At what point does a (working) holiday to Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) begin?
Is it as I cracked open the rosé Cava whilst on the train to Gatwick? or when arriving at Gatwick when I realised that I'd left my spending euros in my room in London after a last minute bag change? Perhaps it was when we got to security and I realised I'd inadvertently thrown Tom's passport in the rubbish bin? Or maybe it was finding the only other ADE goer (aka Tree Trunk) on the plane to get tipsy with on the brief flight over the North sea.
No, I think it began as we touched foreign soil and it took and hour and a half to depart the airport because of being a bit too drunken and busy smoking cigarettes, being too confused by the automated train tickets dispensers, hanging at the far end of our train platform and missing our trains.
The greatest thing about ADE is that there are over 200 events in 57 clubs over 5 nights. Choosing which gig to go to was a tough choice where it eventually came down to a toss up over location verses tried and trusted DJ's and sometimes throwing caution to the wind and finally seeing people play that I've been meaning to catch but hadn't yet.
The decision our first night in the 'Dam was the Supernature and Rekids night, on a boat no less. A boat to be found on pier 14. Except at 1.15am we were at the pier. And the boat wasn't. Through some brilliant piece of serendipity Tree Trunk and his friends, the Chew The Fat! guys were onboard and let us know the boat would be docking again. Stumbling on after three different groups of boys offered us what Amsterdam is most noted for we hit the second half of James Teej's set. At some stage we realised water was rushing past the windows and that we were cruising along Amsterdam's waterways. The realisation was delayed mainly because of being mesmerised by the absolutely beautiful Nina Kraviz. Perhaps our focussed had also shifted because we realised that to every girl (me) there were at least 10 men. And strangely they all seemed to be called Tom. Handy.
Radioslave finished up the evening with an atmospheric rolling beautiful set that wrapped you in a cocoon of colliding rhythms.
Ejecting ourselves off the gang plank onto the pier post a proposal of a gang bang (well I was one of the few women) and an offer to the toilet attendant to party with us for ever, we wondered past the only multilevelled bicycle (car) park I've ever seen
Hailing a taxi was easy. Remembering where we lived was not. Oddly the instruction 'near the park with the tram line at the top' actually got us back. Successful first night!
I was supposed to head to a Red Bull press launch for their new app Red Bull BPM Mobile DJ (after reviewing the press pack the app looks amazing btw) which had free drinks and everything! But was led astray after a last minute invite to head to the Minus Boiler Room Exclusive. Striding to the office building it was located in, we saw quite how big the ADE presence is in Amsterdam.
Not put off by a torrential down pour we ended up on the top floor of a 7th story building in time to grab copious free Heinekens (standard)
and shuffle to Ambivalent. Seth Troxler's set followed and seemed to match the dark, rain heavy clouds about us. Dubfire brought up the tempo as the room's atmosphere got more frenetic the closer to 6pm when Richie Hawtin was due on the decks.
Black velvet curtains were put up to cover the floor to ceiling windows and with the aid of a few flashing lights we were no longer in an office block but about to hear a seriously good set from the Minus label head. Words can not describe my utter joy to be dancing right behind Hawtin and watching an auteur at work, so I won't bother. Watch it here instead.
My musical highlight of last year was Michael Mayer's 8 hour session for 'A Night With…' so with that lasting impression, I could not not go to the Kompakt showcase in Melkweg. The club is part of a modern multi-roomed performance space. The entry to the right led to a definitely younger crowd going to the Goldie and Chew The Fat! event, whilst we (a slightly older bunch) ascended 3 flights of stairs to the Melkweg Hall. The first thing you are hit by is the smell of wood and then the utter sense of space as the dark wooden panelling traversed to a height of a three story building (or so it seemed). HIgh up in the rafters was the best lighting rig I've seen since Manheim Time Warp 2009. There was a bar running half way down the length of the room and a stage at the end. And that simplicity provided the perfect setting for live performances of Matias Aguayo, WhoMadeWho and John Tejada and a set from Rebodello. The last set for the night was Michael Mayer back to back with Tobias Thomas. I'm always quite hesitant when people back to back, because I think there requirers a pretty strong psychic connection with each other to get the ebbs and flows right. However, from the sound of that first needle crackling on the vinyl, we were led on the most beautiful journey from start to finish. My cheeks reeled in pain from smiling so much as we twirled around the voluminous cavern. The moment that was my peak of the set was the dropping of James Yuill 15 minutes before close. I have finally worked out why I love Mayer so much; his sets are like the first rays of Spring sunshine after a long bitterly cold winter. A very interesting juxtaposition to the reduced and reconstructed sound of Hawtin heard less than 12 hours previously. One is not better than the other, they are merely different. Two men at the top of their game. Quite simply one of the most perfect musical days I have ever had.
I'd been invited to meet the Native Instruments guys to look at some of the machines they have created that have been instrumental in how contemporary electronic music is produced today. I am no techie- love Techno, don't know how it's made, a bit rubbish really! So sitting in a plush suite in the Dylan hotel, suffering from the night, before discussing equipment I know of only by importance as opposed to understanding it's function, could have been incredibly uncomfortable. What I was yet to realise was these people, who were so welcoming were to become friends I still know now. After riffing about vinyl verses digital, physical artefacts verses mp3's, I left the suite fortified by espresso.
I joined my friends on another boat at the Red Bull organised party for 1,000 revellers to hear Modeselektor playing tracks from their new album. This boat housed a mercedes
in the middle of it and had sliding doors that opened to reveal the DJ's getting delivered by water taxi (even though we were moored the whole time)?! The biggest draw I imagine though was the free bar!
Dinner was spent in a restaurant called Moeder (Mother in Dutch) run only by women with every wall space covered in photos of peoples Mothers
A belly full of meats, potatoes and sauerkraut led us back to our friends hotel to wait for the food coma to lift. 'Better Rave' juice helped
especially with vodka! And then we set off to head in different directions. Me to Plastikman. The others to Technasia. But we didn't get far. No cash machines were working. We tried different banks. We tried different UK bank cards. And nada, niente, nein. All the cash machines in Amsterdam had gone down! So back to the apartment for beer, salty sticks
and buttery biscuit base. A slightly earlier night and a much needed sleep.
I'd penned in a few talks at the conference that I'd really wanted to see. So headed back to Felix Meritis, the multi-levelled site of the conference. The conference has taken over from Miami Winter Music Conference as the leading environment for industry heads to reflect back and look forwards to what the production and consumption of electronic music means. I heard bits and pieces of different panel discussions on 'labels in the digital age' 'future music platforms' amongst others. I met up with one of the xlr8r journalists and had a really useful discussion re the the web and the online services that it provides, over a beer (or two). Next on our agendas was to watch Derrick May interviewing long time friend Frankie Knuckles; a wonderful intimate conversation full of anecdotes and unknown facts. I was looking forward to papa Sven Väth's q and a, but he chose to only reply in German, making mono linguist me at a loose end. So, I put in a call to the NI guys and hung out at one of the many free bars on the site with them. Then drank champagne in the Dylan with them. Then ate oysters and steak whilst quaffing Côtes du Rhône with them. Falling in friendship with them!
Whilst I was wining and dining, the others went to M.A.N.D.Y., Deetron and Steve Lawler who apparently is no longer a prog house DJ and is actually rather good! We re-met at MC Theater to dance behind the decks to The Martinez Brothers supping on their backstage drinks.
Theo Parrish and Dennis Ferrer were also on the bill but we left to catch one final party for the evening. We arrived at Trouw for the final instalment of Resident Advisor's X 10th anniversary celebrations. We were led to the back of the former newspaper building watching thousands of hands in the air for the final 15 minutes of the headlining acts Sasha and Craig Richards (Photo 12). As the space emptied of it's inhabitants, about 30 of us were led to the backstage/ artists area and preceded to dance for a further 4 hours. All roads of the past 4 days seemed to lead to that back room. Everyone who I'd met, who I knew was in Amsterdam and some I didn't know were there, were with us; discussing the rugby world cup, smoking illegally inside, 'borrowing' beers from the artists fridge, swapping numbers and Facebook addresses.
Day/ Night 5.
We were supposed to go out on the final evening of the conference to Marcel Dettman and Ben Klock, but the previous 4 days and nights had taken it out of us in the most wonderful, fun filled way. Quite simply, ADE helped remind me of why I work in the industry, why I love the music I do, and that it really does play such an important part in connecting like minded people. Friendships are made and lives are changed for the better. And it's all down to the music.