This year it should have been the biggest event in the field of electronic music: the Amsterdam Dance Event. Where it has been good for hundreds of thousands of visitors from dozens of countries in recent years, this year because of corona it is digital, with live streams and workshops.
ADE is not only about parties, but also about networking, says DJ Sam Feldt. “Many young guests who want to become a DJ and work in the dance world come to such events to hear their great heroes talk. I know all sides of ADE: I used to go there to give my demo to DJs, played there and wanted to go there as label owner this year to find new talents.” That ‘piece of serial’, as he calls it, is also falling away this year.
DJ Reinier Zonneveld also went to ADE in 2007 for that same reason: to party, but also to give his demo to artists. “It is a special network for everyone in the world of dance. Beginners try to give a demo to their great hero. Besides the fact that it‘s a party, you can really drop off your business card there.”
According to Feldt, a lot of deals are usually closed at the event, but that’s gone. “Most deals are closed at such a party and not at a conference table. This year the looser mood to be able to talk about deals is missing. That‘s killing for new talents.”
No chance for new artists
DJ duo Lucas & Steve recognizes that. In 2012 they were on their way to Amsterdam with a CD-folder. “We knew we could play our music to record labels and dance greats. That one-on-one conversation, which is incredibly difficult throughout the year because everyone is scattered around the world, is very important. That opportunity is now lost for new artists.”
In previous years the duo showed as many new albums as possible during ADE. “You show what you have in store for the dance world. It’s important not only for the promoters, but also for the fans, so they can see what they can expect from you in the coming year.”
Feldt and Zonneveld will be playing for ADE-livestreams this week. That feels weird, says Zonneveld. “Online never has the same effect as actually getting together with thousands of people, but those are the concessions we have to make this year.” According to Zonneveld, the online version is better than cancelling the whole event. “This way you keep the atmosphere alive in a community where so many people have become unemployed. That is a good gesture.”
Still, Feldt wonders if it‘s going to work. “I wonder how many people turn on the live stream and really start dancing in their living room.”
ADE-party, but at home
Then Feldt doesn’t know 29-year-old Randall Jordan yet: he is jumping this weekend. “I go to several ADE-parties every year, because it‘s always my birthday that week. This year I’m bringing the party to me,” he says. “I‘ll turn on ADE’s livestream and I‘ll invite some people off.”
Jordan is really there as a ‘party consumer‘, he does not go to the workshops. “I always celebrate my birthday this way. This year it’s no different. Or well, I lost less money on booze,” he laughs.
What the future looks like in the dance world is unclear. Creative alternatives to dance events come from different angles. For example, the release of the album Letters to Remember by Lucas and Steve was in a drive-in cinema. “You want to kick off an amazing event, but you have to row with the belts you have. At first we thought, is that all? But when we stood there, it was so fat.”
Dozens of cars stood in front of a stage and a screen of the cinema. To hear the music, you had to tune in to a special FM transmitter. “Cars honked, they blinked with their lights. We had special effects and fireworks. We certainly want to do this more often. It is temporarily the perfect solution.”
Feldt and Zonneveld don‘t know what the future will bring. “The problem is the uncertainty. We need more support from the government. It feels like a time-out, but we don’t know when it ends,” says Feldt. “What is certain is that demand is unabated. People want to party more than ever.”