The BPM Festival–actually, the BPM Experience. No combination of words can begin to describe the beauty, the feeling, the vibe of the Riviera Maya during those magical January days. Alas, we here at LessThan3 are in the business of describing, and so we’ll do our very best to both satisfy the appetites of festival veterans and entice the uninitiated to join us in 2014.
THE BPM EXPERIENCE
Arriving in downtown Playa is a wondrous scene on its own–soothing house music billows from colorful storefronts, the scent of fresh food signaling a taqueria on every corner. Walking down 5th Avenue toward the many clubs, it’s easy to get lost in a shop full of trinkets, or in conversation with a friendly local. The festival is welcomed every year with open arms in the idyllic Mexican town, like a staple of the culture rather than a foreign intrusion. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the music on display at BPM is among the world’s finest.
Such a heady lineup wouldn’t be complete without the perfect venues, and Playa del Carmen’s club variety was one of BPM’s many highlights. No deep house beat was wasted on the sandy dancefloor of the Canibal Royal, nor on the beach-view balcony of the Coco Maya; techno reigned supreme at the massive Blue Parrot, and aural voodoo was on hand every night at La Santanera, while Mamita’s and Kool Beach had dancers swaying with the refreshing ocean breeze. And who can forget the mystery of Alux Cave, or Blue Venado’s jungle spirit?
Sound was on point as well, with Sonic Lab Audio providing some of the finest festival and club sound we’ve ever heard. The venues were an audiophile’s dream, and discerning fans danced from sunrise to sunset to sunrise again, keeping BPM’s party going for a beautiful 10 days.
BEST DAY PARTY
Both of these parties were brilliant in their own way. Dirtybird vs. Pets had one of the strongest lineups of the festival–J. Phlip’s breakbeat-laden house, Danny Daze’s electro-tinged grooves, Eats Everything’s monster set (more on that in a few), Catz ‘n Dogz’ rave-fueled vibes, and Justin Martin’s “let’s-get-hyphy” bounce. All corners of the Canibal Royal were packed for this one, and the dirty dancing didn’t stop until long after the sun went down. All Day I Dream was a more subdued, more mesmerizing affair. From the surreal way the wind whipped those signature tapestries and “cloud” lamps to the spellbinding sets by Christian Löffler and Lee Burridge, everything was as we’d hoped: a dream.
Honorable Mention: tINI and The Gang / This Is The End
BEST NIGHT PARTY
The Blue Venado’s only party was one of the festival’s finest thanks to a Crosstown Rebels takeover. An intense jungle night with Masters At Work turned to a striking beach sunrise when Damian Lazarus took hold, dropping unreleased bombs onto a packed dancefloor of painted faces and happy feet.
Honorable Mention: Circo Loco / Innervisions
Tie: Eats Everything / Dixon / Damian Lazarus
Each of these three had us wanting more. Eats Everything glided seamlessly from deep house to hip hop to drum ‘n bass to dubstep and back to house, with a cheeky Nelly throwback that had everyone sweating. Damian commandeered the sun, the waves, and the dancefloor with his deep crate of eclectic jams. And Dixon…well, what can we say about Dixon? We couldn’t help but be awestruck by the emotive melodies pulsing through the Coco Maya.
OUTSIDE THE FESTIVAL
With so much to do at BPM it’s a wonder that we ever left at all, but there was plenty going on outside of the city. The pristine beaches of Tulum were home to parties thrown by Robot Heart and Resolute, and even the festival headliners were not immune to the magic of these events. Mayan ruins and sacred cenotes made for popular destinations as well, their beauty drawing the interest of curious explorers with ears that needed a bit of rest. Even the simple joy of eating a fresh ceviche while watching the waves became a memory to cherish. And of course, New York’s amazing Verboten family did what they do best, playing host to a collection of top-tier DJs that included Bill Patrick, Matt Tolfrey, jozif, and Rami Deejay.
BEST UNOFFICIAL PARTY
MNMLKTCHN Presents: Family Tree Cenote
Not many experiences can top zip-lining into a jungle cenote (underwater sinkhole) while some of the smoothest house fills the air. This party went down from 7pm Tuesday to 4pm Wednesday, and there was no wrong time to arrive–the beauty of it all was unbelievable.
The vibe, the music, the clubs, the sound–all of these things make BPM a can’t-miss on the yearly festival circuit. But perhaps the most important aspect of BPM is the people–the thousands of strangers that quickly become close friends, exchanging smiles and laughs with the strike of each kick. BPM Festival is for the devoted fans, and these fans will be getting down in Playa for many years to come.
THINGS WE’LL NEVER FORGET
Circo Loco sunrise / organic bananas / sunrise with Dubfire / Cenote Verde Lucero / Dirtybird vs. Pets / keta-microphone / acting caj / tacos / Anabel Englund / Verboten yoga / Dixon and Henrik Schwarz / the Mayan ruins of Tulum / Papaya Playa / Burro Playero / All Day I Dream / chocolate Mimosa / losing shoes / Wallace the house rodent / Bob Moses / Rebel Rave sunrise / finding shoes / Seth’s speech / the friends we made along the way / BPM Festival 2013
Keep it locked on LessThan3 for more BPM Festival coverage, including exclusive interviews!
Photo credit: Oliver Correa for Cultivora.com