The aura of ADE, 23 years on

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Almost universally considered the most influential and important event in the electronic music industry, the Amsterdam Dance Event, known simply as ADE, is this year reaching it’s 23rd year and has incrementally increased in size and importance since 1995 and its fledgling incarnation.

From humble beginnings, ADE lofted to be more than a music festival, designed with the ambition to bring together the most vibrant, business savvy minds of the Dutch electronic music industry and collectively stimulate and nurture its music scene onto greater heights. It could be argued that the first year of ADE placed more emphasis on afternoon conferences, rather than the nightly music events. Incredibly, ADE in its first year had 30 (mostly homegrown) DJ’s in attendance and welcomed no more than 300 visitors. Without the internet to rely on, all anticipation for the two day event had been created directly by handing out flyers, while simultaneously relying on positive word of mouth.

Speaking to in 2016. Richard Zijlma one of the founding fathers of ADE said. “It was a smaller event in the beginning, niche, totally independent and it was all about pioneering. For example, there was no internet. Your flyer and mouth to mouth was your reputation. We always tried to create ADE as the ultimate platform for the dance scene.”

According to a quote from the ADE website, 2017 welcomed, “2500 artists, performing in 140 of Amsterdam’s finest music and nightlife spaces. The festival attracted 395,000 visitors from more than 90 countries, making it the world’s biggest club festival.” A stark contrast from its unassuming beginnings in 1995.

Designed to ensure everyone working in the industry had a positive platform to expand their empire, ADE’s daily conferences brought together often overlooked but nevertheless integral parts of the dance music engine. The biggest brands in the industry, such as Numark, Technics or Pioneer could each attend, discuss and develop new technologies of which would improve the turntable playing experience for DJ’s.

Technical Innovation

Love it or hate it but it’s quite possible that the inspiration for developing the beat matching mechanism used by modern DJ decks was conceived at ADE. The latest technological developments are showcased, while the opportunity to press the flesh is never as accessible or positively received as during the five day event.

Catering from festival topping headline DJ’s to producers or the ambitious beginner with dreams of stardom, ADE during its 23 year reign has offered the most comprehensive selection of classes and opportunities to promote sustainable careers in the industry across the globe. While Miami Music Week and events such as Sonar in Barcelona are more than a festival with additional seminars, they pale in comparison to the vast depth of events, conferences and meet and greets that ADE provides each year. With ADE University available for students, ADE Next for budding DJ’s and Producers and ADE Pro for business, the event aims to cater for all walks of dance industry life.

Richard Zijlma explained to “We created an ecosystem for the dance scene, providing all elements you can imagine.” He later mentions the variety of installations available at ADE saying, “we also have documentaries, photo exhibitions, visual arts, museums with dedicated programs.”

Mainstream Awareness

ADE touched the zeitgeist of public awareness in 2011, after it was announced that influential London based publication DJ Mag would be hosting its prestigious Top 100 poll outside of the UK for the first time. The No1 DJ in the world being revealed during a DJ Mag event at ADE. The magazine repeated the feat in 2012 and 2013. Before becoming the signature event at ADE in 2015, unveiling the No1 DJ(s) in front of a 35,000 strong crowd.

As the dance music industry has exploded increasingly across the last two decades, becoming a multi billion dollar industry, so has the influence and awareness of ADE. On the it predicts that ADE 2018 will have 780,000 people in attendance. Using 515 venues and a total of 403 events. Amsterdam already known as a city devoted to electronica becomes something even more impressive.

It could be suggested that the ADE night calendar is as well known in 2018 as the daily conferences, with festivals such as AMF (which hosts the DJ Mag Top 100 event), the lineup of DJ’s performing across the five day celebration is too overwhelming to break down, but includes and welcomes the increasingly sidelined genres of harder dance, as well as Hip-hop which has also begun to have an increasingly larger attendance at ADE.

Every style of music is catered for, every walk of life welcomed, for five days the entire dance music world descends on Amsterdam and ADE, and like blood through a vein, the electronic music industry pulses through the heart of the Dutch capital city.