You don’t get a warm welcome, Friday early in the evening in the large concert hall Afas Live. The tent looks half full, while the party is really sold out. It is a result of the corona measures that affect Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE): only 75 percent of the hall capacity may be used. At one party you hardly notice this, at another a chilly wind blows through the arena.
It is then up to the DJ to make something of it. The Eindhoven resident Ferreck Dawn is playing in the Afas, he has to convince all those people who got the feeling upon entering that they gambled at the wrong party of the opposite. Ferreck Dawn isn’t a well-known name who makes tons of money from his shows, he’s just a hard worker from the middle ground. It has been around for years and, like many other Dutch colleagues, it was dry for a year and a half.
And then you see it happen right in front of you. Ferreck Dawn spins an immaculate set of unparalleled house; no broken classics, but exciting tracks of today, without obligatory climaxes but with an irresistibly rumbling groove and lubricated vocal samples that tickle your brain. Impossible to stop and think about, the whole room notices. With each record there is more atmosphere in the Afas, the arms go up. Then he mixes his new track kush in and the DJ lurks over his set to the audience: how does it react, have I got hold of them? Cheers in the hall, everyone is dancing. The dance is alive again.
It is the story of ADE 2021. It was not about trendsetting sensations or innovative party concepts. All participants in ADE, from organizations such as Circoloco, Awakening, Loveland and DGTL, only want one thing: to make something of it, despite the disastrous night lock with which the festival was saddled.
The artists in particular, from huge names from many foreign countries to Dutch talent, are looking for the long-lost dance feeling in Amsterdam: the heartbeat of the nightlife and the unbridled pleasure of standing on the dance floor together. In the Afas, but also in the Mediahaven or in small clubs like Radion, the excitement of the club culture reigns, even if it now has to be called up between lunch and children’s bedtime. The fact that ADE has managed to set up such an incredibly festive event despite all the headwinds is to be commended.
Reinier Zonneveld performs something improbable in the Ziggo Dome: for ten hours he builds a rather historic live set in front of an exploding arena filled with more than ten thousand people. Zonneveld always manages to grab the attention of his audience when he lets rattling hi-hats steam up from the distance, on his way to the thundering claps of the bass drum again. The Ziggo Dome is once again that massive party tent from before corona.
Techno plays the leading role at this ADE. Perhaps because the grim cadence says something about the zeitgeist, but probably also because some dark sentiment should be deployed against the daylight. From Awakenings in the Gashouder to Circoloco in the harbor area, the thumping four-quarter time digs in and beautiful new names pop up, from the Spanish Indira Paganotto to the Dutch Mary Lake. They park old heroes like Luke Slater in the shadows. His tingling and musical techno from the nineties comes out of his equipment with difficulty in the Muziekgebouw, it is too messy and not subtle.
It was a relief that we could finally compare again at this ADE and see where dance and club music will take us in the coming years. And that is – although the suffering of the nightlife is far from over – also a huge relief. Given the circumstances, and the role the event played this year, this ADE was arguably the most important edition ever.
Also as usual at ADE: the fusion between dance and classical music. The Amsterdam dance band Weval played with the Metropole Orkest in the Rabozaal on Wednesday. And although Weval’s usually so transparent music sometimes sounded a bit overcrowded, especially due to copper bursting left and right, the hypnotic dance compositions nevertheless took on orchestral wings. You noticed that a lot of preparation time had gone into the concert. Otherwise the cellist would never have been able to reproduce the long notes from the vocals so seamlessly. Weval will be releasing a new album soon and this classic massage was the perfect warm-up.
Amsterdam Dance Event
From 13 to 17/10, various locations, Amsterdam.