Amsterdam Dance Event GM Richard Zijlma Talks Event Expansion & 2016 Must-Sees

Hans van den Heuvel
Richard Zijlma

Since its 1996 inception, Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) has grown and evolved into one of the foremost dance music industry conferences and club festivals of the year. In 2016, ADE reaches even further into the future with programs and panels that gather some of the brightest minds from not only the dance and electronic scenes, but hip-hop, technology, and the visual arts as well.

5 Reasons Amsterdam Dance Event Belongs on Your Bucket List

Billboard Dance caught up with ADE general manager Richard Zijlma to discuss the keys to ADE's continued success as well as its plans for a brighter future.

How did you first get involved with ADE?

As I used to work as the producer for several festivals in the Netherlands like Eurosonic Noorderslag, I was asked to join ADE from the very first edition over 21 years ago. By the third edition, I was asked to become the general manager, which I thought was a great idea. It was just my dream to work in this scene.

How do you feel the event has evolved during your time there?

It’s been a long time. 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. With the growth of the global scene, ADE also grew in all aspects. We created an ecosystem for the dance scene, providing all of the elements you can imagine, like dedicated programs such as ADE University for students, ADE Next for upcoming DJ’s and Producers and ADE Pro for business. It’s all there. We have documentaries, photo exhibitions, visual arts, museums with dedicated programs, tech labs and 2,400 artists performing. I’m very proud we are able to present the whole spectrum and evolution of this scene and to be part of it.


What made you decide to introduce the SLEEP/OVER campsite this year? 

The director of Amsterdam North area NDSM contacted me with this idea, which I immediately liked. The SLEEP/OVER site will become a new hub of ADE, including nicely facilitated tents and pods but also access for campers which is something new for ADE. We will also have a great program of talks, workshops and showcases on-site and in surrounding locations, a bit inspired by the Burning Man kind of vibe.

What else are you excited for this year?

This year we will introduce the ADE Hackathon. Over recent years, we have seen more and more tech-oriented companies and delegates attending ADE, which is natural because it's in this scene's DNA to use technology, of course. This year also sees the launch of ADE Live with Melkweg, Paradiso and SugarFactory, set to host more live electronic music acts during ADE's early afternoons. I’m really looking forward to that. Following last year’s pilot edition, ADE Beats will return for the first official edition with a dedicated conference stream on urban, hip-hop and beats music with a fine program including Hudson Mohawke, Kurtis Blow, and Jazzy Jeff speaking. I’m also very excited for Maceo Plex's free concert at Rijksmuseaum, which takes place in the bike tunnel under the historic building, and also for the appearance of Laurie Anderson and Philip Glass.

What are some of the biggest challenges associated with putting on the event?

The same as throwing a party at home really (laughs). Keeping everybody happy. Luckily, we are quite experienced. We have a great team and great partners, plus the city of Amsterdam is really supportive, all focused on making it the best edition ever.


Are there any interesting memories/stories that stick out from your experiences at ADE?

Now you are asking me to write a book (laughs). There are so many memories. But the thing I like most is that industry delegates, artists, and audiences each have their own stories and ADE experiences. The best moments for me are when some wander over to me to let me know what a great time they are having.

What are your plans for ADE’s continued international expansion?

We are working on some plans. We had a great, great ADE Global Sessions last year in Mumbai, a sold out conference. So let’s see how we can top this!


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