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Interview: ADE Co-Directors Jan-Willem van de Ven & Meindert Kennis On Cancelling Conference, Navigating COVID

ADE is only about a week away and we have a brief chat with its co-directors about putting on the event through changing COVID regulations and much more.
Jan-Willem and Meindert Kennis

Jan-Willem and Meindert Kennis

It has been a difficult road for ADE, like all other events, over the past 18 months. They had to cancel their event last year and this year, there were some serious doubts about how it would go forward, especially in-person. Government COVID regulations loosened last month, but still didn’t allow the event to go ahead as one might expect under typical circumstances. However, ADE is looking to forge forward this year, albeit in a slightly diminished capacity and earlier on in the day. The conference has been cancelled, but promoters will host hundreds of parties all over Amsterdam over five days from October 13-17.

COVID regulations were updated three weeks ago by the Dutch government, allowing clubs to open, but there would be slightly limited capacity and they have to close by midnight. This has forced promoters and ADE to get creative, moving events to start earlier in the day, instead of the usual 10pm or later start time, to allow for full lineups.

See the full list of lineups on the ADE website with events going all day, every day.

This was no easy challenge to adjust on the fly, but they had to with very little time. We caught up with ADE co-directors Jan-Willem van de Ven and Meindert Kennis to see how they did that, why the conference was cancelled and if they can take some positives from how it is happening this year.

1. How has ADE adapted to the 12am curfew? Were there promoters and artists who didn't like doing earlier gigs?

Within a few days after the last press conference by the government, we had to reschedule all events within a few days. Luckily the city council and the promoters were super cooperative. We knew there was this general feel of urgency to push through with the events and get our industry back on its feet, but we are still overwhelmed by the resilience of our scene.

There have been no negative feelings around doing early gigs whatsoever. Quite the opposite actually. There’s just this insane positive vibe in the city. ADE FOMO is back in the air at the moment.

2. Why did ADE cancel the conference and not the other club & music events?

Besides practical issues like restricted international travel, in order to host a top-class conference as we always do, you need a lot of time. It’s not a matter of showing up and have a chat. There are lots of narratives to set up and navigate through. If we had gone through with the conference it would be sub-standard of what we want to offer.

The festival is mostly hosted by 3rd party promoters. So we decided to channel all our resources to the festival in order to coordinate a massive ADE within a few weeks

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3. Have all the venues that are normally used for gigs around ADE stayed open or have some closed?

There’s always rotation in opening and closing of venues, but by far most of them are open and have insane lineups programmed.

4. What do you expect in terms of crowds and where might they be coming from? Will it be as international as in the past or more European this year?

Hard to say obviously, as no one has ever been in this situation. But Europe is easy traveling, the US is ok-ish and Asia a bit more difficult. So it will be more European than usual we guess.

But the desire to get out there again is so high; you wont see any difference in the amount of people heading to Amsterdam for ADE.

5. Do you have any contingencies for last minute COVID restriction changes and have there been any issues with travel restrictions?

So far we haven’t had any new issues. We’re less than two weeks away so we’re quite sure this is it.

6. What are you most excited about for this ADE?

Apart from the lineups, it’s the vibe. The release. The feeling you're back at where you want to be. Doing what you love without restrictions.

We’ve all experienced it in some way or another the past month, but not on this scale. It’s going to be like the first time you went to a party and got hooked by the whole experience. We can’t wait.

Bonus: Might you maybe enjoy going to bed a little earlier this year?

We both have kids, so that’s an obvious yes.

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