5 things we learned at this year’s Amsterdam Dance Event

Even though summer is so close we can practically smell it, we’ve been in such dire need of a festival fix we couldn’t help but want to see what all the fuss surrounding Amsterdam Dance Event, held October 18-22, is all about.

When a festival has been running for 22 years and draws a record crowd of 395,000 people with practically every top dance music artist you could name on the line-up, it’s easy to suffer from pangs of FOMO. The desire to blow the savings and max out the credit card with a last minute return flight to Amsterdam was just far too tempting. So in the name of ‘techno’, we decided to do just that — here’s what we learned at ADE 2017.

#1 Zombie Nation’s Kernkraft 400 still stands the test of time

Especially when Kölsch and Joris Voorn decide to drop the retro hit that took 1999 dancefloors by storm during a back-to-back open-close set. Yes the crowd went wild, yes we got a tad excited too.

Hot off his mind blowing Eiffel Tower live stream and latest album release 1989, Kölsch proved why he’s an artist at the top of his game and that he really can play anything, especially when he teams up with Dutch legend Joris Voorn. What a party!

#2 The venues at ADE are as impressive as the festival line-up

Paradiso is arguably Amsterdam’s most famous venue built out of an 18th century church. Complete with large Gothic style glass windows, the club plays host to some of the best parties in town including the ADE Sunday night closing party with Louie Vega, Francois K and Joey Negro. This place is a must stop on any raver’s Amsterdam agenda.

Venues like De School boast more than just a 24-hour license but also all the amenities you’d expect to find in a former technical school including a gym, restaurant, café, exhibition and concert space. Packed practically every minute of ADE, this was one of the harder venues to get into, but well worth the reward once inside.

NDSM Scheepsbouwloods set in a former ship building yard is one of the largest club spaces we’ve ever seen – holy smokes it’s HUGE! Featuring sky high ceilings and an interior that appears to have barely been touched since 1946, the space has subtly been converted into an epic state of the art nightlife venue. Taking over the ginormous space on the Saturday night, Michael Mayers’ Kompakt Records’ sold out party was one for the books with Patrice Bäumel, Pachanga Boys and plenty more talented tastemakers taking to the decks.

And more to the point, where else but Amsterdam can you go and see one of the biggest dance music acts on the planet such as Underworld play for free in the world class Rijksmuseum?

#3 You can do ADE on a budget

Flying from Australia to Europe is never cheap, even when you get a cracking deal, but some of the best times at ADE can be had for free.

Yes, the $684 AUD festival and conference pass is indeed pricey, but consider buying single event tickets or hitting up any number of the free events taking place throughout the city. From record stores to cosy corner bars and markets, many of them are putting on some pretty awesome parties with top-notch line-ups and often free booze or well-priced happy hours.

Some of our favourite ADE moments were spent checking out Job Jobse throw down disco in a tiny record store, or Something Happening Somewhere label head Nuno Dos Santos playing alongside talented Dutch producer Love Over Entropy to a crowd of 30 in a local Amsterdam bar.

This is also probably the best chance you have of getting up close and personal with your favorite acts like, say, Richie Hawtin — who, believe it or not, played a totally casual free pop-up gig at the Nieuwmarkt market on opening night.

#4 The Amsterdam clubbing scene is giving Berlin a run for its money

Not sure if it’s just us, but when we can walk up to a club and the door person actually cracks a smile, we get a bit weak at the knees. After being thrown shade and attitude one too many times at the door of famous Berlin clubs like Berghain or Ritter Butze, it’s nice to be treated like a human for once.

Yes, a night out in Amsterdam is more expensive than its German competitor, but the quality of venues and party lineups that the city is producing is impressive to say the least. Watch out Berlin, Amsterdam is calling.

#5 Aussies are getting the love they deserve

When Steve Ward brought his Chameleon Recordings to ADE in 2014, Australia arrived in Amsterdam with a bang. Leading the way of the Aussie underground sound in 2017, DJs like Tornado Wallace (aka Lewie Day) and Defected Records’ Sonny Fodera are helping put Australia firmly on the underground dance music map.

With so many rising stars hailing from the land Down Under like HAAi, Harvey Sutherland and Dreems making a name for themselves overseas (note: they didn’t play ADE but we’re gunning for them for next year!), we are beyond excited to see Aussie talent getting the recognition it deserves.

This year at ADE there were 15 Australian artists on the official lineup and we’d love more than anything to see this double in 2018.

Isabel Thomson-Officer is a freelance writer. She is on Twitter.

Article image by Max Kneefel