ADE is probably the biggest event in the dance music calendar. For seven days the whole of the dance music world decamps to Amsterdam to have meetings, go to industry diners, attend panels, give talks, and through about 10million parties. For someone knew to it, ADE can seem a bit overwhelming, the program alone is enough to give even the most level-headed raver a headache. So many DJs, so many clubs, so many parties. It can just get a bit too much.
This year I decided that it might simplify things to condense the whole of the conference into one easily-digested 24 hour chunk. Kicking off at 1PM Friday and ending the same time Saturday, I was going to experience all that ADE has to give. I was going to network, to self promote, to see something vaguely cultural, to party my ass off. Yes it would be an endurance test, but I was certain that a strict time constraint would push my to live my best life at ADE.
One of the trends I've noticed around ADE is the flurry of Instagram posts of DJs stood in front of the ADE flags, looking off into the middle distance, with a caption along the lines of: "ADE!! Just Landed! Playing ___, lets party![random assortment of broadly positive emojis]" In order to fully live my best life at ADE, I knew I needed to tap into the endorphin avalanche of the ADEgram.
Unfortunately Amsterdam was taking a bettering from the death throws of hurricane Ophelia, so pulling the regulation stone-faced middle-distance DJ stare proved difficult, so I decided to simply things with a classic fish-eye-double-gun-fingers pose.
Photo snapped it was time to come up with suitably industry caption.
Upload complete, captioned and hashtagged, all i had to do was sit back and watch those likes roll in. With each little heart notification I could feel myself inching closer into the dance music Aristocracy. I had landed and I was making sure everyone knew about it.
ADE isn't all about photo ops and shameless self promotion. It's also about a never-ending series of parties. A rave regime so punishing it'd make a young Bez blush. It was 2 in the afternoon and I needed to get on a dancefloor. Luckily annual day rave, MARY GO WILD, had just kicked off in the basement of San Francisco Bar. It was 2PM, there was a hurricane on and I was about to rave in a basement.
A few hours in the basement and I was ready for my next task. ADE is all about the parties, but there's also a bit of networking going on too. If I was to truly boss ADE in 24 hours, I'd need to have a meeting with an important industry type. Problem was my diary was empty, if I was going to network I'd have to go out and do it for myself. As I emerged, blinking, from the MARY GO WILD basement, I spotted a pub immediately opposite. Where better to make some sweet connects? I'd hit up the locals for some info on where the industry people hangout, but first I'd have to ingratiating myself with a few games of darts.
After a couple of near misses, the guys in the bar told me I'd be best going to the W if I wanted to meet some industry types. Scouring the room at the W's Duchess bar, it was a sea of intense looking people in all black everything. I couldn't see anyone I recognised, so I loitered near the bar for what seemed like a lifetime, until suddenly I saw him - Greek DJ Mihalis Safras! He was getting up from his table and walking towards the bathroom. This was my chance! I ran after him and cornered him at the sinks. I told him I was networking and that I was looking to get my EP signed - did he know anyone? Mihalis humoured me, but it was clear he would not be signing my imaginary EP, particularly after I asked if we could get a photo together in the mirror.
Networking achieved it was time to party! By far the hottest ticket in town was Underworld's live performance at the Rijksmuseum. The chance to see a bona fide legendary act perform live under the vaulted ceilings of a 217 year old building was too good to missed. After weaving my past an endless sea of people I finally got to within eye sight of the band. Stopping for triumphant victory photo before the final push to the front, I knew that seconds from now I'd have actual legend Karl Hyde screaming "Bon Slippy" mere inches away from my face. The night was looking up!
After Underworld it was time to kick the tempo up a notch. And nowhere on the planet kicks up notches better than Awakenings at techno temple, Gashouder. That night was a typically big one with Joris Voorn, Kölsch and slam on the decks. If you've never been to Gashouder, it's hard to put into words, and it's even harder for a journalist who's just spent 24 hours raving at ADE, but lets just say it's The Shit. Awakenings wouldn't allow cameras inside, so here's a phone snap of my photographer, Ricky, wearing disco glasses and making a friend.
This is what Awakenings looks like when photographed the disco glasses, it's also exactly what Awakenings looked like for the rest of the night.
All too soon 7AM rolls round and it's time to say goodbye to Gashouder. Stepping out into the grey Amsterdam morning, the full force of what I've signed up for dawns on me. I've got six more hours to go before I complete my mission. Phone out, Uber up, destination entered, my finger hovered over the 'Confirm Uber' button for a moment in hesitation. Eyes heavy, feet sore. No, I'm not calling it quits. HYTE it is! When make it to HYTE as they're switching over from the day to the night program, getting myself into the right queue was all my exhausted brain could handle. But once inside a warm blanket of tech house soothed me back into the party spirit. The vibes were good and a couple of hours whizzed by in no time. I could've easily seen out the remainder of the 24 in there, but there was one last place I wanted to hit up.
Somewhere out in the industrial stretches that surround Amsterdam lies Dockyard festival. The theme is kind of industrial circus, with loads of mid 90s family cars dotted around the place. It was an odd place to stumble into at lunchtime, but this represented the finish line and spirits were high. Inside one of the tents I found Eats Everything bringing the ruckus, what better way to see in the 24? Eats was so good in fact we burned straight through until Sven Vath came on the main stage some where
In fact, Eats was so good, we burned straight through until Sven Vath came on the main stage some where around hour 30.
After Dockyard I made it back to the hotel with just enough time before my flight to grab my bags and order a taxi. A dance music journalist of lesser calibre would've probably ended this article with a photo of them in bed, or pretending to be passed out somewhere funny. Not so for your dedicated rave reporter. Instead I leave you with this image. It's a picture I call "Abject Misery: Waiting For An Uber In The Rain"
Thanks ADE see you next year!