ADE- the Amsterdam Dance Event – is unique. A conference and festival that has grown organically in the famous Dutch city to become one of the most important dance music events in Europe, it takes place every October, spread across iconic venues throughout the city. For DJs, producers, labels, content creators, tech companies, media companies, and clubbers too, it’s a place to learn, meet and party with like-minded people. Day-time panels, conferences, talks and expos, night-time clubs and events… it’s a 24/7 experience.
But… it also goes on for five full days and nights! It is in one of the most iconic party cities in the world! And it has no “central” point, being instead spread out among theatres, exhibition spaces, specially commissioned venues and clubs throughout the city, making it hard to navigate at the best of times, not least on day five when you’re frazzled from the past 96 hours of learning, networking and partying.
Watch the show
Check out the replay of our live show, where we chat with our DJ community about making the most of a trip to Amsterdam Dance Event.
So if you’ve had half an eye on ADE on your socials this last week or so (it finished three days ago as I’m writing this – I’m just about home and recovered), and you’re thinking “I’d love to go to that next year”, what follows are tips to help you plan properly and make the most of it, based on my experiences of attending ADE for many years now.
7 Tips For Making The Most Of A Visit To ADE
- Book a good hotel early – You’ll want somewhere central, and you’re definitely going to need to rest up, so it’s worth getting this right. The truth is that there’s really no such thing as a decent cheap hotel room in Amsterdam during ADE week, but you certainly won’t find anything at all by waiting until a short while before the event, as rooms fill up really quickly (apparently there were 450,000 visitors this year!). If you book a hotel with free cancellation, best idea is to book as soon as next year’s conference is announced
- Get the right ticket type – ADE has three main “parts” – Lab, Pro and the “festival” (the night-time part, aka the partying). In short: If you are a hobby DJ/producer, or on a budget, Lab is probably the best choice for you, and definitely the most affordable option. A Lab ticket gets you into much of the daytime stuff (mainly the events aimed at DJs and producers), but not the more industry-focused panels and talks – for these you’ll need the Pro pass, which costs much more. Another difference is that the Pro pass is “all inclusive”, meaning you can get in free to practically all of the clubs and festival type events going on at night, too – with the Lab pass, you’ll be paying extra for clubs you want to visit. In short, if you make money in the music industry, or are serious about a career in the music industry, you need the Pro pass – treat its high price as an investment in your career
- Plan your attack – Because there is so much going on and it is spread out across so many venues, you’ll need to study the programme carefully. There will be DJs and producers you admire, who are doing unmissable talks or demos. There will be companies you use (YouTube and Tik Tok went in big this year, for instance) giving educational talks and seminars to help you better use them to promote your music. There will be parties you want to go to, but morning events too the next day you want to go to as well. Planning in your phone’s calendar and adding proper map links for locations will mean you can make a busy but feasible programme for yourself, and get map directions in your hand with a tap of the link to help you get from place to place. ADE has its own online planner too which you may want to investigate, but curiously (unless I missed it), no app
- Make networking a priority – ADE and similar conferences are all about meeting people, face to face. Put out a shout on your social media to let people know you’re coming. Arrange meet-ups. You don’t need an agenda necessarily, but if you can have one, all the better. For me, I like to plan what to talk about with people. I think through one thing I’ve done that I’m proud of this last year, one thing I’m doing at the moment, and one thing I’m planning I may need help with. You’d be amazed how much help you can get and the ideas that come out of just sharing these things with people you’re meeting face-to-face, either planned or impromptu. ADE is extremely friendly, and as people from all areas of the DJ/music industry and wider are there, it’s an incredible place to make connections
- Don’t worry when things don’t go to plan – You’re never going to do everything you plan to do. You’ll change your mind. You’ll run out of energy. It’ll rain, and everyone will dive into the venues to keep dry (meaning you’ll be told you can’t get in, even if your ticket lets you in). Things will run late, meaning you get stuck somewhere when you wanted to be elsewhere. Your phone will run flat (tip: take a battery pack). Your phone data will fail (surprisingly common in Amsterdam city centre). In short, you’ll never stick 100% to your plan. Hit 80% and you’ll be doing well. If you tend to beat yourself up over things like this, cut yourself some slack and enjoy what does happen – sometimes it’s the unexpected things that hold the most value anyway
- Make a follow-up list – Every time you meet someone, write down something to do to follow up. Even if it’s just a quick note on social to say hello, it pays to re-connect after the event is over. For me, looking back on doing things with people I met at ADE fuels my relationships with those people sometimes for years to come, and I find it much easier to work with people once we’ve had a chance to hang out in person, but you run a risk of losing your new friendships if you don’t follow up on them. It’s not about exploiting people or using people – it’s just about being genuinely happy to have met and wanting to keep in touch. Remember that people tend to want to work with other people they know and like. Foster the friendships and good things will follow
- Don’t forget about the city itself – One of the lovely things about ADE is that it is in Amsterdam, a singularly beautiful city of canals, architecture, parks, shopping, and partying. Make the most of it! Five days is a long time, and planning time away from ADE will help you to recharge your batteries and give you memories that will become just as cherished as those from ADE itself
Read this next: 5 Things We Learned At ADE 2022
ADE 2022 was pretty special because it felt like the “first” ADE back after the pandemic, and it proved there was still an appetite for us all to get together and unashamedly mainline DJing and electronic music for five days. Keep in touch with the plans for ADE 2023 on the ADE website – hope to see you there next year?