Top photo: Innervisions at Blue Venado. Photo by Anthony Djuren for TheBPMFestival.com.
In what may be a telltale sign of the mass maturation of the US mainstage generation, the 2015 edition of The BPM Festival was the event’s largest gathering on record. The event spanned 10 days and featured 375 of the best techno and deep house DJs on the planet, spread across 80 parties and around a dozen venues throughout the Cancun-adjacent city of Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
Playa del Carmen sits somewhere between tourist attraction and a serene picture of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. While Fifth Avenue is bustling with tiendas and trinkets galore, walk a few streets over and you’ll find a more picturesque, localized Mexico, with casual outdoor dining, families playing on brick-laden streets, and fabric flying from breeze-blown windows. On the southern end of the city, you’ll find the Playacar Beach Residences, which are a mix of family dwellings and vacation rentals. Here, houses have no number, but rather names like “Casa Maeva” and “Casa Toscana.” The latter was the beachfront house where our crew resided during the festival, and the magnificent Tuscan villa proved to be the perfect nesting pad, with more en-suite bathrooms in one house than may be on my entire block in San Francisco (props to The Techno Tourist for helping us procure the spot).
The LessThan3 clan began arriving on Monday, Jan. 12, and our first stop was La Santanera for the Smoke N Mirrors party, which featured Justin Martin, Thugfucker, Marcus Worgull, and Climbers, among others. I hadn’t previously made my way to this venue, but enjoyed its multi-level, open air setting, with decor that rode the line between beach fiesta and tastefully aged glamour.
tINI & The Gang at Fusion Beach Club. Photo by Jeff “Turbo” Corrigan for TheBPMFestival.com.
The next day found us at tINI & The Gang at Fusion Beach Club, which gave me a firsthand look at how much larger BPM has grown, as I attended this same party last year. The crowd was at least twice the size as the 2014 outing, and head honcho tINI held every one of the attendees firmly in her grip as day turned to night.
Cadenza at Blue Parrot. Photo by Danilo Lewis for TheBPMFestival.com.
After that, it was off to Blue Parrot for the Diynamic showcase. This was the beginning of our love affair with Blue Parrot, as we found ourselves there more than any other venue during the festival. Some of the most talked-about sets of the festival occurred this night, with duo Adriatique and Diynamic label boss Solomun wowing the crowd with dark and progressive deep and tech selections.
Diynamic at Blue Parrot. Photo by Jeff “Turbo” Corrigan for TheBPMFestival.com.
The following night’s path once again led to the tiki hut (or perhaps tiki warehouse?) of Blue Parrot for Cadenza & This And That, which saw Luciano, Davide Squillace, and Cesar Merveille bringing the crowd into the sunrise at the beachside club. Attendance was a bit more sparse than for the Diynamic showcase, likely because of the overwhelming popularity of the Paradise showcase with Jamie Jones that was taking place the same night at The BPM Festival’s most fabled venue, Blue Venado. We were saving our Blue Venado jollies for the following night, however.
Innervisions at Blue Venado. Photo by Anthony Djuren for TheBPMFestival.com.
If you’ve heard one thing about BPM 2014, it was probably in reference to the lifechanging experience that occurred for the attendees of the Innervisions party at Blue Venado. It remains the single best party I have ever attended. While it’s not really possible to relive your first time to the same level of wonder, the 2015 edition of Innervisions on Thursday night was still a spectacular event. It’s impossible to compete with the Blue Venado setting–it’s an isolated beach venue with nothing around for miles in any direction except for sand, jungle, and ocean. Imagine that with the sounds of Dixon, Ame, and Mano Le Tough as the musical backdrop, and you can start to get a picture of what this party is like. The crowd was two to three times bigger than the 2014 party, and also ended much earlier, with the music being shut down at 7 a.m. (but not the bars).
Tulum Ruins. Photo by Josh Bennett.
Saturday is the next day anyone would have interest in as far as our itinerary goes, as Friday was mostly spent laying on the beach recovering from the events of the week thus far. This was necessary though, as Saturday was by far my favorite day of the festival. Our crew journeyed South to the city of Tulum, a true Mexican diamond in the rough known for its off-the-beaten-path beaches and ancient Mayan architecture. We visited the ruins pictured above, then made our way to Las Ranitas Eco Boutique Hotel for a pop-up BPM party. We arrived just in time to catch a rainbow and munch on some tacos before the sunset, which is when the party really started to pop off. The beach bled into yet another tiki-esque hut which housed a bevy of rotating DJs. Truthfully, I haven’t a single clue who the DJs were, but when it comes to a deep house party, it’s really more about the crowd and the setting than it is about the DJ. The music was on point, the vibes were right, and I couldn’t have been happier that I had made my way down to Tulum that day.
BPM Pop-up Party in Tulum. Photo by Marjana Jaidi for Cultivora.com.
We headed back to Playa around midnight and once again hit up Blue Parrot, exiting our house at around 4:30 a.m.–the latest I think I’ve ever left to go to a party–to hear the sounds of the king of classic New York house music, Danny Tenaglia. At around 5 a.m., Danny stopped the music and said “what do you guys want to hear? Deep house or techno?” The deep house yells were definitely louder, but he responded with “well, I’m going to play both anyway.” His deep-techno hybrid set continued until 6 a.m., when unfortunately the venue was forced to shut down just as the sun was coming up. Danny took to the mic again and announced the bad news, stating “I was planning on playing ’til noon for you guys, but it looks like it can’t happen. Who wants to move this party to Acapulco?” We’re not sure that’s the right move, but it’s clear BPM has some hoops to jump through if it’s going to keep the venues open as late as it has in previous years.
Danny Tenaglia at Blue Parrot. Photo by Danilo Lewis for TheBPMFestival.com.
The final day of BPM was mostly spent in relaxation by our pool deck, with a brief outing to (surprise!) Blue Parrot to check out the closing party with Marco Carola and Leon. Admittedly, our legs would barely hold up our tired bodies at this point, and we left after an hour of making a concerted effort to dance our “BPM’s over” blues away. The day party with the most in attendance was certainly the closing party at Mamita’s, which included the last minute addition of Art Department after their Blue Venado party was canceled the night before. Given the large crowds, the early end to Innervisions, and the cancellation of the No. 19 event, is it possible that Blue Venado has jumped the shark? We sure hope not–it would be a monumental disappointment if BPM were not allowed to use the venue in 2016.
We at LessThan3 imagine there are many of you out there who have grown tired of the homogeneous, fist-pumping madness that you’ve been subjected to ad nauseam at most of the EDM events around the country. If this sounds like you, BPM is an excellent next step into the deeper realms of electronic music. In this realm, the DJ is not a rockstar, but rather a facilitator of an experience that is reliant on the attendees around you and the quality of the music. Blinding lightshows and jukebox-style track curation are nowhere to be found, only the roots of what made dance music rise to prominence in the first place–the people and the music. Join us next year?