How to survive ADE 2016

Amber Long

Get ready for ADE with your personal Survival Guide

It’s only a matter of time before Facebook news feeds, banners and profile pictures all turn yellow and black. That time of year where 350,000 music industry professionals start posting photos of autumn leaves on Amsterdam canals and videos of wild nightlife. Amsterdam Dance Event is a yearly reunion that keeps us connected like a family. It puts us in one beautiful location for a week, gives us free reign of an open-minded, party-friendly city and its clubs and introduces people that would otherwise never meet.

This will be my third year going to ADE and each year, I learn a little something new on how to have more fun and be as productive as possible. The schedule is packed full of things to do, parties to attend and taking in some of Amsterdam’s scenery is always nice. The Dutch people put up with a lot with us tourists being all free and liberated in their country. But we love it, the Disney World for Adults!


We each have our own reasons for heading to Amsterdam this October 18-23. Label owners, managers, club owners, producers, artists, vocalists, MCs, DJs – so many DJs… Everyone who does anything in the world of electronic music is there, and if they’re not, most want to be. Personally, I love it. I live large, come home exhausted, get sick for a couple weeks after and start planning the next year. I’m sad to leave the people I care about but am thrilled to have seen them again.

If this is your first year or your fifth, here are some helpful hints on how to survive ADE 2016.


Plan early

If you don’t have your accommodations by now, good luck! Cheaper rooms book up months in advance and Airbnb shortly after. Sharing rooms with friends is a good way of cutting lodging costs but remember, by the end of ADE, we are all sleep deprived, have eaten too much bitterballen and are all popping melatonin for the plane ride home. I am not going to pretend we aren’t all a hot mess by Day 5. Choose your roommates with that in mind. I say this because personally I really suck on zero sleep and can be intolerable so tormenting anyone with that isn’t fair. Minimum drama equals maximum fun!

Work out a tentative schedule of gigs and events you want to attend

A lot of events are free. The ones that aren’t, if they are big shows, buy your ticket early. Even if you know the headliner, ADE is massive and when an event sells out, and the headliner is busy, you could find yourself on the sidewalk outside a long time. Granted, your tentative schedule may change but we all know the big names we are dying to see so plan ahead to be in that venue. Don’t expect to be on the Guest List, and anyway, why wouldn’t you want to support your favourite artists?


Plan your meetings with others

Start now, reaching out on social media and setting times to meet people for coffee or a drink to talk business. Even if it isn’t to talk business, meet people. Go out of your way to connect with those you’d never have the chance to sit face to face with. This is your opportunity! I cannot stress the importance of meeting the people you work when given the chance. By sharing a hug and a smile, it makes it all real – it brings it together. We are the humans that bring life to our scene. Be sure to make contact.


It’s a long week, pace yourself

The last two years I’ve been to ADE, friends have gone so hard the first couple nights that they end up img_0837missing events they have tickets for later on in the week. I get it, it’s exciting! My first ADE, I drank so many bottles of wine on Day 1 that I met Guy Mantzur in the street and didn’t recognize him. I asked him for directions and still could not find my hotel. Not one of my most shining moments. We’ve tucked friends into bed and left to go to a sold-out Panama show to see Hernan Cattaneo and Nick Warren, only to recount the details over breakfast the next morning to our well-rested friends.

ADE is a week of concentrated excitement. Rivers of libations run freely, as do spirits. But it’s 5 days, there is no concept of time, you’re on a 24-hour clock. You’ve got to rest when you can and pace yourself like a marathon runner. If you miss something, it’s over, it’s never coming back. You can catch up on social media… Just remember that when you arrive in the land of enjoyment-overload. You’re there for the week – you can do ALL the things! But not if you’re passed out.

Be smart about your transactions

Don’t support local street dealers. It seems like common sense but they’re everywhere. They’ll come up coyly beside you and whisper, “Do you want some beak?” out of nowhere. One asked if we’d like to ‘sniff her cat’. It is true that vacationing often gives us a great sense of invincibility but officials are trying to stop these dealers so… just don’t go there. Don’t add insult to injury and put yourself at risk while feeding into the dark side. You have so much freedom while in AMS, work with it.


Respect your environment

Thank you again to the Dutch for being so tolerant of us when we walk in front of their bikes while they’re going 40 miles an hour. Thank you for understanding that most of the world isn’t as free so sometimes tourists act like knobs as they get a grip on all they’ve ingested… When you’re at ADE, remember you’re a guest. Be polite and try and learn a couple helpful Dutch words like “alstublieft (please)”, “dank u (thank you)” and “goedemorgen (good morning)”. Even if you think you sound ridiculous trying to say it, it’s respectful to try and use the Native Tongue. Pick up your trash, be patient with others and don’t be a douche. Again, basic common sense.

You can live on bitterballen and beer but probably shouldn’t

img_0800Depending on where you’re flying in from, let’s get real. Amsterdam is not cheap. You spend the first few days converting currencies in your head then you give up and approximate everything. Make sure you bring enough money to support yourself. Drinks aren’t free. Cab rides cost about €20 from one side of town to the next simply because the volume of traffic and people in the streets is so high. Food, yes you can get cheap eats from the coin machines and live off pizza slices but with the wear and tear you’re putting your body through, budget to have a couple nice meals that include salads. Extracurricular activities? Take care of yourself. Amsterdam is your oyster, bring enough cash to enjoy it. I always spend more than I think I will when visiting foreign countries, it happens every time. Whatever you think your budget is, add a couple hundred euros for good measure because it’s better to be safe than starving.

img_0866Well, there you have it. Just a few things I could think of, off the top of my head. I cannot guarantee you’ll have the ADE of a lifetime but it’s quite possible since the energy all week is positively infectious. The streets are alive with laughter and brilliant people, comradery, connectivity. There is no separation between the greats and the hobbyists as everyone congregates in front of the Felix each morning.

ADE is a most strenuous retreat for the impassioned underground music enthusiast. It feeds the soul, gets the adrenaline going and opens many doors. We are all connected by this reunion each year that almost, yes almost, tides us over for another year. And do not let the dragging feet in the AMS airport fool you as ADE comes to a close. Those are the same feet who have experienced great things and they’re just tired. The person attached to those feet is reborn anew with fresh inspiration, even if they’re too tired to show it. Their creativity is brimming over and they can’t wait to get to their studios… I think I speak for us all, post-festival.

[youtube] So, to everyone attending ADE this year, have a wonderfully productive and fun time! May it be everything you set out for it to be.

[[ And don’t miss FRISKY’s 2nd Annual Get Frisky ADE Event! ]]