the bpm festival 2013: review

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it’s been a hot minute since the bpm festival and i think i’m finally recovering from my playa withdrawls – my return to montreal was a rocky one (one in which i hung out on the floor of my bathroom, writing news stories for work in between bouts of stomach flu) (pity me!), and the freezing temperatures didn’t help: dancing at igloofest my first weekend back felt surreal in comparison. it was more than a 60 degree difference in dancefloor temperature. 60 degrees. i’m still reeling from the fact that that’s even possible.


a little tINI for yer ears

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what an incredible week. i’ve been whining for a while now that i desperately needed a vacation from the constant deadlines that fill my every day. my trip to mexico was one of the best weeks i can remember, with some of the best people in the world. it was entirely the definition of freedom, and i can genuinely say i was smiling ear to ear the whole time. the BPM festival restored my faith in electronic music – it is living proof that true electronic music lovers still exist in the world beyond the over-hyped “EDM” scene made trendy by mainstream media.

i danced, i drank, i met some amazing new friends, i shared some perfect moments with old friends…it was the cure for the all the pain i’d been in the last couple months. it’s true what they say, that the cure for everything really is salt water: sweat, tears and the ocean.

too mushy? do you guys feel all warm and fuzzy inside? yeah, me neither. on to the good stuff! if i had to countdown every amazing party at bpm, we’d be here all day, so here are my top moments. read on, and try to contain your jealousy.

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MARK HENNING at MAMITAS BEACH CLUB

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this was the first event we attended. we had crazy high hopes. we got there early to scope out the scene, and met some very interesting characters (trust me) – and to be honest, the day seemed like it was off to a slow start. even though the music was good, the dancefloor was pretty tame. all of that changed when mark henning took the stage. henning is one of my favourites, and he delivered a bass-driven, thundering mix of techno goodness that was beyond a testament to his skills as a producer and a DJ. he had the crowd boogying so hard that even he was breaking a sweat. despite being tired (and sober), we had a killer time. the perfect start to our week.

MIKE SHANNON at CANNIBAL ROYAL

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after spending part of our day trapped in the crowds at kool beach and mamitas, it was a relief to arrive at cannibal royal for mike shannon and the mole. the bpm festival in its entirety was composed of huge parties that hovered somewhere between commercial and underground, and we were lucky to take part in the latter. it was more intimate settings like this one that showcased some truly underappreciated talent (with, thankfully, enough room to boogie it out properly on the dancefloor). mike shannon, notorious for his rapidfire mixing and his chugging techno-fueled sets, knocked it out with clean, smooth beats and his charmingly shy demeanor.

DANNY TENAGLIA & ART DEPARTMENT at THE BLUE PARROT

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(not the blue parrot, but i didn’t have any appropriate photos, so just pretend)

this was the closing party of the festival, at the blue parrot, an open air club in the heart of playa del carmen. despite it being packed wall-to-wall, we managed to find our own little nook. i’ve heard both tenaglia and art department spin live before, and though both were great, i went into the event with low expectations, music-wise. i wasn’t blown away by either performance, but the party was one of those nights you remember forever. new friends, dancing, shots of cognac (apparently) and all the silliness. the awesomeness ended promptly when we had to get on a very turbulent plane ride the next day, on an hour and a half of sleep. it was not cute.

DVDOS at THE FAMILY TREE: CENOTE VERDE LUCERO

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i know this doesn’t technically count since it wasn’t a bpm event, but thanks to a new friend, we discovered a really intimate little party in a cenote just outside of playa. a cenote, or a sinkhole, is a natural depression in the earth’s surface caused by something science related that i don’t care about at all. the point is, that typically these depressions catch surface drainage, which often results in the formation of a small lake (thank you wiki) in the jungle. probably not the actual jungle, but for the purposes of awesomeness, that’s what i’m calling it. the party was thrown by a couple guys that run a music imprint out of brooklyn and tulum called MNMLKTCHN, and it was definitely one of the trip’s highlights. an unbelievably beautiful landscape (we watched the sunrise over the jungle, and ziplined into the cenote) paired with the chillest group of people i’ve ever met, topped with one of the best sets of the entire trip. MNMLKTCHN boys santiago and daniel, also known as DVDOS, brought the house down with energetic beats and ineffable charisma, following up a solid set from lee jones, the event’s guest DJ. the vibes at this party were the icing on the cake: i’ve never met a more down to earth group of people. everyone was there with the same love of music and it showed in the way they moved, interacted, spoke, danced.

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NATHAN BARATO at ALUX CAVE

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sorry that this photo sucks but you get the idea

pretty sure this does not need any more precursor, other than the fact that it was nathan fucking barato in a fucking CAVE. A CAVE, you guys. it was so cavey and ravey. on the real though, nathan werked it all out, toronto style, with a bumpin set – dropping in a little goodie, can you hear me? from his new EP the sub of queen west (released not too long ago on stacey pullen’s blackflag recordings). we went non stop on the dfloor, and barato kept the energy high! plus, it was a cave, i mean, come on.

tINI & THE GANG AT CANNIBAL ROYAL

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the queen herself! this was the party i was waiting for, and i was truly blown away. despite a few technical difficulties (not her fault) tINI‘s set was flawless. feeding off the crowd, she brought out the best in the dancefloor with her sultry, sinuous deeptech powered by bouncy, housey, organic basslines. magic. the berlin native has this surreal way of making her sound so addictive, you can almost taste it, it’s that sweet. the gang kept it real too – bill patrick was another highlight, and all in all, the party was the best event at bpm (for me, anyway). it didn’t hurt that i rocked it out in a tutu on the damn beach, people.

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i would go back to BPM in a heartbeat. it was worth every penny – it was the escape i needed from reality. maybe all vacations are the kind of place you can just “be,” but mexico and BPM were so free from stress and sadness and the mundane reality of the every day….it was a completely surreal experience. i’ve said it before but..i left my heart at the BPM festival <3

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13 thoughts on “the bpm festival 2013: review

  1. Good review from Cenote Party, but I must correct it.
    The previous set to Lee Jones was done by Fanfarrosa, mexican artist living in Berlin. DVdos played a great day set after Konstanine Herr Chorienda.

    Great party!

    • thanks for reading! i wasn’t on the dancefloor for every second of the cenote party, though, so i wrote about the acts that i was present for. i didn’t have sufficient info to write about the sets you mentioned – thanks for letting me know though. hope you had as much fun as i did! xx

  2. Thanks for your review!
    I’ve done a few big festivals like ultra and most recently boom in portugal, id like to do BPM next year. especially after reading how its restored you faith in electronic music. i could use some of that right now, especially after living in ottawa! I assume BPM is kinda like wmc? lots of events scattered across the city? getting to and from anything in miami was absolutely INSANE because of the 150,000 ravers that flooded downtown, whats it like at BPM? do you have any advice on festival logistics?
    any insight would be really appreciated!!

    • dw, there are generally only 3 daytime venues (Kool Beach, Mammita’s & Canibal Royal) and 3 nighttime venues (small La Santanera, medium sized Coco-Maya and larger Blue Parrot) and all 6 of these venues are within walking distance of most condo’s or hotels in downtown Playa del Carmen. BPM also has a couple parties a little further away from downtown Playa, like at Alux Cave and Blue Venado Beach Club, but they are still within 20 min taxi ride.

      This year was definitely much more crowded compared with my 3 prior BPM festivals. Lots of quality music and smiling faces. If you’ve never been, it’s a great way to start out the new year.

    • hey dw! sorry for the late reply! and thanks for reading.

      like stevo said, i heard that this year was much more crowded than previous years – i also heard that this year’s beach venues had significantly less space because the hurricanes of 2012 had moved the oceanline in (if you know what i mean?) (although that could easily be something made up haha)

      otherwise, like stevo said, the venues are small but they’re open air so it never felt too crowded, with the exception of kool beach which for felt crowded always. cannibal royal was among my top venues, because it was always the least packed and was where a lot of the more underground DJs were playing. alux cave was fun too but very warm (although not as warm as everyone was saying it would be).

      generally, if you don’t like to be right up against the DJ booth, and prefer having your own space to dance (like me), the crowds won’t be an issue if you just hang back a little and find your own spot. there was also a couple parties outside downtown playa, as stevo mentioned (alux cave, blue venado, cenote verde lucero etc) which were all under a 15 USD cab ride away (cabs were dirt cheap there)

      friends of mine rented a condo on the main strip, but my crew and i chose to stay at an all inclusive resort about a 9 USD cab ride away from the festival sites – so that we wouldn’t have to worry about food, cleaning, alcohol etc….it was the best decision. not much more expensive than the condo, and none of us got sick on the trip (in comparison to my friends with the condo, all of whom got sick).

      that being said, we only had VIP wristbands for the last 3 days and paid to get into other parties during the week – bad call. i definitely suggest getting a 10 day VIP wristband, as early as possible (we met some guys who had gotten theirs early at only 350 USD), it’s so worth it to be able to bounce between parties and not be forced to stay at a venue because you paid so much for the ticket. single event tickets went up to 100 USD some nights and the wait to get into without a wristband was astronomical. definitely worth the extra money to get VIP access.

      i definitely definitely suggest making it out for BPM 2014. i had the best time. hope that helps!! xo

      • dw bpm is nothing like the commercial scene of ultra. ive been to wmc 3 times. after going to bpm all the major festivals in the u.s. are like fukin daycares

  3. Awesome post! I’m writing about how I wish I was there this year and found your post. SO nice to see there’s other girls out there who love good electronic music. Glad I found your blog!

    • oh trust me, i wish i was there this year too. i did hear that it’s been raining almost the entire time this year though, so i have that to keep me warm at night while i cry myself to sleep for missing kollektiv turmstrasse live in fucking playa ;)

      great to meet another lady with great taste in music and fashion, as evidenced by your stellar blog <3 big big love! x

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