For some, the Amsterdam Dance Event (or ADE) is the ultimate party-palooza of the year, with 2014 boasting over 400 parties at 125 venues over ADE’s five-day span from Oct. 14 – 19. For others, ADE is an opportunity to network face-to-face with the industry folk you’ve been emailing across national boundaries and oceans for years, and to listen to some of the top people in dance music discuss the latest trends and technologies. 2014 played host to 5,200 of those patrons–scrappy dance music enthusiasts, many of whom booked themselves back-to-back meetings for three or four days straight. Still for others, ADE is the place to put your music on the chopping block. Dozens of production sessions and demo pitches line the ADE calendar, playing host to the over 2,000 artists in attendance who are there to either give or receive feedback on their artistic works. From casual fan to diehard enthusiast, there is a little something for everyone at the Amsterdam Dance Event.
With a total attendance of over 350,000 people from 85 countries, 2014 was one of ADE’s strongest years yet. Winds of change were in the air as well–the EDM honeymoon phase seemed to be over, and many were looking for the next sound or the newest technology to get a leg up on 2015 and beyond. The bulk of the industry folk had grown quite tired of the “EDM” mainstage style, indicating the general public is likely soon to follow. Those who worked the hardest tirelessly networked with anyone who would listen long enough at the central conference locations known as the Felix Meritis and the Dylan Hotel, eager to encounter something fresh and game-changing.
When it came time to play, the attendees played their hearts out. Venues like Trouw, Gashouder, Hyte, and Melkweg were packed to the brim night after night with some of the biggest talents in electronic music. Personal favorites included Armada Night at Heineken Music Hall, which saw a rare performance by Armin-Rank 1 duo Gaia, and Ricardo Villalobos at Hyte, a raw, sweaty affair that defined the word “rave.”
If you’ve been on the fence about taking the plunge and attending ADE, I have one word for you: Go. It is hands down my favorite electronic music event of the year, and anyone who has any interest in the genre is sure to have an eye-opening experience in the heartland of Europe’s dance music scene. It is especially valuable to industry workers outside of Europe who don’t get to meet with many of their European counterparts often. Nothing beats a face-to-face connection. And nothing beats a face-to-face connection at a 6am rave in a warehouse on the outskirts of the city.