It’s been almost two days since I left the house. My flannel pajama pants and I have become best friends. After the most enchanting week and a lengthy 10-hour flight home, I’ve resorted to ordering delivery and my smile lingers like the smell of cigarettes on the clothes I haven’t unpacked. Working for an events company has its perks and it’s like they knew I’d come home overwhelmed and gave me simple tasks to do while I got over the jet lag. I rented a car to avoid being too social… I’m not ready to ‘people’ yet. It’s back to reality, but reality has a shinier lining and there’s a twinkle in my eye when I’m asked to recount stories from my now-yearly pilgrimage to Amsterdam Dance Event.
Upon arrival, we rushed to our accommodations, the Hotelboot Angeline, and eagerly caught up with friends. So much laughter and talking, so much excitement! By dinnertime, I was dead to the world. I was falling asleep sitting up, talking to people. Jet lag won and I was left unconscious in the ring.
Once awake, I was in it, I was in the ADE bubble.
The ‘outside world’ disappears on cobblestone pathways lined with yellow and black flags, like the friend who can’t keep up. The ADE bubble, where you walk 20km a day easily, you sleep when you can, in shattered increments. It’s glorious. No, really, it is. We are marathoners who have trained all year to drop our sets, fist-pump for hours at a time, meet and greet, network, reconnect, indulge, let go and fall into the same vibration, shaking off whatever we left behind.
We are a crew now. We vibe with our tribe. We are the DNA of the ADE bubble.
Right off the bat, it became obvious I had to report back on something more powerful than rhyming off a list of events I attended. It’s understood that the caliber of entertainment for ADE is off the hook so let’s reiterate that. The thing that permeated the air, thicker than the Amsterdam haze, was how people were feeling and what they were saying about their experiences. Even though ADE is about the parties, its after-effects go far beyond the late nights and flashing lights.
“ADE is the best!! It’s a time when you can go to any club and look around and see everyone you know. Over there and over there and over there…”
– says a jovial Joost (Tom Hades/Rhythm Converted) as he points excitedly around the room at the Cincopat/Selador party.
Earlier that morning, I’d mustered up some courage to try riding a bike to an appointment. Maybe it was because I hadn’t ridden a bike in 25 years; maybe it was the tourists walking around like horseflies in the window in springtime… All confused. Maybe it’s because I just sucked… It didn’t work out so well. But along the way, I ran into Joost. We haven’t seen each other for a year and yet, it was like no time had passed. He applauded my biking effort and reminded me of the Rhythm Converted Meet & Greet at Hunter’s The Bar. A few hours later, I gave Tom Hades a huge hug and we went on to talk like no time had passed. Tom and Joost have been hosting this event for years and it wouldn’t be ADE without stopping in for some techno-love. Even Tom’s wife was there, handing out drinks.
The ADE bubble’s game is strong by now. Everyone you meet is smiling at this point. People are (sort of) rested but even if they’re exhausted, they’re still smiling, planning the route to the next destination. The city is alive! Every event you attend is filled with faces you’ve come to know and love, around every corner. The energy is high, people are happy – it’s just so good. It’s like no time has passed between friends and if anyone has a cold going in, we all have the same cold coming out. It’s tight knit – it’s intimate. And you can feel it.
Everyone is an equal.
”The only way to be happy is if everyone else around you has the same.”
– Rafael from Israel
We met Rafael in ClubNL. He engaged Robert Mason and I in conversation. He made sure we had everything we needed, in that moment. He wanted to be sure we had what he had.
The generosity of people attending ADE was astonishing. As a brotherhood, we helped each other be more comfortable in the ADE bubble we had created. Rafael just happened to be the one to say it. On so many occasions I witnessed true camaraderie, not only extended to others but also myself included, people helping people. Food, drinks, accommodations, you name it, everyone pitched in to make it happen and make it happen well. For this week, Amsterdam is an island for artists and there’s a seemingly unspoken rule of ‘no soldier left behind’. The acceptance felt at ADE is a safety net in this Cirque du Music Industry. You can be sure someone has your back.
“My English, it is not the yellow from the egg.”
– Julian from Germany
One hugely overwhelming aspect of Amsterdam Dance Event is how multicultural it is. People from all over the world unite and here’s the thing – 99.9% speak English, and they do it really well. But still, they apologize for their English. It’s important to bring this up because to all of you who have learned English as a second language, we native-Anglophones salute you. A lot of us can only speak English and we would be lost without your effort in learning the language. Never apologize for your English! You’ve made it possible for our world to communicate. I can’t even string together a proper sentence in Spanish and here you all are, every nationality in the world, speaking to one another with ease. It’s truly amazing to witness.
”We have to go, babe. We can cry at the airport.”
– Robert Mason to me the morning we fly home.
There’s a lump that wells up in my throat every time ADE comes to a close and it’s time to head to Schiphol. Stepping on that plane is like forcing myself to leave the bubble I’ve come so much to love. The parties we played and attended were motivating and inspiring. The goodbyes are hard and we snap our final photos of the runway, as if it’s some kind of spectacular metaphor that we are off to new heights. ADE has to end so we can return home and get creative, until the next year.
With solidified relationships and bags under my eyes, I’m going home pumped.
And now I’m home. The postpartum is strong. Food delivery has just arrived and I answered the door in my super stylish outfit I’ve worn for 2 days. My voice is weak and so is my ability to stay up past 8pm. I miss my ADE bubble. Totally a post-break-up scene in a sitcom, I just want to eat ice cream and watch cat videos. This happens every year upon my return, I know it will pass and life will go on. My Facebook newsfeed is flooded with an outpouring of love – to people reunited, those missed and I connect emotionally with posted photos of canals I probably walked by, although I have no way of knowing for sure.
Everyone in attendance this year has brought home memories to last a lifetime, and experiences to change them forever. It’s a common side effect of being in the ADE bubble. Even as I sit here trying to use my words and explain it all, I can’t do it justice because maybe the words don’t exist. Maybe the feeling is just something that can’t be quoted. Or maybe I haven’t heard it yet. Perhaps someone will say it next year!