In its 22nd edition, Amsterdam Dance event drew in a record of 395,000 attendees this year, once again proving to be the largest club festival and the most important business conference for the world of electronic music.
Overall, the event brought people together from over 90 different countries, as well as 7,200 representatives of the worldwide electronic music industry , all of whom traveled to atten the conference.
Marocco was under the spotlight of this year’s ADE Global Year, the region highlighted as one of the next up-and-coming hotbeds for electronic music thanks to its diverse local scene filled with musicians crafting a mixture between local sounds and dance floor beats. Morocco lies in a central and unique cultural position between Africa, Europe and the wider Islamic world, incorporating ancient musical cultures with a deep and rich flow of dance and repetition. With its stunning international festivals and young Moroccan producers, its modern 21st century dance community is set to keep influencing electronic music in the years to come
Moreover, a special pavilion was hosted to showcase China this year. For the first time ever during ADE, this pavilion was constructed for a country with dedicated lectures, forums and debates for professionals working in the Chinese dance music industry. France and Belgium also took the opportunity to focus a bit more on themselves at this year’s event too, with dedicated events relating to both countries.
Known from Biënnale, the development of pavilions represented by countries will be the next logical step for ADE. Within the last 25 years electronic music has drastically grown internationally and with such unique sounds and mixed with many different genres, it is expected for more countries to host their own pavilions for the years to come.
More artists participated in the ADE Sound Lab this year too, sharing insights into their DJ and studio set ups. These included heavyweights in EDM, techno and house such as Martin Garrix, Richie Hawtin and KiNK, Soulwax and Tiga, Surgeon, Lady Starlight, Oliver Heldens and more.
The night program included cross overs with different genres and special productions at unique locations. Some examples include Underworld, who performed at the cycle passage of Rijksmuseum, Jameszoo and the Metropole Orchestra, as well as Colin Benders at Rembrandthuis.
Age boundaries were also pushed at this year’s ADE. Martin Garrix, 20, was voted again the most popular DJ of the world during ADE week and went on to host an all-ages concert, allowing teenagers to attend with parents. There was also a free festival called Hangover at NDSM, which took place across the river for the first time that was visited by many families. On the final night composer Philipp Glass, 80, performed at Melkweg, drawing attendance from people of all ages and walks of life.
As always ADE continued to go beyond the mere focus on the music and business side of things, by also showcasing the importance of health, underscoring why our minds and bodies are far more important than anything else. With a staggering 30% of electronic artists having experienced mental health issues at one time or another, the importance of caring for your mental and physical health in our often highly demanding industry, has never been so key! The ADE Pro Health Block focused on caring for your mental and physical health, enlisting the help of The Association For Electronic Music (AFEM) to bring together a panel of industry pros to share their views on subjects such as dealing with depression and anxiety.
Moreover, ADE continued to focus on the importance of caring for hearing safety and dealing with tinnitus. Wearing ear plugs has always been an important and crucial part of the music experience, and especially so within the electronic and dance scene. ADE continued to put needed emphasis on he subject by regularly reminding attendees to wear ear plugs to protect their hearing so as to be able to continue to enjoy the sound of the music we love so much. As always, DownBeats staff were happy to see the strong emphasis on hearing protection throughout the week, as well as the general importance given to the subject of body and mental health.