in April for its beginning event of 2018 at Avant Gardner. elrow is no stranger to New York City, yet when it comes to this year, these curated events, what specifically has elrow sought to bring to New York City this year that it might not have brought in its previous visitations?
Victor de la Serna: Every party we have done in NYC has been a totally different theme and we will carry on like this. The time we bring back a theme to New York will be because that theme has been changed, which happens every year. Each year we take out a couple of decorations, premiere a couple of new ones and refurbish and change all the existing ones. If you think about it, it works, as either you have not seen the theme before or it might be one of your favourites. We see that a lot of people also come back as they love the theme, so we just try and balance everything 🙂
Video Credit: Billboard
Ibiza’s International Music Summit (IMS) announced the final speaker details for its 11th annual conference, set to take place just as the White Isle’s season kicks off, May 23–25th. Now, in association with Pioneer DJ, IMS brings together over 93 impressive voices from around the world. Twenty-three global artists and industry heavy-weights will bring further insight to the summit, covering every aspect of the diverse and ever-changing electronic music landscape.
Programming for the 2018 event will tackle mental health in the music industry, the landscape of digital media consumption, technology, and much, much more. The house music legend Todd “The God” Terry will speak for the first time at IMS for a keynote interview about his life and career in dance music, including his early years in New York. Honey Dijon will present a discussion on sexual harassment in DJ culture which in an open and frank capacity, IMS hopes to use to confront the realities of this issue in the industry and what we can all do to tackle it.
A full list of the new speakers is listed below. Delegate badges can be purchased here.
IMS Ibiza 2018 New Speakers:
Alexander Holland (Deezer, Chief Content and Product Officer, France)
Andrea Oliva (Artist, Switzerland)
B.Traits (Artist, Canada)
BLOND:ISH (Vivie-Ann Bakos) (Artist, Canada)
Christine Brown (Help Musicians UK, Director of External Affairs & Business Development, UK)
Declan McGlynn (Point Blank, Music Journalist, UK)
Freddie Fellowes (Secret Garden Party, Promoter, UK)
Honey Dijon (Artist, USA)
Jay Jay Revlon (DJ, Host and Cultural Events Curator, UK)
Jon Drape (Broadwick Live, Group Production Director, UK)
Julien Lesaicherre (Workplace by Facebook, Director EMEA, UK)
Katy Ellis (Anglo Management, Manager, UK)
Kurosh Nasseri (AFEM/Nasseric Inc, Founder/Attorney, USA)
Marina Blake (Brainchild Festival, Creative Director, UK)
Martha Pazienti Caidan (Resident Advisor, DJ/Radio Presenter/Producer, UK)
Matt Abbott (Label Worx/AFEM, CEO/Co-Founder and Exec Board, UK)
Matt Smallwood (Toolroom, Label Manager/Head of A&R, UK)
Matthew Adell (Native Instruments, Chief Digital Officer, USA)
Nick DeCosemo (Mixmag, Global Editorial Director, USA)
Pierce Warnecke (Berklee College of Music, Assistant Professor, Spain)
Rui Da Silva (Artist, Portugal)
Todd Terry (Artist, USA)
Vicenc Marti (elrow, President and Board Member, Spain)
2017 would prove to be a career defining year for Zedd, the producer dethroning his 2012 Foxes feature, “Clarity,” as his most recognizable single via the release of “Stay,” a track that would not only earn Zedd his second double platinum certification plaque, but a VMA for Best Dance Video, and a Grammy nomination to boot. Departing with his highly celebrated single and Grey in tow, Zedd hit the road on his 12-date North American Echo Tour.
Photo Credit: @zedd/Instagram
A masterpiece of modern electronic production, the Echo Tour proved to be an intricately designed venture both highly stylized and deeply experiential in nature. Reflective of Zedd’s self professed desire to engage a multitude of “…senses that come together into one experience,” the Echo Tour appealed to sight, sound, feel, and touch via visuals, color and lighting, lasers, smoke, and of course, Zedd’s musical library. Far from hesitant to lay claim to the choreographed quality of his shows, Zedd acknowledges “Every song that I’ve ever played has a specific visual that goes with the song,” but the pre-show preparation extended beyond just that—the producer also matched specific lighting and color effects to each song, rehearsing the ensembles prior to the tour’s debut. The effects that characterize the Echo Tour’s individual shows, however, are produced live, projected to the crowd in real time despite the tour’s various pre-debut run throughs.
Photo Credit: @zedd/Instagram
An exposition of Zedd’s progression as artist, performer, and production strategist, the Echo Tour contained a message that was reiterated on each show date. Those that identified Zedd as an ‘artist to watch’ back in his earliest days had their fingers firmly planted on the pulse of dance music’s future, a rhythm that has beat with increasing intensity given Zedd’s continued ascendance to electronic acclaim.
Mastermind of progressive house and music industry satire, Joel Zimmerman brought his ‘lots of shows in a row’ tour to an international audience in 2017. Kicking off at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom in March, the tour made noteworthy stops at large scale festivals and venues alike including Mysteryland, Creamfields, Red Rocks Amphitheater, Shrine Auditorium, Tomorrowland and Hï Ibiza.
Photo Credit: EDM Tunes
The crown jewel of deadmau5’s recent tour was the new and improved Cube 2.1, which boasted state-of-the-art LED screens and crystal clear, new graphics for an unparalleled visual experience. Standing at 15 feet tall and 16 feet wide, the behemoth showed comedic images of dancing cows, wonky-eyed mice, and even a tribute to the video game Rocket League among other visuals during deadmau5’s sets.
Photo Credit: EDM Tunes
Isabelle Rezazadeh’s unique breed of dark, bass-driven techno separates REZZ from her contemporaries, and her recent Mass Manipulation tour followed suit. The 22 year old “Space Mom” took her debut album worldwide in 2017, enlisting a star-studded roster of support from Blackgummy, Bleep Bloop, Crywolf, Drezo, Dr. Fresch, Electric Mantis, Eprom, Haywyre, k?d, No Mana, and more.
Hypnotic tracks like “Relax” and “Premonition” were brought to life with hauntingly psychedelic visuals, tied together by REZZ’s signature LED goggles. Mass Manipulation was indeed achieved across the Mau5trap supported tour, which made notable stops at Ultra Japan, Electric Zoo, EDC Orlando, Something Wicked among others. After selling out numerous locations along the way, it’s no wonder REZZ was recently named Billboard Dance’s “Breakout Artist of the Year.”
Photo Credit: Julian Bajsel
ODESZA’s critically acclaimed A Moment Apart journey has seen the group move between sold out stadium-sized arenas all over the country, with Sofi Tukker and Chet Porter in tow as openers. Since its inception in Spring, the ever-evolving A Moment Apart set has morphed slowly over time to include new songs from the album, live edits with a full drum line, and many unreleased surprises along the way. On a given night, it takes a team of 60 people all working relentlessly behind the scenes to put on a show of this scale.
That the tour necessitates many helping hands is hardly a surprise given the many components it’s comprised of. Among their rotating cast of live instrumentalists, ODESZA play along trombonists, trumpeters, guitarists, and a choreographed drum line. The sonic elements combine with lighting looks ranging from moody hues to glittering whites flank lasers, pyrotechnics, and smoke as the special effects that work in tandem to create the tour’s ethereal aesthetic.
Pictured: Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight of ODESZA organize the order in which songs and special effects will appear on The A Moment Apart Tour on a white board with Post-It notes denoting respective songs and effects.
Photo Credit: Julian Bajsel
Beyond the music, the standout feature of the tour is the stunning visual production, headed up by Saxton Waller, former lighting designer to STS9. With all that ODESZA has been able to accomplish this year creatively, it’s no wonder they are rumored to appear high on Coachella’s 2018 lineup
by John Flynn
Over his storied career, Richie Hawtin has become an influential part of Detroit techno’s most revered proponents. With a deep back catalog of accomplished releases under his belt and a reputation for crafting fabled live sets extempore, Hawtin has deservedly solidified his status as a global force in the genre.
Richie Hawtin’s Close tour existed at the intersection of anthropomorphic spontaneity and robotic absorption. Utilizing vantage point cameras from a multitude of angles and a plethora of live instrumentation devices including computers, mixers, and drum machines, Hawtin was able to create a fleeting, mercurial audio/visual experience in which audiences could watch — and of course listen to — momentum build in real time.
Photo Credit: Billboard
The 75-minute live audio-visual shows under the Close umbrella are expressive of what Hawtin terms his “very unique way of playing,” an approach that sees every movement that he makes captured by the live-feed cameras and projected to the audience in real-time. The absence of a table to support Hawtin’s mixers lends an additional unusual element to the Close shows, exposing Hawtin’s entire body and in turn, permitting the audience to visually follow each step of Hawtin’s musical execution.
“The very simple act of moving that table away—which is quite strange for a DJ because you’re completely open and naked to the audience—is probably the most important decision we made,” Hawtin says of the alteration. “Without that decision, there wouldn’t be the show. You have to see that human form moving and gyrating.”
The Close tour made its debut at Coachella in Indio, and made stops at Movement Festival, Melt, Primavera Sound, Pukkelpop, and Creamfields, among other banner venues.
by John Flynn
“Together we make magic happen.” That is the ethos by which Spanish production company Elrow runs their now legendary party collective. The Barcelona-based collective has hosted more than 100 shows in over 50 cities globally and hosted showcases at more than 25 festivals worldwide including Glastonbury, Disclosure’s Wildlife Festival, and Hideout, to name just a few.
Pictured: shots from Elrow’s Glastonbury showcase.
Elrow’s status as an influential party promoter dates back long before clubbing even existed, with the company’s family roots dating back to 1854. The vibrant party promoters invade the island of Ibiza each Saturday at the world renowned Space Nightclub; the shows regularly feature wild costumes, a genius array of expansive stage production, and no shortage of confetti.
Pictured: shots from Elrow’s Ibiza residency.
Since its inception in 2010, elrow has blossomed into perhaps the world’s most recognizable and popular global party brand. The Barcelona-based entertainment entity has evolved from its humble origins as a weekly party in the city into a worldwide phenomenon that will put on 132 events across the globe reaching an audience of nearly 2 million.
On Saturday, November 25 elrow will bring its bewitching spectacle to Brooklyn’s Avant Gardner. Recently, elrow made its first stateside appearance when the infamous Catalan club night took over the entire Sunday School stage at Electric Zoo this past summer.
elrow’s success stems from the richness of its pedigree. Since the 19th century, the founding family of the now globally-renowned club night has plied their trade in the entertainment industry. The decades of hard work and creativity from this long line of revelry merchants have culminated in an entertainment empire spearheaded by elrow’s Juan Arnau Lasierra and Cruz Arnau Lasierra. This brother/sister duo has secured a bright and ambitious future for their burgeoning brand, with the company employing over 80 full-time workers and planting their flag in new continents in 2017.
elrow is leading the charge in an all-the-rage style of entertainment that focuses on immersive flamboyance, massive stage and decoration production as well as an intimate connection with the party-goers. Headlining this immense experience will be Art Department, Patrick Topping, Steve Lawler, Marc Maya B2B Bastian Bux. This new wave of experiential clubbing is currently sweeping the globe and New York is set to be consumed in the confetti tidal wave.
H/T: Resident Advisor
Elrow‘s Festival took place at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London this past weekend, and the pleasant festival experience turned very sour when a tear-gas like substance was reportedly sprayed over the crowd. The substance was allegedly dispersed over the crowd during Jamie Jones‘ DJ set between 8 and 9PM local time, and festival goers say they were left coughing, unable to breath, and with burning eyes.
The substance was described as coming from the right of the stage, and security guards were unable to determine where the gas was coming from or what specifically it was. The gas has been described as similar to either pepper spray or tear gas.
Festival goers have taken to social media to question what the gas was and how it entered the festival and organizers have yet to respond.
Update: 08/21/2017 12:33 PM EDT:
An Elrow representative reached out to Dancing Astronaut to provide the following statement and clarifications for the event:
“In response to comments on social media from members of the public who attended the elrow Town London event this weekend that ‘tear gas’ was disseminated during one of the shows, we want to reassure people that this was not the case and have been provided with statements from key officials including the Metropolitan Police Service stating ‘there was no belief that any noxious substance had been discharged.’ Security Operations Managers have also confirmed “no evidence of criminal or any anti-social activity”.The onsite Medical Manager has reported that “no-one presented themselves to the medical team having suffered the effects of tear gas or any similar substances(s).”And a statement from the Incident Response Manager confirmed that “After a full investigation and thorough liaison with all partner agencies and organisations, I was unable to find any indication or information that could be gained to support the suggestion that any irritant had been released. Elrow was a safe and successful event where over 25,000 people enjoyed the spectacular over the weekend”
Investigations are ongoing as to what may have caused the the irritant effects reportedly experienced by a few customers, however these effects are not inline with symptoms caused by tear gas. Elrow organisers are available for any further comment or information for this wishing to understand more.”
The Electronic Music Awards are coming to Los Angeles on Sept. 21 for their inaugural awards show. Dubbed he EMAs, the co-produced event by Paul Oakenfold and Hunt & Crest has just released its 2017 nominations.
Winners will be chosen across 11 award categories, including “Record of the Year,” “Remix of the Year,” “Festival of the Year,” “Club of the Year,” and “Live Act of the Year.”
Album of the Year:
Justice — Woman
The Chainsmokers — Memories…Do Not Open
Cashmere Cat — 9
Tycho — Epoch
Bonobo — Migration
Gorillaz — Humanz
Single of the Year:
· Skrillex & Rick Ross – “Purple Lamborghini”
· Major Lazer ft. Justin Bieber & MØ – “Cold Water”
· The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey – “Closer”
· DJ Snake ft. Justin Bieber – “Let Me Love You”
· Porter Robinson & Madeon – “Shelter”
· Martin Garrix & Dua Lipa – “Scared To Be Lonely”
Record of the Year:
· Kidnap Kid & Lane 8 – Aba
· Kölsch – Grey
· Todd Terje – Jungelknugen (Four Tet Remix)
· Låpsley – Operator (DJ Koze Extended Disco Version)
· Rüfüs Du Sol – Innerbloom (Sasha Remix)
Remix of the Year:
· Flume – Say It (Illenium Remix)
· Portugal. The Man – Feel It Still (Medasin Remix)
· Rüfüs Du Sol– Innerbloom (Sasha Remix)
· Låpsley – Operator (DJ Koze Extended Disco Version)
· Ed Sheeran – Shape Of You (NOTD Remix)
· Ed Sheeran – Shape Of You (Major Lazer Remix)
Festival of the Year:
· EDC – Multiple Cities
· Tomorrowland – Boom
· Electric Forest – Rothbury
· Movement – Detroit
· Lightning In A Bottle – Bradley
Club of the Year:
· Berghain / Panorama Bar – Berlin
· DC-10 – Ibiza
· elrow – Barcelona
· Fabric – London
· Omnia – Las Vegas
· Output – New York
· XOYO – London
· XS – Las Vegas
Radio Show of the Year:
· Above & Beyond – Group Therapy
· Annie Mac – Annie Mac Presents
· Claude VonStroke – The Birdhouse
· Danny Howard – BBC’s Radio 1 Dance Anthems
· Diplo – Diplo & Friends
· Liquid Todd – Beta BPM
· Nicole Moudaber – In The Mood
· Pasquale Rotella – Nightowl Radio
· Pete Tong – The Essential Selection
New Artist Of The Year:
· Alison Wonderland
· Mura Masa
· San Holo
DJ of the Year:
· The Black Madonna
· Claude VonStroke
· Eric Prydz
Live Act of the Year:
· Bob Moses
· Eric Prydz
· Porter Robinson x Madeon
· Rüfüs Du Sol
Producer of the Year:
· Cashmere Cat
· Hot Since 82
· The Chainsmokers
The elrow club concept that originated in Spain and has been spreading throughout Europe ever since, has one simple defining feature: all are welcome. Presenting a spectacular twist on the traditional club show, elrow is a real sensory explosion of sight and sound. Think mega-parties of Vegas with their full of bursts of light, confetti, and sound with none of the pressure. Now, insert trapeze artists soaring through the air, eclectic props and elaborate set design, and stilt walkers towering above you.
The club has become a hit in Barcelona and Ibiza, and now elrow’s residents, Toni Varga, de la Swing, Marc Maya, and George Privatti, have just announced their debut compilation, elrow Vol. 1. The album, released through Cr2, will be a sonic representation of the soundtrack that fuels their outrageously colorful parties.
To celebrate its release, the Cr2 studio has put out a fun and forward-thinking techno track that captures elrow’s experience and encapsulates the Ibiza dance music sound. “After Party” from Di Chiara Brothers embodies everything fans have come to love about the elrow brand, with a driving beat and a series of bright snares keeping the track fresh. Fans everywhere are already preparing
Spanish dance party legends elrow are known for their ability to draw out the best underground talent for their events. In an effort to reflect and share the energy of an elrow affair, they have put together a two-CD compilation featuring mixes from their resident selectors.
Referring to the compilation as “the beginning of a landmark series,” elrow paired up with the U.K.-based label Cr2 to put the clubbing experience into the hands of the fans. Cr2 founder Marc Brown remarked:
I have been following the progression and rise of elrow since their first parties in Barcelona and Ibiza as a fan, DJ and label owner. elrow is one of the few brands that has remained true to their original concepts, creating the ultimate clubbing experience and providing forward thinking electronic music along with sensational production. I am excited to be releasing the first ever official elrow album, bringing together two family run independent businesses that are both full of passion for underground dance music.
The two disc compilation is made up by two mixes, one by Toni Varga & De La Swing and the other featuring Marc Maya & George Privatti. The result is a diverse and energetic set of mixes including tracks from Route 94, Bontan, Lee Walker, Max Chapman, and many more. This compilation helps to cement elrow as a staple in the nightlife scene, with their renowned 12 hour parties and Ibiza residency going strong. The compilation can be ordered and streamed here.
CD1 – TONI VARGA B2B DE LA SWING
1. MELÉ – SUNSHOWERS
2. DJ DEP – DESALOJADO
3. BONTAN – CONTROL
4. SIDNEY CHARLES FEAT. LADY VALE – MAKE ME MOOVE
5. COLLECTIVE MACHINE – I WANT A HOUSE KIT
6. SANTÉ & TONI VARGA – IN TIME
7. SUPERNOVA – GET HOT
8. DE LA SWING – CONNECTED
9. CAAL & BAUM – DOWNTOWN BEAT
10. ROUTE 94 – HOUSE & PRESSURE
11. MAX CHAPMAN – BODY JACK (GET MY SWERVE ON)
12. ALEXIS RAPHAEL – LOADED UP (CAAL REMIX)
13. CLOONEE – LIKE THIS
14. MIHALIS SAFRAS – PUSHIT
15. EMANUEL SATIE – COME AS YOU ARE (LUCA DONZELLI & MAR-T REMIX)
16. KI CREIGHTON & MAKANAN – TRIVIAL
CD2 – MARC MAYA B2B GEORGE PRIVATTI
1. COYU & BASTIAN BUX – SATARA
2. MARC MAYA – ALAC
3. VEERUS – ARP
4. AUDIOJACK & KEVIN KNAPP – IMPLICATIONS
5. DENNIS CRUZ – MAD
6. SCURRILOUS – THEY PLAY IT SAFE
7. LEE WALKER – BREAK THE SYSTEM
8. GEORGE PRIVATTI & EDDY M – BASILLE
9. WAITZ – BREAK
10. PAUL DAREY, CHRIS MAIN, HANNES BRUNIIC – VOICES
11. BONTAN – THE FIRST TIME
12. PABLO SAY – REENCUENTRO
13. FER BR – JACK
14. WAZE & ODYSSEY – DOWN WITH THA
15. JAMES CAMPBELL – SOLAR
Featuring 550 speakers, more than 2,200 artists in 140 venues and 1000 events across just five days, Amsterdam Dance Event has earned its stripes as the globe’s leading electronic music conference and festival. In 21 years, ADE has shaped a dance music mecca in a quaint little city that unites electronic music fans and industry folk from all corners of the world (to tune of 375,000 attendees). It’s no wonder that ADE Conference recently celebrated its 10th consecutive year of selling out, as each year, legions of fans and DJ hopefuls yearn for the chance to participate in the largest and most impressive dance music gathering in the world.
Translating our adventure into words is no easy task as the immeasurable amount of ‘hellos,’ ‘goodbyes,’ ‘nice to meet you’s’ and venue hopping across six days and five nights is impossible to document. But if there’s one takeaway from ADE, it’s this: each individuals’ experience is different, and there is no one right or wrong way to live out your story. This is ours.
Arrival in Amsterdam: Shortly after landing at Schiphol, I Uber over to Volkshotel – a quirky, boutique hotel situated in east Amsterdam that was once the headquarters of local newspaper Die Volkskrant. Welcoming yellow and black ADE flags dangle before the hotel, indicating to newcomers that the spot is deemed “official” ADE territory for the next five days. The lobby is overflowing with visitors conversing with one another and gathering their bearings as they prepare to tackle their first day on the ground. Phones charged and business cards in hand, it’s time to head out.
The Dylan and Felix Meritis, aka the ‘main hubs’: I use a combination of the Metro and Tram to get to the Felix Meritis – one of the primary ADE meeting hubs. Hundreds of industry leaders are crowded around The Dylan Hotel and the Felix – both of which reside on the Keizersgracht – to have a quick streetside chat, collect their badges and begin their first of an endless list of meetings. The line to pick up badges is unending, but no matter – the excitement is palpable, people are meeting each other for the first or tenth time, and for the first time in a year, no one is thinking about anything but ADE. Nicole Moudaber is spotted casually walking up and down the Keizersgracht while countenances brighten upon opening ADE backpacks, produced by lifestyle and sports brand Sinner. Packed inside the bag are myriad gifts and mementos, like the ADE Black Book 2016, Sena ear plugs, a ‘Celebrate Safe‘ booklet, an Ultra Music umbrella and, thoughtfully, a can of Red Bull. Some were even lucky enough to receive a pair of limited edition ADE x Urbanears DJ headphones.
*To learn more about Unity’s harm reduction initiatives, go here.
Photo by Willeke Machiels
A quick pregame session at Bar Huf: While not an official ADE venue, Bar Huf still offers first-timers an authentic Amsterdam experience. Located on a quiet street in the heart of the city, the bar contains a healthy mix of locals and tourists, while passersby migrate to neighboring restaurants and bars. At a table outside, I’m sandwiched between Andy Sherman and Dorothy Sherman, the sibling duo best known as Shermanology, as we discuss our musical interests, the city’s must-sees (like the Redlight District) and upcoming projects. Several Jager shots later, the night is still young.
Nervous Records & Risky Business pres. Kenny Dope, Benny Soto and more at the W Amsterdam: At around 12:30am, Amsterdam is an icebox. The 11 minute walk to the W Amsterdam feels longer than ever, though views of a 55 m (180-ft) ferris wheel illuminating Dam Square make the trek far more bearable. NYC-based promoter Benny Soto and Mike Nervous, President of Nervous Records, are behind the booth at the W Lounge, setting the party’s tone with a variety of tech house tracks.
Photo courtesy of Tom Doms
Celebrating the grand opening of Shelter: Overlooking Amsterdam’s bustling streets and waterfronts, A’DAM Toren was transformed into a multi-functional office tower that is now home to ID&T, Sony Music, MassiveMusic and more. Industry leaders convene at Amsterdam Tower’s The Loft in celebration of Shelter’s opening Thursday evening, which is located underground on the IJ riverbank. Boasting floor to ceiling windows and breathtaking views of the city, The Loft appeals to guests seeking a palatial experience, while downstairs, Jackmaster, Moodymann and more transform Shelter – a dark, rectangular space – into a slow-burning dance haven solely revolving around the music and its people.
Awakenings continues its 20-year celebration with five nights of techno: From Len Faki’s Figure Nacht to Adam Beyer’s Drumcode, iconic techno brand Awakenings celebrated its 20th anniversary (which occurred in April) in a big way during this year’s iteration of ADE. Five nights of hard-hitting acts effortlessly sold out the series, which again took place at Amsterdam’s famed Gashouder – a brooding, industrial venue with a capacity of 3,500.
I’m dropped off at the edge of Westerpark and instructed to simply “follow the signs.” Mildly confused, I keep an ear to the ground and, from several hundred feet away, begin to hear thumping basslines in the distance. The music creates an imaginary trail for unsuspecting fans as they snake through the park until reaching the dome’s majestic entrance. Inside, Dense & Pika are making the floors tremble while an array of triangular LEDs assembled into a trapezoid glow a bright blue above the stage. Meanwhile, red lasers burnish the expansive room as the masses patiently await Nicole Moudaber’s arrival.
Afterlife comes to ADE: A concept hailing from Space Ibiza, Afterlife is both a label and a creative club experience tailored to the senses. By far one of the top showcases at this year’s ADE, Afterlife recruited the cream of the crop of electronic music: Dixon, Âme, Mind Against, Rødhåd and Berlin-based wunderkinds Tale of Us, to name a few. Offering cutting-edge production and raw, formidable techno, Mediahaven’s three-room setting served as the perfect fit for a brand as striking as Afterlife.
Following in the footsteps of past Afterlife events, three upside-down male figures composed of wire hang from Mediahaven’s ceiling, making the party experience feel all the more genuine. While most are packed into the main room like sardines, some are found resting in the bar area munching on late-night cheeseburgers or sitting on the alcohol-soaked floor with their friends. I don’t blame them; it’s 5am and I’m also losing steam.
Absolut returns to ADE with Beamlab Bar: In conjunction with ADE Beamlab, which is dedicated to visual technologies and high-end stage design, Absolut returned to ADE to present the Absolut Beamlab Bar at Singel 460. International visual artists including Daniel Popper, Rik Dikhoff and Rik Dikhoff speak about and showcase their work while visitors sip on cocktails courtesy of Absolut.
Maceo Plex presents the Rijksmuseum’s first-ever electronic music event: As is often the case, I’m running late. By the time I arrive at the Rijksmuseum, the bicycle passage is swarming with hundreds of lucky fans who registered and were randomly selected to attend the historic show. Maceo Plex stands tall beneath the passage’s raised arches, separated from the crowd by a barricade extending from one side of the venue to the other, as he delivers a four-hour set adjacent to the prized Dutch national museum.
On our way to Paradise: For the last three years, Hot Creations label head Jamie Jones has brought his Ibiza-based party concept, Paradise, to the frigid city of Amsterdam. As our Uber pulls into NDSM Scheepsbouwloods’ lot, hundreds of green lasers pierce through the windows of the prison-like warehouse for all on the street to marvel at. The music is booming, expectations are set, and inside Deetron is playing Area 1 while wAFF lures a considerable crowd into Area 2. NDSM is only beginning to swell as admirers wait for Jamie to take the decks well into the following morning.
Enter.Experiences: No ADE would be complete without ENTER. Taking place at Mediahaven, ENTER. presents Experiences affords electronic music fans the raw, dark and unadulterated side of the underground that they crave most when they least expect it. Yes, it’s an inimitable experience that only a man with the genius and artistry of Richie Hawtin could achieve. It’s here that people are invited to let loose and open themselves to the music. Moving is nearly impossible and it’s hard to breathe as droplets of sweat slip down patrons’ foreheads, but we keep dancing to the best of our ability.
All Day I Dream hosts inaugural party at De Hallen: For All Day I Dream veterans, the launch of All Day I Dream of Amsterdam served as one of the main ADE highlights. Sublime music from Lost Desert, Gorje Hewek & Izhevski and Lee Burridge himself permeated De Hallen – a “Centre for media, cultural, fashion, food and crafts.” Transforming the venue into a never-before-seen landscape for melodic house and techno, De Hallen is exclusive to ADID throughout the duration of ADE – making the occasion all the more intriguing. Despite taking place indoors, a wave of euphoria shimmers over fans. Magic is in the air.
Dockyard Festival returns for its third year: Tucked away deep in the industrial area of Amsterdam and overlooking the Johan van Hasselt Kanaal, NDSM Dockyard is just a short drive (or boat ride) away from the hustle and bustle of the main city. It’s about 50° outside and people (myself included) are shivering as they make their way to the third iteration of Dockyard Festival: a down-and-dirty affair that capitalizes on gritty, hard-hitting techno. Featuring the likes of Art Department, Carlo Lio and a B2B set between Dubfire and Nicole Moudaber, Dockyard is housed within five white, looming tents – each of which create individual festival experiences tailored to nearly all techno fans’ palates. Relive Dubfire and Nicole Moudaber’s set here.
#CraneSessions proves that partying is does not have to be confined to clubs or warehouses: “Are you going to the crane party?”, people begin to whisper at the crack of dawn Saturday morning. That’s right: a party inside of a crane. Crane Hotel Faralda, situated just outside of Dockyard Festival, often plays host to Amsterdam’s covert afterparties while simultaneously acting as a hotel with full amenities. It’s 8pm on Saturday, and Daley Padley, or Hot Since 82, enters The Crane’s main room where he is about to take the decks for his Knee Deep in Sound Showcase. “Does anyone have an earplug?” he asks. In spite of my deepest efforts to protect my hearing, I’m quick to pull an earplug from my left ear and hand it over. Though sounds are more intense on one side of my head than the other, I crack a smile as I get lost in the music among my 99 fellow crane-goers. Little does everyone know that Seth Troxler will make an after-party appearance right here following the conclusion of Circoloco.
Iconic underground brand Circoloco brings a hint of Ibiza to Amsterdam: It’s clear where fans’ loyalty lies, and that special place would be Ibiza. Also born out of Spain, party concept Circoloco found itself surrounded by a knowledgable sold-out crowd. Art Department, David Squillace vs Matthias Tanzmann and Seth Troxler vs The Martinez Brothers magnetized a large chunk of partygoers to Mediahaven’s cavernous warehouse drifting on the city’s edge. Countless lasers and strobes are rampantly shifting about the room, and as I shut my eyes for a split-second, I swear can almost hear the color red.
Sunday – Day 5
Elrow’s afterhours party hits capacity within two hours of opening: Afte hours aren’t a thing of the past quite yet. Fusing entertainment with amusement, Elrow steps up as the first to rise and one of the last to set on the final day of ADE. More or less, the Spanish party concept acts as the festival and conference’s guiding light – one that underscores fun, color, larger-than-life production, inflatable rafts, confetti, tubes and balloons. Truly a spectacle and a stark shift from most underground parties – which often lean dark, grungy and minimal – it might not be too great of a shock that Elrow hit capacity in less than two hours of opening its doors at 9am. The sea of revelers around me can barely contain themselves as they anticipate the beat drop, and when it does, thousands of pieces of confetti slowly sprinkle to the ground like exquisite snowflakes.
De School: Amsterdam’s De School boasts quite a story. The technical school-turned-nightclub, concert venue, restaurant and cafe acts as one of the city’s big players as the multi-function venue operates on a 24/7 schedule. “What brings you here tonight?”, a hostess asks point-blank. I’m caught off guard by her question, but silently think of the three men ahead of me were asked to leave – either due in part to reverse sexism or their lack of knowledge pertaining to tonight’s event.
“Dixon, Âme and Job Jobse,” I reply.
The trio are among the better-known acts of Sunday’s roster, though we’re warmly welcomed into the school’s former bicycle storage area by Amsterdam local Carlos Valdes‘ tech house influence. Reminiscent of a dungeon, the nightclub is dark, the aroma of nicotine pervades the room, and broken shards of glass crunch beneath my shoes. On the upper floor, tired bodies are lounging in De School’s three additional rooms and enchanting outdoor courtyard.
By the time Amsterdam Dance Event’s fifth and final day comes around, Amsterdam is unquestionably quiet. The streetside chatter, perpetual tapping of smart phone glass, and tides of black outfits have vanished, leaving Keizersgracht in a bittersweet, yet calming silence. Two exhausted men from production sit on a curb outside of the Felix after having stripped the building of its “ADE Wifi” that served as the literal lifeline for hundreds of thousands just 17 hours ago.
ADE’s signature black and yellow flags are being pulled from their posts while its pop-up Info & Ticket Center slowly disappears from Rembrandtplein, marking the farewell of its 21st temporary empire that is built a bit bigger and brighter each year.
In 21 years, Amsterdam Dance Event has gained the acceptance of its local government, inhabitants and fans across the globe, and there’s no telling what it might achieve in the next 21 as electronic music continues to mature.