With our Ibiza season done and dusted, Defected's Ben Lovett looks ahead to the next major occasion on the dance music calendar: the Amsterdam Dance Event.
Amsterdam and, indeed, the Netherlands has been a rapidly changing landscape where dance music is concerned over the past 12 months. In essence, the focus has shifted from clubs to festivals. Exciting new spaces have opened in the capital such as Closure on the Rozengracht and Warehouse Elementenstraat but they arrive as other, legendary venues depart. The closure of Club Trouw this January (making way for a hotel) was both sad and emblematic of the country’s wider challenges.
“The clubs are having a bit of a hard time, as there are so many festivals now in the Netherlands – really unbelievable” Gert Van Veen comments, former owner of mainstay Amsterdam club Studio 80, current organiser of popular festival brand Welcome To The Future. “At least two or three festivals take place in the Amsterdam area every weekend from May to September; the country has more festivals than any other in the world.”
This is a challenge in one sense but a huge opportunity in another. And Van Veen is keen to stress that the overall dance scene remains healthy: “There are more people than ever and I think the shift from clubs to festivals is an international trend too.” It follows, then, that this year’s Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) – a celebration of Dutch dance as much as the wider scene – is bigger than ever before.
Buma Cultuur, a non-profit organisation promoting the use of Dutch music home and abroad through its various events and activities including ADE, is confident that its annual October dance showcase will continue to expand. Buma Director Frank Helmink commented earlier this month [translated]: “As long as it remains relevant and the underlying purpose is not forgotten [it] certainly can [grow]. For us this means that we continue each year to find the right balance and continue to build ADE, which now has become an immense vehicle.”
It really has. Whilst talks continue between Buma and six different parties in terms of installing satellite editions of ADE around the world, the event has cemented its presence in Aruba in the Caribbean. Last month’s ADE Global Sessions – building upon a debut in Aruba in 2014 – offered interactive Q&As with Loco Dice and Chuckie, cultural and networking programmes, and parties. This month, 14-18 October, the main ADE celebrates 20 years and promises a spectacular line-up of daytime lectures, masterclasses, workshops, film screenings and art exhibitions, as well as its most extensive ever ‘night programme’. All kinds of event numbers have increased from 2014. Next month, Buma expects 2000 artists to attend and/or perform at ADE, 5,500 conference visitors/exhibitors, 400 visiting media and a staggering 365,000 revellers – all at over 340 individual events at over 100 clubs and venues around Amsterdam. The scale is seriously mind-boggling.
ADE General Manager Richard Zijlma told the Guardian earlier this year that the business conference side of ADE has grown particularly quickly since 2012. It is now a core focus for organisers. “It’s taken off in a way we couldn’t have imagined” Zijlma explained. And so, in a few weeks, conference attendees can look forward to a Q&A with Robert Hood (15 October, Felix Meritis), a 20th anniversary techno panel featuring Dave Clarke, Marcel Dettmann and Octave One among others (16 October, Felix Meritis), and a lecture on environmental awareness through music (part of ADE’s Green strand, encouraging clubland sustainability) by Coldcut’s Matt Black (14 October, De Brakke Grond). There are also spots for EDM juggernaut Martin Garrix (16 October, De Duif) and Hardwell (17 October, Felix Meritis), whilst ADE Next and ADE Tech return to raise awareness around technological innovation and new artistic talent.
Elsewhere ADE Beats makes its debut, offering a showcase specifically for hip-hop, bass and beats. Formerly Rotterdam Beats, the mini-festival now takes place within the main grasp of ADE and promises appearances by Ninja Tune (celebrating 25 years, 16 October, Melkweg) and Kenny ‘Dope’ Gonzalez (talking 30 years of ‘hip-hop passion’, 16 October, Melkweg).
And as for the Playground, ADE’s vibrant smorgasbord of film screenings, lectures, pop-up shops, tech previews and exhibitions, expect highlights in the shape of a temporary Kompakt record store with exclusive DJ sets (from 15 October, Oz), the global premiere of Detroit Swindle’s audio-visual collaboration with contemporary artist Nick Verstand (15 October, Compagnietheater), conversation with Jeff Mills around his special ADE project to create music in the former studio of Rembrandt (15 October, Compagnietheater), Q&As with Gui Boratto, Joris Voorn and Henrik Schwarz (16-17 October, Compagnietheater), a screening of documentary Wild Combination, based on the life and work of avant-garde disco king Arthur Russell (16 October, Volkshotel) and, finally, an exploration by Tommie Sunshine of the art that has influenced his influential discography (17 October, The School Of Life). There is much to consume and digest.
And still we haven’t contemplated the parties. In line with its daytime roster, ADE’s nocturnal calendar has diversified and expanded once again. Proceedings officially open at Panama (14 October), Carlo Lio, James Zabiela and Mauro Picotto providing the incisive tech grooves. On the same evening, soulful-house grandee Black Coffee hosts his annual ADE get-together at RADION (Atjazz, Karizma and Osunlade delivering soulful sophistication in other rooms), Crew Love regulars Soul Clap, Nick Monaco and No Regular Play hit Closure, and Detroit Swindle check in at W Hotel for Juicebox x W Hotel.
The following evening, visitors can look forward to Solomun’s Diynamic showcase at Mediahaven-Minervahaven, to Ben UFO, Pangaea and Pearson Sound joining Joy Orbison, Four Tet, Juju & Jordash and Motor City Drum Ensemble for Hessle Audio frolics at Polonceaukade, DJ Sneak ramping up ‘day one’ of Verknipt’s ADE Special at Amsterdam Studio’s, and Pan-Pot, Apollonia and Guti headlining the HYTE x Second State party at Warehouse Elementenstraat.
There’s more – Dixon and Ame at Innervisions’ De Marktkantine bash, Dgtl Presents Maya Jane Coles And Friends at NDSM Scheepsbouwloods (friends including Bonobo and Dusky), Bonobo (again...) at Ninja Tune’s maverick Melkweg-set 25th (as well as Leon Vynehall and George FitzGerald), All Gone Pete Tong at AIR, Adam Beyer’s Drumcode at Gashouder, Simian Mobile Disco and Vynehall at RADION for Elastic Artists’ showcase alongside The Factory and Habitat, and, finally, MK’s Area 10 extravaganza at Chicago Social Club – also featuring Oliver Dollar and ‘G house’ heavies Amine Edge & Dance.
There’s no less to marvel about on the Friday night, 16 October. Strictly Defected, the glorious meeting of musical minds from Defected Records and Strictly Rhythm, will be an undoubted highlight within AIR. The line-up of house talent is immense, including DJ T, Kings Of Tomorrow, Sonny Fodera, Juan Maclean, Riva Starr, Tim Deluxe, Sam Divine and Hannah Wants. The list goes on.... Elsewhere, Richie Hawtin’s ENTER is in town, commandeering Mediahaven-Minervahaven with Dubfire and Hot Since 82, whilst HYTE and FRRCs Warehouse Elementenstraat mash-up involves Ricardo Villalobos and homegrown hero Steve Rachmad.
Dgtl Presents Paradise at NDSM Scheepsbouwloods is all about Jamie Jones (of course...), Eats Everything and Davide Squillace, 909’s 5th anniversary bash at Warehouse 22 sees Jeff Mills presenting his Time Tunnel show for the first time on Dutch soil, Kerri Chandler helms MN2S’s Kaoz Theory soiree at Sugarfactory and Seth Troxler launches his DJ Kicks album with a special, all-night long house party at Closure – alas, this one is already sold out.
Into the bosom of the weekend.... 17 October and Troxler is back for CircoLoco’s ADE jamboree at Mediahaven-Minervahaven, ably supported by Apollonia, Black Coffee, The Martinez Brothers and Art Department, to name a fierce few. HYTE are also back at Warehouse Elementenstraat, this time alongside M-Plant to present Robert Hood and Chris Liebing. Verknipt’s gathering of Avotre & Our Rhythm, Moda Black and Future brings the likes of Darius Syrossian, Shadow Child, Jaymo & Andy George and Sonny Fodera to Amsterdam Studio’s, Tale Of Us and DJ Tennis attend Muziekgebouw aan t’IJ for the matter of Life And Death, Rons Trent and Morelli play a Rush Hour x L.I.E.S x Banlieue party at RADION, and Michael Mayer and Maceo Plex head Dgtl Presents Kompakt at NDSM Scheepsbouwloods.
Skream and Tom Trago hit De Overkant’s Straf Werk showcase, Squarepusher visits Paradiso for a Warp Records-Luckyme tear-up, John Talabot and Roman Flugel soundtrack Hivern Discs’ affair at De Marktkantine, and Osunlade’s seriously spiritual Yoruba imprint takes over Canvas. That still leaves tech-ier twists and turns via Awakenings at Gashouder, featuring Agoria, Joris Voorn and Green Velvet; not to mention NDSM Docklands’ Dockyard Festival headlined by Paco Osuna, Rhadoo, Surgeon and Carlo Lio.
ADE’s final evening delivers a thumping crescendo. Rejected mainstay Edwin Oosterwal unites with similarly key Dutch dance brands 100% Pure and Intacto at Dido Events for a particularly punchy finale. [EDIT: The party will now take place at Q-Factory due to pemit issues]. “It will be a true Amsterdam affair ...a special showcase” he enthuses. “The line-up includes 2000 And One, Anton Pieete, Jay Lumen, Shinedoe, myself and a special guest! Exciting times!” Does he genuinely feel ADE can guarantee such times in the years to come? Is it anywhere near its peak?
“Every year I am surprised to see ADE still growing” he ponders. “Which is a good thing as it shows dance music is more popular than ever. The only downside is that it’s getting harder and harder to organise everything in or around the [central ADE venue] Felix Meritis. So the event is getting a bit more disjointed. That all said Amsterdam is a small city so everything is still relatively close. And ADE is always a great time to be in the city. I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone from the industry...everybody is excited. There’s still a special vibe.”
But let us return to the final slew of parties. Next up must be HYTE’s tie-up with Used + Abused, Loco Dice raising the roof at Warehouse Elementenstraat next to Cajmere and Point G. De Marktkantine embraces Mano Le Tough, Moodymann graces the Myhouse x Our Society ‘do’ at RADION, Steffi and Martyn help LET celebrate five years at Closure, Nina Kraviz and Blawan support Awakenings’ Electric Deluxe spin-off at Gashouder and, last but not least, Derrick May’s Transmat stable joins Get Physical in Westerunie-Westergasterras-Westerliefde – performers here include May and M.A.N.D.Y (as one might expect), as well as Juan Atkins, Karotte and rising Ibiza-based Brit Eagles & Butterflies.
“It’s the event to combine business and pleasure” Oosterwal concludes. “ADE works very hard to keep the conference relevant with interesting panels. But there are so many great events at night too. Everybody is in town, so it’s very easy to meet people.”
“I’m always looking forward to the whole ADE week” Van Veen concurs. “My role will be mostly as a visitor this year. As we organise the indoor Welcome To The Future festival in November we thought it best to skip ADE this time. But it’s the time to catch up with international friends, see and hear a lot of great artists including our own Detroit Swindle and Steve Rachmad, and just party for five days. Amsterdam is really at its very best this week – all the clubs are full and happening as there’s an influx of over 350,000 party people from all over the world.”
And Van Veen’s sage opinion on ADE’s future? “I haven’t really seen the peak yet” he says. “The ADE still seems to grow. So many labels want to do parties that this year for the first time I’ve seen some one-off parties announced. These are on top of the hundreds of parties that are part of the official program.”
One of dance music’s biggest ever spectacles is nearly upon us....
Words: Ben Lovett
The Strictly Defected ADE Showcase takes place at AIR, Amsterdam Friday 17 October - full line-up and tickets