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Amsterdam Dance Event showcases why it's among the best weekends of the year

Amsterdam Dance Event puts the clubbing experience first.

Last week in my preview for the 2017 edition of Amsterdam Dance Event I stated that "outside of the Ibiza season, ADE, is, without doubt, the best week on the whole of the electronic music calendar." One week later, I still stand by that statement. In fact, I would even say that right now Amsterdam - with its 24-hour nightclubs and booming festival scene - is head and shoulders above London, Berlin and any other city for electronic music.

Of the many reasons I say this, the main one is that Amsterdam Dance Event puts safety and the clubbing experience ahead of absolutely everything. Yes, clubs, promoters, artists, hotels and such make a huge profit over this week of the year but never are clubs oversold or drinks overpriced. Amsterdam is embracing dance music culture and giving it the freedom it needs to grow.

At the forefront of that are the local councils and governments. There was even a tribute to the mayor of Amsterdam posted by all of the city based promoters on social media. With so much political unrest elsewhere, can you imagine that happening in the U.K, the U.S or Barcelona right now?

Here's a rundown on what made ADE 2017 so incredibly good.


Amsterdam - The City

A press release sent out by ADE on Monday confirmed that "the 22nd edition of Amsterdam Dance Event was attended by a record number of 395,000 visitors. With 7,200 representatives of the worldwide electronic music industry attending the conference and people from over 90 countries, ADE has once again cemented its position as the worlds leading platform for electronic music."

Think about that for a second. According to Google, Amsterdam's current population sits at 821,752. Add 395,000 people to that population over one week; that is an increase of 40% in a very short space of time. Amsterdam is a small city compared to the likes of London or Berlin, but if that same number of people were to visit London for a music festival that covers the whole city like ADE does, the city would go into meltdown. And don't get me started on the huge police presence you would need to cover this number of events (almost 200 in 5 days).

Amsterdam excels not only in the clubbing experience but also in the tourist experience. Its architecture is incredible; the city is beautiful in Autumn with hundreds of popular museums, food spots and bars all located on the edge of the most beautiful canal-lined streets. To the naked eye, its transport system looks chaotic, but it is actually very simple to follow. Regular trams, boats and affordable rent-a-bikes make the city easy to get about. If you get stuck, Amsterdam's locals are always so friendly and approachable and the app CityMapper never lets you down.

A final mention for the crowds and workers in Amsterdam during this time. This one was my fourth visit to Amsterdam in the last three years and my third ADE. The more locals I speak to, the more I get the feeling that the people of Amsterdam and the Netherlands look forward to ADE more than any other time of the year. I mentioned earlier that over 92 different countries visited ADE this year, but three of the five parties I attended felt very local. This makes for a very different clubbing experience, one that I'm very grateful for after five summers on Ibiza and a year in London.


The Clubs + Music

Enough about the city, let's move on to what we were really there to experience. The highlights I didn't catch included a live performance from Underworld, a street party with Richie Hawtin (above, p.1 ), a back-to-back live jamming session from KiNK and Henrik Schwarz (above, p.2), Ben Klock and Dax J at Awakenings (above, p.3) and numerous sets from Maceo Plex who played four sets in four different locations. With nearly 200 events in five days, it is, of course, impossible to cover everything. Here is the best of what I saw and experienced in the clubs.

I landed in Amsterdam on Thursday morning and headed straight to De School to check out what the venue is like as a hangout spot. Since opening in 2016, De School has teamed up with Resident Advisor and a number of record labels and clubbing brands. Together they host a football tournament in the former technical school's gym with the money raised going towards helping refugees across Europe. This year the trophy went to local Amsterdam record store and clubbing brand Rush Hour, who beat the likes of RA, Mixmag and Numbers to the title. I later headed back to De School on Sunday afternoon for a Sunday evening session. More on that later.

After the tournament was over, the crew and I happened to make friends with one of my favourite producers Palm Trax. After bonding over Dekmantel after-party experiences and his recent move to London, we were invited to a private party in the city where Palm Trax and popular Dutch selector Young Marco were spinning to a select audience. What happened at this party stays in the vault.

Following on, I made my way over to Gashouder for my one visit to the daunting techno chamber before sneaking out early and setting a 7:00 alarm. My Friday morning was spent at the top of Amsterdam's A'dam Tower. With my fate totally in the hands of the crew, I originally thought I was off to see Amsterdam native Job Jobse. Instead, it turned out to be Jackmaster and Optimo who went b2b for five-hours and counting. I was not complaining.

With the music ranging from The XX - The Hold (Jamie XX remix) to mind-bending break-beat to thumping techno to Bicep's Aura, it is fair to say that this was a morning that will be long in my memory despite its being a huge blur of dropping elbows and lunges on the dance floor. It turns out that raving inside a glass tower in Amsterdam's tallest building still remains a very well-kept secret to most of those who visited ADE. Over the weekend Maceo Plex, Dixon and Job Jobse played at the top of the tower. Look out for this at ADE in 2018.

Friday then carried on without sleep to HYTE x FUSE where Ricardo Villalobos, Seth Troxler, Sonja Moonear and Ferro had the sold-out warehouse in raptures all night long. In Room 2, the crowd was a mixture of classy Europeans, London regulars and familiar Ibiza heads as FUSE continued to showcase why it is one of the leading parties on the scene right now.

Rich NxT put together arguably the set of the night on warm-up before Seb Zito brought a mixture of dub and UK garage. After this, it's a bit of a haze with flicking memories of Archie Hamilton, Rossko and Enzo Siragusa creating a party atmosphere underneath the most incredible light show. Little clap for Chris Lights and all the other light technicians around the world who continue to take electronic music events to new levels. Hashtag unsung heroes.

On Saturday and Sunday, ADE got totally out of hand. Those who were at BRET for the VBX after-party with residents Makcim and Reiss and guests SIT and Jan Krueger know all about the magic that was created within those red shipping containers. Still a week on, I struggle to put words on how good that party was. The afters began at 7:00 and went on well into the afternoon/evening with word on the street saying it continued to 19:00.

The party didn't stop there. VBX hosted a night event at Shelter (underneath A'dam Tower) in one of the best venues I have ever set foot in. VBX resident Ferro, who is an absolute machine at ADE, warmed up the crowd perfectly before Romanian duo Praslesh (Raresh & Praslea) put together one of the best sets I've ever seen in my life. The duo weaved their way through their trademark groovy minimal house sound for four hours, underneath a haze of intimate red lighting and palm trees. Everywhere you looked there were smiles on people's faces with whistles being heard from all corners of the dance floor.

When we left the venue in the early morning Amsterdam sun, the party was still going in full flow. We woke up in the afternoon and Ferro was back on the decks at 13:00 playing to a packed out Shelter dance floor. We honestly have absolutely no idea what time this one ended...

Fast forward to 17:00 on Sunday afternoon. You would think we would be ready to curl up in a ball and call it a day. Not a chance. With De School hosting a 62-hour non-stop rave that began at midnight on Friday and ending at 6 am on Monday it would be rude not to queue up in the rain for one final dance.

The line-up consisted of mainly De School residents but there were special guests. Nina Kraviz was given the peak time Sunday-evening slot in the Basement and quite honestly had it not been for the genius of Praslesh earlier in the weekend this would have easily won set of the weekend. Nina's three-hour set flew by with a relentless mix of acid and techno blowing the minds of what by this put was a very local crowd. Nina ended her set with what can only be described as dub meets break-beat. Mind blown.

Amsterdam Dance Event in 2017 was a blur of carnage and emotions: serious highs, unrepeatable stories and some of the best music I've ever heard in my life. Until next year Amsterdam, you naughty little minx you.

All photography provided by Amsterdam Dance Event Press team. For credit, please ask.


P.S. - If you haven't watched this yet, Pioneer DJ Sounds launched a brand new documentary at ADE on DJs, touring and mental health featuring Carl Cox, Luciano and Seth Troxler. We recommend anybody who is a true dance music fan and has suffered from anxiety, stress or mental health issues to give this a watch.

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