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A First Timer’s Guide To ADE

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ADE: A week that takes months of planning, but passes by in an instant.

I had originally planned to update my exploits on a daily basis but it soon became apparent that experiencing the full event and writing it up would leave me with no sleep whatsoever. Instead, I’ve wrapped up the rest of the trip in one piece. Read on and you’ll understand why it’s impossible to take it all in at once… And why YOU should start planning your trip to ADE 2016 as soon as possible.

2015 celebrated the 20th year of the Amsterdam Dance Event, and this this year marked the largest edition of the five day festival. On any given day, there could be as many as 90 events… And those are just official ADE sessions. At night, there were more than 300 parties across 80 clubs. More than 2,000 DJs and 365,000 industry professionals were in attendance, continuing ADE’s reputation as the largest electronic music gathering in the world.

The ADE ethos and reputation was palpable the second I arrived in Amsterdam. With so many people and events packed into a few days, ADE is overwhelming, inspiring, motivating and frustrating – but it’s meant to be. ADE is your chance to hustle, and leave the conference with an experience, gig, or relationship you didn’t have before.

These are some takeaways and highlights from the weekend in Amsterdam that went by too quickly.

Realizing the magic of ADE…

The serendipity of ADE is that with so much star and industry power gathered in one epicenter, you find yourself constantly at the right place, at the right time. Like when you happen to be at the Armada office for artist interviews, and get asked to do a video interview Armin van Buuren because there was a mix-up with the original host. Or when you meet up with a friend and run into the entire Monstercat gang, and joke around over drinks at an Irish pub for the next two hours. Or when the co-founder of Inspected Records happens to be next to you at an apartment hang out, and you take the next day to wander Amsterdam. These are the best moments of ADE, and you realize it couldn’t happen anywhere else.

 

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Celebrating the release of Claptone’s new album

On Thursday Claptone celebrated the release of his new album Charmer at an exclusive party at the new venue W Amsterdam. With its dark interior and maze-like set up, the theatrical vibes were a fitting scene for Claptone’s character and new album, which was just released on Different Recordings.“Industry events” can always feel a bit forced with conversation, but Claptone’s funky beats kept the party dancing well after its official end time – especially for one bloke, who seemed blissfully unaware of his surroundings as he swayed in the middle of the dancefloor.

 

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Hospitality smashed it once again

One of the best events of the week was the Hospital Records showcase Hospitality held at Paradiso, a night dedicated to drum & bass. The lineup was stacked with the likes of London Elektricity, Wrec and High Contrast, but Camo & Krooked smashed it in particular. They really know how to read and rally a crowd – mission accomplished. It was a scene out of a movie, like a electronic music meets punk rock fest broke out in a high school auditorium. The whole crowd was going mad – a rather muscular bro took to the mezzanine to test his fist-pumping balance skills, while a teenage girl ran across the balcony and tripped over a pile of chairs, engendering a chorus of cheers from the moshpit.

 

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ADE means business…

Something I kept hearing repeatedly when I asked seasoned industry professionals what they liked about ADE over other conferences, is ADE is about business. While partying is still a major element (this is the music industry after all…), they find meetings at ADE get straight down to the heart of the matter. You may only have 15 minutes with someone, so you better have your pitch nailed. If you’re an aspiring DJ, you may only have 5, and if you’re late, you’ve lost your chance. I can definitely attest the vibe was more business-oriented than US-conferences. Session seats are coveted rather than vacant; especially the ADE Music Talks series with namesake artists. I was supremely disappointed when I arrived at the session with Skrillex only minutes after it started, to find that the room was at capacity. Point for next year – arrive WAY early.

But the real relationships are built over much more

The parties are wild, the meetings are productive, but the best part of ADE is reuniting with colleagues and peers who have become friends. It’s rare for us to find ourselves in the same city, much less at the same time. ADE offers a once-a-year chance (with the exception of Miami Music Week) for anyone who works in the music industry to come together in the same place.

Witnessing the ADE debut of Axwell /\ Ingrosso

Friday of ADE, Axwell /\ Ingrosso took reign at the famous Heineken Music Hall for their ADE debut as a duo. It had been three years since the two played together in the Netherlands as Swedish House Mafia during their final tour. Since the split, it’s been a reputational combat between Axwell /\ Ingrosso and Steve Angello, but with their massive show on the Friday night, Ax and Seb may have re-established their reign. The lineup offered talent from Sharpov and Kryder, but it was the two former SHMs that stole the show – as I’m sure they intended to. They played an aggressive house set in the style we’ve always loved them for, with hauntingly stunning visuals. This preview offered a glimpse of the floor-shaking party, and what we can expect to come…

Sure, DJ Mag’s Top 100 DJ poll isn’t to everyone’s taste, but the Amsterdam Music Festival is still an incredible ADE highlight…

Everyone loves to complain about the Top 100 DJ Mag poll, without making changes to impact the outcome. There’s no need to rant about the results – most of us probably wouldn’t consider the winners to be the No. 1 DJ in the World. Nonetheless, the festival that announces the results, Amsterdam Music Festival (AMF), still acts as an unforgettable ADE climax.

Nestled at the end of ADE, AMF was a celebration to cap the week with a sold-out show. Held outside the city at the Amsterdam ArenA, it was a trek to get to, but after a week of interviews, meetings, and showcases, it was proper that we went out with a bang. Martin Garrix was undeniably a favorite on Friday night followed by former No. 1 DJ Hardwell, while Tiesto delivered a set that reminded us who the original Dutch DJ is.

 

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Like most things in life, ADE is what you make of it. If you fight through the inevitable exhaustion and frustration, and focus on the bigger picture, you can step back and realize what an incredible event it is for an entire industry to come together in one city. We share our photos on Instagram and moments on Twitter as if it’s just another day, forgetting that millions of fans can only dream of the same opportunities we are fortunate enough to call “work.”

ADE was certainly the highlight of my year so far, and I hope everyone else who attended walked away tired, but accomplished and proud knowing they were a part of shaping electronic music today.