Amsterdam Dance Event Festival 2016: Dancing with Honeybees, UFOs, & Club Smashers

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With the passing of another October, so comes to a close another installment of Amsterdam Dance Event.

DJ Times took you into ADE’s packed Conference programming earlier this week, but for most revelers the event’s robust festival portion is the true reason for the season.


Even on paper, ADE 2016’s scope is simply staggering. 2,200 artists, 140 venues, 1,000 events, and 375,000 visitors comprised this year’s edition of the five-day marathon, taking place in and around Amsterdam’s famed canals and bringing an endless amount of thrills to be found.

From the big room heroes who played the Heineken Music Hall to the underground stalwarts holding down the grooves in every nook and cranny Amsterdam has to offer, ADE 2016 was a massive undertaking for anyone crazy enough to attempt it. Thankfully, DJ Times took in all the sights and sounds for you to tell you just what really happened on the dancefloors of Holland last week.

Chin-stroking techno was the name of the game on Wednesday, where the week’s festival programming kicked off with Pan-Pot’s Second State label showcase down at De Marktkantine. As skies rained chilly drizzle outside, the IDM-flecked techno soundscapes paired perfectly with the club’s stark, warehouse-esque décor. With just some lasers and some hanging clear boxes, it was a minimal environment that let the music of the German pair’s label do the talking.

The night’s highlights came from Pan-Pot themselves, who ducked and weaved through a slew of genres during their headlining set. Best track? A quick appearance of the massive diva vocal from Pig & Dan’s uplifting joint “The Saint (Job San).”

The scene outside Melkweg & Sugarfactory was nothing compared to the madness happening within. | Photo:tomdomscom

The scene outside Melkweg & Sugarfactory was nothing compared to the madness happening within. | Photo:tomdomscom

From the moment patrons shuffled into Sugarfactory on Thursday night for the lady-led We Are Not Alone to see a UFO hanging in place of a disco ball, there was no doubt that the evening belonged to Berlin techno queen Ellen Allien.

Before the blonde Panorama Bar favorite took to the decks, England-born, Austria-raised Cassy Britton delivered a surprisingly upfront, club-smashing set. The key cut that defined it? Carl Craig’s epic nine-minute remix of Aphrohead’s “Grown Man Cryy,” which summated the wonderfully party-ready set full of big grooves.

Ellen—who had just shown off her culinary chops the previous evening as part of the sixth annual ADE DJ Cook Off—took to the decks right at 3 AM, and the BPitch Control head honcho took that packed club on a ride to remember. Dipping though a glorious mix of techno, house, and even a brief stint of breaks while she danced, jumped, and grooved in the booth, Allien showed off why she’s so revered both behind and beyond the decks. Surely one of the week’s finest showings.

The weekend launched into high gear up in the docklands on Friday evening, as Jamie Jones brought his DC-10 institution Paradise back to the NDSM warehouses for a star-filled showing to the delight of anyone lucky enough to grab a ticket before they sold out. Once again thrown in conjunction with the team behind Amsterdam’s DGTL Festival, the ADE 2016 installment of the long-running Ibiza residency boasted two rooms and a smattering of Paradise regulars.

Two key performances of the night came in Area 2, which was outfitted with a scaffolding-like maze of LEDs, beams, and wirework. Patrick Topping’s B2B set with Hot Creations favorite Richy Ahmed was a high-octane mix of the pair’s complementing styles, perfectly exemplified by a drop of The Mekanism’s garage-tech rework of Swedish pop purveyor Robyn’s “Don’t Fucking Tell Me What To Do.” Conversely, Infinity Ink’s arena-ready finale that included a massive remix of their ode to guest list excuses “Full Capacity” hasn’t left the minds of anyone who was in attendance for it in the week that’s followed.

As for Jones himself, he seemed to be on a major nostalgia kick during his late-shift closing set. There was a furious assault of blazing tech-house that rocked the house until dawn, but it was the quick, surprising appearances of 1980s and 1990s pop classics that really seemed to stun the crowd. We’ll just proclaim this: Jamie Jones is one of the few people in the world capable of playing The Bangles’ “Walk Like an Egyptian” or Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” at a warehouse rave without it even dripping a drop of cheese. Hats off to the master.

On Saturday the place to be was Rembrandtplein, where Claire hosted Heist Recordings’ showcase as well as an intimate affair from Amsterdam’s own Soundmachine. The new club has overtaken the former space of late-night favorite Studio 80, and its debut ADE showing lived up to expectations if the sold-out crowd had anything to say about it.

Soundmachine’s own Beesmunt Soundsystem teamed up with Bezier and Josh Cheon of San Francisco-based spirit sisters Honey Soundsystem to take the reigns all night in room 2, properly celebrating the release of the former’s “Sensual Works’ 12-inch on the latter’s HNYTRX label. The combination of the two was an absolute delight, with Honey Soundsystem’s indelible ability to turn the crowd of nearly any party inside out with top-notch programming once again on full display.

Couldn’t make it out? Take a listen to the two acts’ mix for Amsterdam’s Red Light Radio station from early Friday evening below.

There you have it: we came, we raved, we ate Belgian fries, and we went through an unfathomable volume of Heineken. While we continue to nurse our wounds and reflect on what was arguably an even stronger musical ADE showing than last year, we’re already counting down those days until we don our dancing clogs one more time.