Live Report: Amsterdam Dance Event 2019

Live Report: Amsterdam Dance Event 2019

Viewed through the prism of Ballantine’s True Music Series...

Hearing the mighty roar of the Scouse, chanting some half-forgotten football lyrics amongst Holland’s beautiful landscapes, it’s hard to remember whether you’re still back in your local Spoons tanking pints with your mates. Especially when you’re sandwiched between Dutch bikes on a Dutch ferry, while everyone else is speaking Dutch. But you know – that’s just Amsterdam, right?

Crammed into every corner of Amsterdam’s narrow streets, ADE 2019 was an overblown five-day festival built and sustained by the droves of musical nomads. With a copious amount of events throughout the weekend enough to fry your brain and give you a little sense of FOMO whenever you missed a great pop-up party or your 15th favourite DJ, Amsterdam Dance Event ticks all the boxes for a go-ahead reckless weekend.

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By day, the city turned yellow and black - ADE’s familiar logo colours - arranging more balloons and flags around Amsterdam than there are back-alley coffeeshops. Behind every cheese market and packed-out bike park awaited another ADE flag, welcoming you into one of the many venues which hosted a selection of parties and events.

This year, the festival celebrated its 24th birthday with the glorious return of all things house and techno. Anyone who’s anyone in the music industry found themselves crammed into Q&A’s and panels assessing the climate of the current electronic music industry. Conferences took place in some of the city’s most grandiose halls, each filling out with casual businessmen desperately trying to discover the secret of how to get their latest signing to top the Beatport 100.

But it was the night-time events which reigned supreme – eager Dammer’s took to the clubs which hosted after-dark parties (sans the usual stoned, Red Light District wandering tourists), still recovering from day drinks and the ‘what fucking day is it today?’ mentality. For one weekend, they’re reignited with the old flame of true Amsterdam that they might have once known, before all the Brits. Sorry, Holland. 

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Paving the way for the weekend, Casual Gabberz held an almost too-French Gabba party right on the doorstep of Amsterdam University. But if this wasn’t enough to tickle your dancing boots, plenty more events (mostly involving Peggy Gou, remarkably), were set in place for the rest of the weekend. Boat parties, ‘yoga on the beat’, relaxation sessions, pop-up record shops and downright scatty day raves were all just waiting for their next ADE victims. In all, there almost seemed like too much choice.

With the fear that festival-goers might have been spread too thin over the weekend, my assumptions were proven right when I wondered right into a completely empty ‘church light show’. Ambient beats and UV lights aided the church’s mellow, lonely atmosphere in a one-man show, for what felt like my eyes only. On the contrary, many venues bulged at capacity – one of which being Ballantine’s House Event.

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The event ran as part of Ballantine’s True Music Series, bringing together artists and reiterating the importance of club culture internationally. Represented in a panel were the founders of Glasgow’s Sub Club, New York’s Output, Barcelona’s Nitsa and Beirut’s The Gärten.

Half-way through the event and way too many free Ballantine’s cocktails later, a documentary was shown to the now-tipsy audience. Detailing each of the club founder’s stories and how they all traversed multiple disparate eras of music culture, the documentary highlighted many of the themes discussed at other conferences and panels over the weekend.

True Music Series’ representative, Tom Elton, told Clash: “We want to give a stage and a voice to local artists and communities. It’s important to share these stories with the world, each one being extremely interesting and different”.

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Each riddled with their own interesting backstory, exemplifying the ultimate premise of ADE, the founders of all four clubs talked the death of nightclubs, and the birth of others. But it’s now, more than ever, that the Dutch are thriving in their musical output, genius advances in technology, festivals, and everything in between.

ADE was just a microscopic glimpse into that world for a short five days, foreseeing the next two to three years into the future of music.

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Words: Gemma Ross
Photography: Tiffany Konings and Kirsten van Santen

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