Editor’s note: Curtis Atchison is a House music DJ and electronic music producer/engineer. He is also an LCAL student.
Amsterdam is known around the world for many different things, such as the Van
Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House, coffee shops, the Heineken Factory and
the Red Light District. But for one week the capital city of the Netherlands is also
known throughout the music industry as the epicenter of electronic dance music.
The Amsterdam Dance Event is a five-day music conference and festival held in
mid-October. It began back in 1996 as a three-day conference with only 300
delegates and thirty DJs. Nineteen years later, the festival has grown to
accommodate more than three thousand delegates, DJs and thousands more
electronic music fans. The Amsterdam Dance Event has also welcomed and
conducted interviews with musical legends such as Nile Rodgers of Chic, Giorgio
Moroder, Boy George of Culture Club and Frankie Knuckles, the Godfather of
The ADE is broken down into three major sections. The first is the Conference
where thousands of music industry delegates converge for meetings, socializing
and to attend panels discussing some of the latest news in the global electronic
music scene. Not just limiting to dance music, one of the more popular
conference events during the ADE is the Traktor Cookery School. Sponsored by
Native Instruments, selected DJs from around the world are taken away from
their musical devices and placed into a kitchen where they showcase their mixing
skills behind a stove. It’s a great venue to get up close and personal with some
of the people who shape the industry, as well as get a great bite to eat. The
second portion of ADE is called the Playground, where attendees are exposed to
the latest technology and equipment with plenty of hands-on demonstrations.
Some of the vendors that attended this year’s ADE include Native Instruments,
Pioneer, Novation and Samsung.
Both the Conference and Playground portions of the Amsterdam Dance Event
take place during the day. But when the sun begins to set, the Festival or the
third part of ADE kicks into high gear. If you like to party and dance all night,
there is no shortage of events to attend with more than 80 different venues to
choose from. From Deep House to Techno and all points in between, there’s
something for every electronic music fan to enjoy. Those who register and pay
for the Conference receive a badge and wristband that grants special perks for
the Festival, including line priority, heavy discounts and sometimes free
admission to all the festival events.
What was once an event that primarily catered to European crowds is now
evolving to include a more global audience. Some music producers, industry and
fans representing the American market have foregone their own national
conferences, grabbed their passports and made the journey to Amsterdam for
this week long celebration. Manny Ward is one of the many names that now
include the Amsterdam Dance Event on his yearly music schedule. No stranger
to the House music scene, Ward is a seasoned DJ and music producer who has
rubbed elbows with several high profile DJs and producers as an employee of Eightball Records. He is also featured on “Back To The House”, an upcoming
documentary reflecting on the 90s underground house music scene in New York
City. Ward praises the conference for the attention it gives attendees, “For me,
the Amsterdam Dance Event is an event that takes care of its people. During the
day, you’re presented with informative and relevant panels. At night, registered
attendees are treated with respect. There are no problems at any DJ or label
events. That’s is very important to me because even though you’re meeting
people from many different parts of the world, there’s still an inclusive family feel
Not just limiting itself to international industry growth, the Amsterdam Dance
Event has also begun to embrace the global LGBTQ community. One of the
pioneers bringing forth that shift is Elliot Matos, a DJ, music producer, and owner
of EPM Productions, who is responsible for organizing the official Gay.D.E
events for the conference. A five-year veteran of the ADE, Matos has many
positive things to say about his experiences. “I like that the Amsterdam Dance
Event is so inclusive of all the different styles of electronic dance music. It brings
together people from all walks of life. The ADE helps me to reestablish relations
with older colleagues within my global house music family. There are also many
new people to meet who share similar passions about the music. That keeps me going back as well. It all adds up to more potential connections and collaborations.”
The Amsterdam Dance Event has grown to become one of dance music’s most
highly anticipated festivals and conferences. Globetrotters who are also fans of
good music may want to consider aligning their travel plans to make a visit to the
Netherlands the same time as the next ADE gathering. Because if music is the
universal language of all mankind, Amsterdam certainly has a good idea of what
that might sound like.
This was my fourth year attending the Amsterdam Dance Event. I have been privileged to host a number of parties and be featured as a guest performer at many other events. This year, I started the conference with SoundGroove Sessions at Club Warehouse. It is a party I’ve concocted for the last two years where I feature many upcoming producers and DJs from around the world who are also artists signed to my digital record label, SoundGroove Records.
The next day I played and hosted the Drum Nation party at Club Church. Despite the name, the club is anything but sacred. It’s a perfect place for me to bring one of my longest running parties to Amsterdam. The combination of percussion driven dance music with the bizarre, yet entertaining burlesque style of the club’s drag performers makes for a great mix and a wonderful time. I also was a guest DJ for an event at Club 23 celebrating the commercial launch of the “Back In The House” documentary, created by French filmmaker Farid Slimani. This is an upcoming film focusing on the popularity of House Music in New York City in the 1990s while House music was also becoming a global phenomenon.
Later that evening, I took part in the Sounds of Blackness After Hour Party at Club Church. This was an event that took place at Club 23 two years ago and was a huge success. Not to be confused with the gospel group of the same name (who was also remixed by the Godfather of House Frankie Knuckles), the Sounds of Blackness celebrates House music through the eyes, ears and talents of prominent African American DJs and producers such as Quentin Harris, Manny Ward, Honey Dijon and Tedd Patterson.
I am proud to have played both events and alongside some of the most respected names in the House music industry. On the final evening, I made one more impromptu appearance at the Gay Minded party at Club Warehouse. This was one of the many closing events of the Amsterdam Dance Event, and it’s always wonderful to get together with friends one last time, before we go in our own separate worldly directions.