The history of Amsterdam Dance Event - The world’s biggest club festival

The history of Amsterdam Dance Event - The world’s biggest club festival

The Netherlands might be known for its impressive live music and festival scene, but in October there is an event that puts Pinkpop and Lowlands to shame. Amsterdam Dance Event, or ADE for short, is a five-day electronic music festival by night, and conference by day, taking place across a number of venues in the Dutch capital.

The history of ADE

The first ADE was held in 1996 and was the brainchild of Zijlma, the current head of Conservatorium Haarlem, and the Buma / Stemra Foundation, which advocates for the copyright rights of composers, lyricists, and music producers in the Netherlands. Back in 1996, the event had only one venue - a hotel on the Vijzelgracht in central Amsterdam - and served as a business event for members of the Dutch music industry. 

The event was so successful, that it was brought back a year later. The 1997 edition of ADE was held at De Balie during the day, with 30 DJs involved for the nightly entertainment for the 300 attendees at Paradiso, Escape, and Melkweg.

Electronic music takes over Amsterdam

The event has grown significantly over the years. Since 2018, the yearly event has been organised by the Amsterdam Dance Event Foundation, which now hosts over 1.000 events in nearly 200 venues across the city, with hundreds of thousands of people from all around the world descending on Amsterdam to celebrate the world of electronic music. 

This new and significantly larger event completely transforms the atmosphere of the whole city, and, with the conference and festival, is the largest yearly industry event, providing a solid educational platform and foundation for future generations of electronic music enthusiasts and professionals.

The event still aims to stay true to the origins of dance music, and the role it played in underground movements and protests against the mainstream mentality, social injustice, oppression of minorities, and a celebration of black, queer and trans culture. ADE still attempts to provide a platform for all the unique voices in the world of electronic music, celebrating diversity and amplifying the voices of those who otherwise might not be heard.

Amsterdam Dance Event - The Conference 

The conference offers a platform for the business side of the electronic music industry. Prominent and influential members of the industry from all around the world give talks, exchanging knowledge and information with fans and colleagues alike. People from all aspects of the production of dance music are in attendance, from (aspiring) DJs, producers and musicians, to brand- and marketing managers.

A range of conferences, lectures, workshops, installations, and demonstrations take place across Amsterdam, with the DeLaMar Theatre serving as the main venue for all exciting and informative events. 

 Marco Scheurink via ADE ADE conference 2018

Amsterdam Dance Event - The Festival

The festival aspect of the event celebrates and showcases all electronic subgenres, with more than 2.500 artists descending on 200 of Amsterdam’s most lively and iconic venues, including some well-known clubs

But the festival isn’t just live music and partying into the early hours of the morning. Over the day, ADE also hosts a number of dance music-related exhibitions, festivals, documentaries, master classes, and DJ showcases. This daytime programme ensures that there is something for every one of the electronic music lovers who visit Amsterdam to partake in the legendary event. 

 Piet van Strijp via ADE ADE Festival 2018

Put your dancing shoes on for the Amsterdam Dance Event

ADE is a unique event on a truly awe-inspiring scale. What do you think makes ADE so special? Will you be attending any events this year? Let us know in the comments below!

Thumb: Jordy Brada via ADE.

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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