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Thousands Head To The Dance Mecca Of ADE In Amsterdam

Perhaps the trendiest place on earth, Amsterdam holds the largest dance event in the world with the self-assurance and aplomb of the identikit hipsters that descend upon the city for the weekend.


With so much going on it’s easy to get lost amidst the intertwining streets and canals with a party tucked away around every corner. Planning your weekend meticulously may not work out so well for you.  As I found, ADE has a way of carrying you off into the unknown so that one minute you’re on-route to a set and the next you’re being fed burgers by happy, dancing Swedes offering you free stuff from their music-blaring van.  Like every festival, these are the moments that looking back, aren’t to be missed. There were plenty of those at ADE.

I did however make it to some of the sets planned.  Fully committing to Pets Recordings showcase, Catz Eats Kink at Amsterdam’s friendly Chicago Social Club turned out to be a win.  Bristol based DJ/Producer Daniel Pearce, aka Eats Everything delivered a burning hot set with his signature sound of house infused with UK Bass, Jungle and Detroit Techno.  Wow! those sexy dutch kids know how to dance. And there, tucked away in the cosy smoking area I also got to have a little chat with a favourite trio of mine; tastemakers and record label, Eton Messy. ‘We aren’t from Eton.’ Ed Byass declared without prompting and somewhat defensively.

Next stop, Dockyard Festival. Welsh Amy, under 5ft, Veterinary Nurse and ADE enthusiast told us on the ferry she loved Industrial Techno which is why Dockyard was the highlight of her week. She loved, banging drums and ‘power noises’…

Pitching up at Dockyard was indeed like pitching up to an industrial site – the kind your Mum and Dad told you never to visit as a child because you’d end up dead. It felt like a place where no good things could happen, the crane at the entrance beckoning you in like Cerberus to the third circle. But…you kind of get into it.

Taking a few minutes to have a look around and speak with some of the festival goers, I decided I liked the vibe despite the thundering brain-demolishing beats hammering out of the XTC tent. (Points for the subtle acronym.)  I was reassured by the sober, non-alcoholic bar and falafel van on offer for those who fancied a healthy orange juice and falafel mid-rave snack.

Being somewhere in between the fist-pumping techno heads working out in the XTC tent and a falafel snaffler, the Deeperfect tent was indeed perfect. Hosting the Mystic Garden Stage, Tech-House veteran Stefano Noferini and music machine FACT showed that with half a decade’s experience behind them, they know how to throw a party.

The highlights included Rodriguez Jr, who kept smiles on faces and feet moving with a blend of shimmering jazzy melodies and quirky bass-lines to Lunar City Express’ long and textured set switching seamlessly from quiet to euphoric moments, Techno to Experimental, which kept the crowd hooked. Stefano Noferini did of course offer up a diamond of a final set. Amidst the greenery of the Mystic Garden stage Noferini appeared like a bald Oberon, King of the Fairies. ‘Dance children’ the chunky playful beats whispered to us  - ‘Get down with it’ courtesy of The Junkies. So we did, and we danced.

It came to me later, sitting on the dock of the bay, looking across the water to the beautiful city, that Dockyard had been very much like Welsh Amy.  A little gem in a packed ADE schedule and full of surprises.

Words by Kate Smoker

Pictures Dockyard Festival