Throwing money away. Missing Nile Rodgers chat wet whilst wearing a guitar. Pretending I know how Spotify analytics work. Nordic Children, Ricardo Villalobos candles. DJing in the shitter and Chocolate Tony.
Many of you are hurriedly typing wrap-ups of your trip for a company director who won’t ever read them, following up on those meetings you can’t remember if you had or not and/or checking yourselves into rehab which can only mean one thing: It’s Amsterdam Dance Event of course! That halcyon 5-day bender for dance music industry big-wigs and not so big-wigs. Yes from beautifully pruned afros to the toupees of the scene, all and sundry come out the woodwork to show they are still relevant and this year Purple City Soufflé was no exception… except possibly in the relevance stakes.
Here is What We Learnt.
I booked this three day trip five days before the event started. Finding a place to stay on the cheap was seemingly impossible and then, eureka! I find an absolute gem on Airbnb in South-East Amsterdam; just far enough from the centre that gak fuelled troglodytes from generic tech-house labels won’t want to come over for an after party and close enough that I can use public transport as we need to save money in the hope that we can actually release some music next year or possibly the year after. I reserve the room post-haste.
Now to get a flight. A bargain at a mere £220. TO FLY FROM LUTON! AND RETURN IN STANSTEAD! Sod it, I’ve booked the Airbnb now: in for a penny, in for a pound.
OK, now for the conference card. I’ve been heavily advised to get one if booking late, for fear I won’t get into any of the clubs.
HOW MUCH?! I may have bankrupted Purple City Soufflé. It was good while it… lasted?
I should probably make some gash generic business cards too: ‘Ang tight Vistaprint!
Ok so, Thursday to Sunday, let’s go!
I set off on a miserable Thursday morning. If I thought it couldn’t get any more miserable I was wrong: I was on a train to Luton. The EDL stronghold which makes Runcorn look like Gran Canaria. Luton is like the town the word ‘despair’ was invented for only then they spelt it wrong. Luton should have a sign that reads “Luton, home to God’s waiting room”. Apparently people who fly into Luton Airport regularly complain that the pilot dropped them into the disused airfield from ‘Con-Air’ instead of their actual destination, all the while fearful that Steve Buscemi is going to sing to their children.
I was moments from calling the trip off but thankfully there was a pub at the Airport which was more than happy to serve this dishevelled roustabout a pint of mild at 10.15am.
My opinion of Luton was quickly changing come pint number two: On a scale of 0 – #FreeTommyRobinson I am now at ‘St. George’s cosplay’.
The flight takes off without a hitch (EasyJet, you’ve changed). Landing in Amsterdam I realise I’ve booked a meeting 45 minutes after touchdown and I’m now rushing through Schiphol Airport to get across town to meet with the sort of ADE character that has been in the scene before any of us were born. I get to the meeting area and it’s full of ashen faced blokes swigging half pints of Heineken talking about how their loft conversions have caved in because of all the questionable vinyl promos they still have from the 80s and 90s.
“That US remix of ‘Mother’s Talk’ by Tears For Fears will be worth a fortune one day mind, I’ll never part with it.”
I roll straight from the meeting to the Airbnb. My suspicions of this area are confirmed when I see a crack deal take place on the street I’m staying between a dealer on a fixie and a woman who literally looks like the White Cliffs of Dover in a 2004 Inter Milan tracksuit. Yes, I’m in the hood.
I drop my bags off, nip out to buy 10 tinnies and weigh up whether I’d rather lie down on the sofa and drink these or watch Nile Rodger chat breeze… Tinnies always win.
Charged up on the sauce, I peel off to a drink session at some bar that’s way beyond capacity (free beers will do that). The place is packed full of music industry disruptors, many of whom are disrupting me from my pint.
Dividing out a little motley crew, we split off on a quest to find a decent bar/brothel, forty five minutes later we realise we walked in a huge circle and I start to question if I have actually entered a serotonin spiked ‘Truman show.’ Will I ever be able to leave Amsterdam?
We end up finding a mediocre bar/brothel and get hammered for the night (I’m still unsure whether it was a bar or brothel we frequented but we gamely got hammered none the less.)
I’m rudely awoken by the sound of my door being opened at 7am. Am I in the right place? Am I still in that bar/brothel? I ignore it and go back to sleep, I’m sure it will happen again if there is a problem.
I wake up at 12pm, completely missing the Will Ashon Q&A. I’m determined to get my money’s worth out of the extortionate conference pass I forked out for. Falling out of the sofa bed that I must have managed to unfurl when being completely smashed last night, I wander into the living room, still a touch foggy. I’m sure I hear someone else in the apartment but choose to ignore it. I’m sure I’ll hear it again if there is a problem.
I shower and change as I have a nonsense meeting at The Hoxton and I’m running a bit late.
As I’m about to leave I see two po-faced, teen-fiction audience, possibly 18-year-old girls sat at the breakfast bar looking as confused as I am. I then remember the message I received on Airbnb saying the landlady and two of her friends would be stopping by the following day for a bit. Turns out they weren’t stopping by and had booked the other room in the apartment… Also turns out they weren’t even friends with the landlady.
I very awkwardly say “Uh… Hi…Ermmm… You must be the friends of ***… Oh you’re not? and you’re staying here for ADE too? Ok… Welll, ermm, have to run to a meeting… Errrr… Bye.” Confused by what was happening I left as quickly as I could, fearful that I would be spending the rest of ADE living with two extras from Harry Potter and the Quantum of Solace (I’m not a Harry Potter fan… Your honour.)
Super late for this meeting and petrified by the emotionless Nordic children I have burrowed into my Airbnb, I scurry my way through a crowd of stag parties and children who had stopped to stare at sex-trafficked women in a green house with what looks like a great photo developing set up. Oh blast/yay! I’m in the red-light district. Swimming against a current of blokes dressed as inflatable penises and Pamela Anderson in Bay-Watch, I make it to The Hoxton just in time to find out the meeting definitely was a waste of time,
I then head of to the conference centre as close friend of PC$, Jack Springbett (You may know his work from the Nigella t-shirt campaign – Hurry up and buy) was giving a Keynote lecture on how to bang out well good artwork in the digital age. I was sat front and centre necking a bottle of rum and taking photos with the flash on. Always support your home team.
I’m now so sozzled I decide to sit through the panel which came on after to sober up a little/doze off.
I bid my farewells to Jack and run to the Alex Boateng chat down the road, sweating like I just got caught trafficking two underage Nordic children in an Amsterdam apartment. I arrive at the venue and find the chat had been moved to two hours earlier (I’m definitely not going to get my monies worth out of this pass but at least I got a backpack and a book out of the deal).
I head home in fear the police are going to be outside ready to question me on why I’m staying with two minors. Thankfully said minors are in their room, probably terrified of me/plotting my downfall. I chuck my laptop down and doze off for a bit rejoicing on how much of a twat I was for putting Jack off during his keynote.
An alarm I didn’t set wakes me up but I’m glad it did as I have a party to go to at Armada Music’s office in the middle of nowhere. The children of the corn are at the breakfast bar; I must have heard their alarm. We finally have an awkward chat; I feel reassured that they haven’t called the police on me and they feel similarly reassured that I’m probably not going to murder/traffic them. I think. They’re Martin Garrix super-fans (obvs), hence why they’re at ADE. In ever so slightly less awkward fashion, I bid my farewells and head to Pilotenstraat (The middle of nowhere) for some thumping beats / complimentary drinks.
It’s an open bar so I stay longer than I should. I’m therefore running late for a dinner I’m meant to go to. Wolfing down a pizza, I chat breeze about how Spotify analytics works (LOL, nobody knows how it works) and fall about the bogs sloshed, expertly managing not to get piss on myself.
The meeting continues to NYX club where we manage to blag the whole dishevelled crew in as “Guestlist +6… Sorry can we make that +10? no problem? Really? Are you sure? Ok cool.”
This then leads to the DJs in our crew taking over Room 3 AKA the toilets and though it was fun at first, the novelty wore off when the smell of piss, shit and vomit took over.
I get home sweating like a shrinkwrapped Ricardo Villalobos in a sauna so chuck my jeans off, grab a beer and passed out watching ‘Shaun of the Dead’ on the sofa. I wake abruptly as I hear the front door open.
Damn! I’m not wearing jeans! It will look really weird if I put them on now! …It’s already weird!!! Best to just pretend this is normal, finish my beer, complain about the landlady leaving instructions to feed her cat (which has probably died as I put food out and it hasn’t been touched for 24 hours) then go to bed and hope I don’t end up on The Dam’s finest sex offenders register come dawn.
I stir out of bed at around mid-something, down a couple of beers in the shower and run off to a meeting / before the police arrive.
Turfing up at the meeting, I see they’re having drinks, incongruously sat in front of the busty women of colour section of the red-light district. I’m genuinely convinced the Nordic girls from the The Returned may walk past and see me having a meeting in sex traffic central… Smoking weed hasn’t helped with this paranoia surprisingly.
Watching these bird-watcher looking types wander into the sordid sex cabins, sectioned off with nothing but a red curtain that probably hasn’t been cleaned since the Tulip Mania of the 1600s, then walking out like nothing happened is the most unsettling thing about this meeting.
I sack off my other meetings as I’m done with listening to “How it used to be” and “This is what it’s all about now”, and continue to get absolutely wrecked before flying back tomorrow.
The rest of Saturday night is a bit of a blur, I do recall getting an Uber back and passing out on the living room sofa in my pants again, this time watching ‘The Lobster’ starring Colin Farrell looking like Ned Flanders. I woke as the movie ended, wondering why there were all these bottles of Bacardi Breezer dotted about the place. Was this my doing or the hellspawn of the long boats? I take myself to bed, I’ll deal with the consequences in the morning.
I wake up at midday(ish) looking like a foil-wrapped Ricardo Villalobos finishing a 12-hour DJ set in a microwave.
Crap, I realise I didn’t finish all the… ermm… “Drinks” I picked up last night. Best finish that here as I can’t take drinks on the flight with me. It works instantly. I set an alarm to tell me to get to the airport later in the afternoon. Packing seems way too difficult to do right now; probably best I attempt to watch ‘The Commuter’ starring Liam Neeson (not his best work) and wait till the drink wears off a little. There’s so much drink left this is going to be tough.
Don’t judge me but in my drunken state I may have asked Team Norway Youth Club if they wanted some drinks. There were just so many drinks. They politely declined. Blast! This is going to be a really tough day.
I line up more drinks and crack open a beer to take the edge off.
Now sweating like Joe Morton playing Ricardo Villalobos in ‘Terminator 2: Judgement Day’ I jump in the shower to attempt to wash away my sins. I Jump out the shower, say farewell to the kids and call Matt at the Purple City Soufflé HQ for emotional support… I immediately feel worse.
It’s now time to head to the airport and put this ADE bullshit behind me. I finish my drinks and run out the door, steam emitting off my head and looking like a Ricardo Villalobos water feature. I wonk down to the train station. I check my phone and see aggressive and confusing messages from my girlfriend demanding I bring back bars of Tony Chocoloney.
Feeling like I am fighting for my life, I somehow manage to find the airport, slip through security with a complexion similar to that of Po from the Teletubbies dressed as a traffic light, find a naff airport shop and garble something about “Chocolate Tony”. As I attempt to stuff the Tony bars into my bag I almost lose my boarding pass 3 times.
I get to the gate. ‘1 Hour delay.’ Damn you EasyJet! I head to the bar to cool my jets.
I wonder if the kids met Martin Garrix?
All-in-all, I had a lovely time.
Here’s what we learnt:
• Don’t get a conference pass unless you’re organised enough to go to conferences and RSVP to parties. PC$ haven’t got a pen-pusher to do this for me yet.
• Luton is so grey, it looks like it has been buried and concreted over several times. Why does it still exist? Why do people live here? Why is the man still trying to hold Tommy Robinson down?
• Tinnies > Nile Rodgers.
• Jack’s Keynote was probably the only thing I actually learnt on this trip. Shame I was too shit-faced to remember any of it.
• When on the sauce, I look like I’ve been shallow fried in Ricardo Villalobos drippings.
• I honestly don’t know anything about Harry Potter… Honestly.
• I may or may not be wanted by Interpol for the sex trafficking of minors into Benelux.
• ‘The Lobster’ is a fantastic film, especially when you’re off your nut.
• Saying “Chocolate Tony” to a black man may have been construed as racist.
• PC$ will be starting a go fund me page to get us to ADE next year… Or cover my bail for sex trafficking crimes – same, same.
Chat to Ashley / provide him with an alibi on Twitter: @Only_Ashley