November 20, 2023

It’s been a month on from the annual pilgrimage of the dance music industry to the Dutch capital, so it calls for time of reflection. ADE, one of the pinnacles in the calendar for many of those in the dance music industry, located in a welcoming city well known for a few unique touristy traits, is a week-long festival of all things electronic music. So, after such a great experience on my first trip over in 2019, I decided at the last minute to get myself back to Amsterdam for a couple of days and see what was cracking at this year’s gathering.

Having hosted the Amsterdam Dance Event consecutively since 1996, the city welcomes half a million people to the conference and event festival across 5 days of panels, club nights, workshops, A&R sessions, mixers and more. This entail requires nearly 3,000 artists to perform at over 1,000 events, across over 200 venues throughout the capital, as well as all types of industry professionals and technicians to keep the speakers pumping, lights blaring and chins wagging about anything from sustainable tour management practise to the comeback of vinyl, or the ever-growing impact and influence of AI technology in music creation and curation.

As a solo travelling fresh-faced DJ back in 2019, my first trip to the holy land was entirely different to this year’s adventure. At the outset of rebuilding my DJ career post-university, I headed out alone, with the hope of sprouting new connections in the scene to further my career, as well as develop my knowledge of all things dance music from the ADE Pro pass conferences. Whilst my solitary trip was detrimental to the number of contacts I had in the industry at the time, the ADE conferences organised across the week were an incredible crash course into the electronic dance music industry, and a way to meet a bunch of like-minded and passionate people. Yet, when the sun begins to fall the city soundscape comes alive with the energy of hundreds of parties throughout the city, with a notable takeover that week of the Amsterdam Centraal train station by Patrick Topping’s Trick records.

This year however, I took a different approach, and headed to Amsterdam this time without a conference pass, or much of a plan other than catching up with some mates and seeing where the city took me! With only a ticket for a magical performance of Atrak’s B2B with Magician at Chin Chin club on the Thursday in my e-wallet, I jumped on the environmentally friendly Eurostar from St Pancras to Amsterdam Centraal, but sadly this time Patrick Topping was nowhere to be seen. Instead, I spent the next few days heading to various meetups and events throughout the city, from Defected mixers to coffee shop catch ups, and a big motive to dance somewhere in the evening. With thousands of DJs shelling it out across the city, from sweaty basements B2B’s to Solomun’s 5-hour set at the Ziggo Dome for Awakenings, ADE 2023 was another excellent experience across the board.

After a couple of excellent trips to Amsterdam Dance Event now in the bag, I’d say there’s no correct way to do it at all. ADE emulates what’s best about dance music culture, from passion and innovation to diversity and inclusion. The best in the business bring their A-game throughout the week. With events organised by huge names the likes of Drumcode, to independent local labels, on top of conferences and panels presented by the likes of Warner Music, or Defected’s head of Inclusion, HE.SHE.THEY, a trip over to the Dutch capital for the biggest gathering of electronic music professionals should be recommended to anyone with a passion for the music, and an in-date passport. At its 28th instalment, ADE is larger, more influential, diverse, and pioneering than ever, so long may it continue.

See you next year?

Words by Connor Dawson (Onncor)

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