Amsterdam Dance Event is an absolute must for anyone in the festival industry. Over the course of five days, 350,000 people descend on the Dutch capital to do business and party, and the event’s influence on the dance music and festival industry can be felt across the world. Now in its 22nd year, ADE has become an important calendar point, and much of the meetings and conversations revolve around the evolution and increasing professionalism of the industry.
These are five reasons why this behemoth of the dance industry should be on everyone’s calendar for 2018.
The Sheer Scale
The decentralized festival is spread across the entire city of Amsterdam, completely changing the dynamic of the city center and hijacking the programming of more than 120 clubs from Wednesday to Sunday. The DeLaMar Theatre near Leidseplein Square acts as the nucleus for the conference and panels, but ADE has relationships with venue owners in far-flung corners of the city. It’s certainly advised that you dive right in and rent a bike to get around because you can fully experience both the city and the overwhelming scale of the event.
Casual and Not-So-Casual Networking
ADE is where the global dance music industry comes together to recap the 2017 festival and Ibiza season, and to lay plans for 2018. The result is a dizzying array of networking drinks hosted by brands, tech companies, and festival vendors, and wall-to-wall meetings for the first few days. It’s can be exhausting, but in terms of getting work done and meeting people, it’s unrivaled.
Everyone is in business mode and tends to skip the pleasantries and get straight to the point, and even when you’re cutting the rug in the clubs you are surrounded by people within your industry who are all in town for the same reason.
Every single genre and subgenre of electronic music is heavily represented at ADE over the five days, and there truly is something for anyone. With now iconic venues like De School, Gashouder, Shelter, NDSM, Melkweg and Paradiso all opening their doors, and just about every DJ in the world in town to work and play, the lineup is huge.
But if you’re coming to Amsterdam to learn, there is a very strong series of panels that are booked with both informing and educating, as well we furthering the culture of electronic music in mind. We particularly enjoyed the ADE Green track at the DeLaMar, which covered a broad range of topics relating to the health and sustainability of the dance music scene.
An event on this scale wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the Amsterdam city government’s willingness to work with the organizers. ADE has contributed a lot to Amsterdam’s fresh identity as a nightlife and club culture hub, and the city has made this an integral part of its brand. All across the canal bridges, there are yellow and black ADE signs, and the festival even has a brand presence at Schipol airport. With its estimated €65 million annual contribution to the city’s economy, it’s easy to see why it gets the red carpet rolled out.
Just a few weeks ago, Amsterdam’s beloved mayor Eberhard van der Laan died of lung cancer, and the festival paid tribute to a government figure with which they enjoyed a very strong relationship. Mayor van der Laan was very attuned to the positive impact that ADE has on the city and its unlikely that it would have seen this level of growth without the city officials in its corner.
There probably isn’t a more suitable location for an event like this in the world. With so many venues, ease of transit (rent a bike!), a tolerant city government, and widespread fluency in English, Amsterdam is uniquely positioned to handle 350,000 people coming to party.
It’s very easy to fall in love with a place that is fast making this culture a strong part of its international identity, and the Dutch people themselves are always extremely friendly and quite often proud that so many people come to their city and enjoy themselves. Plus the weather this year was outstanding!