The annual Amsterdam Dance Event is an experience close to our hearts. Here's what happened when Crowd DNA went out, out...
There are a couple of reasons why we wanted to write about the Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) this year. First, we’re very proud to call Amsterdam one of our homes, and we like to get a chance to talk about what’s happening on our doorsteps.
Secondly, we’re strongly inspired by all of the DIY energy at the core of dance music. Blending things, improvising, getting tech to do things it wasn’t meant to do, grassroots creativity – it’s all very much in our (Crowd) DNA.
ADE has been bringing cutting edge music, club nights, industry seminars, film screenings, art exhibitions and record store happenings to the Netherlands capital since 1996 and is attended by over 400,000 people, reveling in this mix of sub-cultural expression. Here is a taste of our experiences at the five-day event this year…
Last Night A (Female) DJ Saved My Life – Andy Crysell, CEO & Founder
DJs/writers/dance music historians Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton staged a talk and party at ADE, marking the launch of the second edition of their highly definitive Last Night A DJ Saved My Life book. For anyone who hasn’t encountered it, Last Night… heads deep into the psyche of after dark culture and the role of the DJ, telling an inspirational underground story that weaves from reggae to disco to house and beyond.
The big shift in the new edition comes from Bill and Frank’s acknowledgement that, in the first, the input from female-identifying DJs was glaringly light. They’ve put that right this time – recognising the impact of many women DJs across many genres, including the fascinating story of Celeste Alexander, the only female DJ ever to spin at Chicago’s The Music Box, the iconic home of Ron Hardy and year zero house music.
They noted in their talk how they now aim for 50/50 female and male line-ups at their own parties and that, on top of everything else, it simply makes business sense: “doing this has completely renergised who turns up for our nights.”
Spearheaded by the likes of Charlotte De Witte and Amelie Lens, female DJs have made a monumental impression on dance music over the last half decade. But there are those, less known, who came before them. Telling their story – and thus the origins of modern sub-culture – is important to do. Props, while on the subject, to the women DJs who had a big impact on me in the past. Smokin’ Jo, Kelli Hand, Princess Julia, Nancy Noise, Lisa Loud, DJ Paulette, to name a few.
Beats And Burgers – Joey Zeelen, Director, Amsterdam and Stockholm
After the success of the pop-up PAINDEMIE, the restaurant specialising in toastie burgers recently opened a permanent location in Amsterdam Oud West. The building on the Kinkerstraat consists of two floors. The interior downstairs is inspired by a Japanese subway station where burgers, sandwiches and grilled cheese are served. Upstairs is an art deco, Japanese listening bar where vinyl records are played all weekend.
The restaurant has gained a true cult following over the last few years due to its surprising food, interior design, humorous Instagram posts and collaborations with in-vogue chefs.
During ADE the owners decided to host an early evening rave with upcoming Dutch DJs JEANS and Mairo Nawaz. Both played psy/Goa trance and techno for four hours, while the restaurant staff continued flipping burgers. The result is best described as a Blade Runner-dystopian-retro-futurism party… with amazing food.
Normally, we would be sceptical of these types of concepts. Rave culture doesn’t easily get appropriated, and brands showing up almost always seem desperate. But this was a great example of how a brand connects and amplifies underground music culture in a way that doesn’t feel contrived. Success is dependent on a symbiotic relationship, where the artists, the culture and the brand all benefit. And that’s what happened here.
EDM Wellbeing Escapes – Irina Dimitriade, Associate Director
For the metal-head in me, dance music has always been something that other people did. Until ADE 2022. There were so many amazing things about it, like seeing an entire city come together into a giant party for five days and nights. But what really did it for me was discovering EDM as an instrument for wellbeing.
ADE is a great reflection of how electronic dance music is expanding and becoming a holistic instrument for inner peace. It started with Mark to the Music, a mindful art experience at the Museum van de Geest (aka Museum of the Mind). Here, Jolien Pusthumus, a neuro-sensitive mindfulness trainer, guided us into a deep meditative journey while we created art to the amazing atmospheric beats of DJ Marcelle.
This journey continued with Reflections – a live music and meditation experience at Delight Yoga, one of the most beautiful studios in the city. For one long hour, the voice of Kat Pither from Yogi Bare and the live electronic music of Jesse Marcella guided us into a deep meditative state. The sense of expansion I felt when I woke up was out of this world!
And finally, my journey ended with a complete let-go at Nxt Museum x Transmoderna AiR, immersed in audiovisual dance culture, with sounds, pixels and NFTs. I never expected that an intimate escape into my own mind in museums and yoga studios would actually lead me towards a new tribe.
Creative Curations – Eleanor Bickers, Cultural Strategist
Located at the old military base Het Hem in Zaandam, this industrial backdrop was the ideal place to find an exhibition about the history of rave. Here it felt like we were lost in a radical alternative to contemporary society. It was reminiscent of trying to find a rave – getting lost in the tree-lined routes that snaked around the outdoor event, and all seeking out a collective experience.
With this type of energy, the exhibition had begun before we had even arrived. As cultural researchers, it was a highly interesting and immersive route into an event. Inside the old bullet factory, Sweet Harmony: Out of the Underground told the story of the history of the Dutch rave scene in the eighties and nineties, with contemporary perspectives of queer techno politics and resistance.
It explored the idea that rave culture shouldn’t (just) be romanticised, as it’s a complex ecosystem of liberation, togetherness, and unmediated human interaction. We were encouraged to select our own path through the exhibition. The event curation kept us on our toes – such as with the absence of lengthy descriptions. Rave culture may have been talked about many times before, but the experiential nature of Sweet Harmony helped us look at it with a fresh narrative.