It’s no rare sight to see both legendary veterans like Paul Oakenfold and Carl Cox and young stars like Hardwell and Nicky Romero mingling in the varied hotels and venues that make up the conference campus – it’s a true industry event, and they expect to be approached.
Founded in 1996 as a modest three-day gathering, the Dutch event has blossomed into a multifaceted five-day extravaganza that featured 2,289 artists, 510 speakers and more than 1,000 events this year. Combined attendance between the 20th anniversary event’s Festival, Playground and Conference events was estimated at more than 365,000 visitors over five days.
Billboard takes you back to the canal-strewn streets of Amsterdam to recount just five of many reasons why ADE is a must-experience event.
1. The ADE DJ Cook-Off
Each year at ADE, the most culinary-inclined artists face off in the kitchen to share their signature dishes with an expert panel of judges -- which included three-time champion Seth Troxler, Paul Oakenfold and Dave Clarke this year.
Plenty of high-profile ADE speakers and delegates attended the feast as well, including conference and radio curator Jonty Skruff, Bridges for Music founder Valentino Barrioseta and Shailendra Singh, founder of India's Sunburn Festival, whose son Shaan played at Armada's showcase that evening.
Asked whether he’d ever return to the kitchen to defend his threepeat, Troxler laughed and shook his head. “I’m judging the competition from now on! After the threepeat, I told them no more. I’m walking off gracefully.”
Troxler’s Michael Jordan move left the door open for Kölsch to play Hakeem Olajuwon. Despite fierce competition from Carl Cox’s West Indies spiced minestrone soup and Joseph Capriati’s Naples-inspired pasta, the Danish artist claimed his second straight victory this year with a pork belly in Indonesian barbecue sauce, blackened Jerusalem artichoke puree, and pickled apples, cabbage and onion with koriander emulsion and oil.
Seth Troxler Teams Up With Amsterdam Dance Event to Serve Food to the Homeless
2. Everything's better on a canal boat
Dutch trance icon Armin van Buuren treated a handful of media representatives to a canal boat ride and an early sneak peek of his forthcoming album Embrace Standing behind the decks and striking signature Jesus poses, the affable artist walked us through each of the album tracks, finishing on a mellow and accessible note with “Looking for Your Name (feat. Gavin DeGraw).”
Amsterdam Dance Event Dips Into Caribbean Waters With Second Electric Festival
But even if you weren't one of the lucky few invited aboard the Armada boat, there were other opportunities to gain sea legs. One came courtesy of Vancouver imprint Monstercat, which took attendees on a three-hour mixer outing to highlight a traditionally low-key Sunday (Oct. 18).
3. Legendary artists will take you down memory lane
On Wednesday (Oct. 14), Detroit techno luminary Juan Atkins took attendees to his conference event on an audio journey through some of the most important releases to shape electronic music over the years.
Dropping seminal records by Sly and the Family Stone and Parliament Funkadelic to Kraftwerk and Gary Numan, Atkins wove a seemingly endless string of fascinating recollections ("I came up in the ghetto of Detroit. You kinda had to dance to escape. That was our release") and reflections ("Technology destroyed Detroit but it also made it a techno city") into his chosen musical tapestry.
On Friday (Oct. 17), Chicago house pioneer Marshall Jefferson conjured up nostalgia at the ADE Next Beatport event. Interviewed by Beatport VP of Media Zel McCarthy, Jefferson spoke candidly on the current music climate ("If I did half the music I've done today, nobody would hear it. It was a lot less crowded back then") and the death of his close friend Frankie Knuckles last year ("I woke up to 10 messages on my voicemail. It was too many people for it to be a hoax").
4. Underground music coexists with the mainstream
The range of artists you can see in one night is staggering. For example, I began Thursday (Oct. 15) night by dropping by the intimate CUE Bar for a subterranean set by Italian deep tech export Crocodile Soup at the Theatre Records Showcase. Then it was off to the opposite end of the stylistic spectrum with Martin Garrix's high-profile homecoming at a sold-out Heineken Music Hall.
The next night was no less a product of parallel worlds, commencing with Axwell & Ingrosso's energetic headlining performance at Heineken Music Hall and ending much, much later at Awakenings' Carl Cox & Friends showcase at iconic venue Gashouder.
Axwell & Ingrosso Tease Pusha T Collab 'This Time' at Amsterdam Dance Event: Exclusive
5. You can embrace your inner-nerd with abandon
AD's program of art and technology events is called the Playground for good reason. With the exception of Barcelona's Sonar, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more tech-savvy music festival on earth.
From exhibits on graffiti at the Amsterdam Museum and screenings on the history of the Roland TR 808 drum machine to the ADE Soundlab's Gear Test Lab and Modular Market showcases, the conference checks nearly every box for artists, producers, engineers and tech enthusiasts.