The 21st edition of ADE will take place from 19 to 23 October 2016. Featuring more than 2,200 performers, 450 speakers and 140 participating venues, ADE is the world’s biggest club festival for dance music and the most important business platform for the electronic music industry. This year, the organisation is expecting 375,000 visitors, spread over five days.

The electronic music industry has great significance for Amsterdam. It contributes to the positive image of the city and creates jobs in the creative industries. The latter is especially obvious during ADE, when practically all music studios in and around Amsterdam are fully booked. In addition to the festival’s extensive club programme, ADE hosts conferences and masterclasses; under the header ‘ADE Playground’, it offers a varied cultural programme featuring art exhibitions, film screenings and talks at more than 40 venues in the city.

Extended opening hours

As in the previous two years, venue licenses will be extended for ADE. Visitors of the event are to be welcomed to the city in a spirit of openness and hospitality, and to this end, all official ADE venues are exempted from the regular closing time rules. The licensing extension means that participating venues may stay open until 8:00 in the morning. However, this exemption does not extend to the regulations concerning noise disturbances and venues are expected to take extra measures to prevent disturbances for local residents. Evaluations of the years 2014 and 2015 have shown that the extended opening hours did not lead to a noteworthy increase in noise complaints.

The City of Amsterdam will deploy additional security and supervision personnel during the festival to immediately address noise complaints. Complaints that are filed later will be taken into account in the following night’s shift. If a venue is found to be in breach of regulations, the City may act accordingly. 

Rules and regulations

The City thus provides freedoms for the clubbing scene for ADE, but it also puts in extra efforts to ensure visitors’ health and safety. For instance, regulations from the 2015 Beleidskader Dance Events are applicable to bars organising club nights as much as to organisers of larger-scale dance events. This includes requirements regarding searches at the door, providing information, handing out free water and providing first-aid facilities. The Beleidskader Dance Events is a list of regulations established by the City, the Public Prosecution Service, the police, the Public Health Service of Amsterdam and the fire brigade, working in close collaboration with Jellinek Prevention, the drugs advice foundation Adviesburo Drugs, organisers of dance events and Amsterdam’s Night Mayor. The regulations and specific rules for bars and other small venues clearly state which conditions organisers must fulfil to endure safe events.

Drugs policy

The above policy operates from the standpoint that there is no place for drugs at a dance event. However, despite all efforts by organisers and authorities, it is impossible to banish drug use entirely. Visitors to events that make the decision to take drugs have to take responsibility. Therefore the City of Amsterdam has chosen for an approach that focuses on reducing the risks related to drug use.

This means that organisations such as Jellinek, Celebrate Safe and Unity and the ADE organisers focus on providing information, especially directed at visitors from abroad. They try to reach all visitors with media including an animation film, posters and an information booklet. There is also a social media campaign and teams on the streets. The aim of the campaign is to prompt visitors to seek medical help if they become unwell after using drugs and to point out that anyone can seek help at first-aid facilities at all times. Jellinek will again provide a drugs testing service, located on Keizersgracht and, on 19 October, there is an information event about ecstasy by Unity in De Brakke Grond, open to everyone.

Prosecution of possession of drugs

Extra attention will be paid to providing information about the laws concerning drugs possession. Earlier ADE editions have shown that visitors, particularly those from abroad, are often illinformed regarding the legality of drugs. It is illegal to be in possession of drugs and, if a person is found to have drugs on them, they will have to hand them over, irrespective of the amount. The person in question will not be admitted or re-admitted to the event.

The police and the Public Prosecution Service focus on combating the dealing of drugs with the aim of discouraging and prosecuting drug dealers. People found to be in possession of drugs will only be persecuted if it regards an amount exceeding what could be considered logical for personal use: that is more than five ecstasy pills or more than 0.5 grams of hard drugs. The police arrests the person in question and the Public Prosecution Service decides whether they will be prosecuted or not.