The BPM Festival 2016 Highlights

As I write this recap, there's a giant snow storm engulfing everything in site on the East Coast. It's quite the opposite scene of a week ago, when I was in Playa del Carmen, Mexico for the BPM Festival. 

I don't know if I was more excited to be in Mexico and a warm place or the festival itself. I had never been to Mexico and was dying to see Playa del Carmen. So when a friend of mine said she was going, I was like...yep getting my ticket now! 

We went for the closing BPM weekend to catch the last three days of parties and then stayed an extra day to relax.

Some things I liked most about BPM:

1) It was in beautiful Playa del Carmen, Mexico (duh). I also got to put another stamp in my passport which I was pretty excited about. 

2) The wristbands. Rather than buying separate tickets for various parties, you pay a flat fee for the weekend or days that you're attending and then get a wristband to wear for the duration of the festival. That wristband granted you access to every and any party as well as easy reentry. It had a scanner on it so you go to the door, get scanned and then boom you're in. Easy system.

3) Relaxed vibes. The atmosphere of BPM was pretty low-key compared to other big festivals. The music is not EDM noisy bells and whistles, so don't attend thinking you're going to hear big room electronic music. The festival showcases mostly techno DJs that have a minimal, percussion-based style. Think less melodic, more beat driven. This more toned-down mentality translated to laid-back day parties near the beach  and night parties with moody, deep beats. Personally, techno music isn't my favorite genre of dance music (it's not melodic enough for me) but I appreciate BPM's deep tech glory and I always love exploring new artists. 

4) Free wi-fi. This feature was especially nice since I was in a foreign country and didn't pay for an international phone plan. 

During our first night, we started at a club venue called the Blue Parrot to see Luciano. We got to Blue Parrot WAY too early and so we had a drink there and then went to another club called La Santanera for the Octopus Recordings party. Oliver Huntemann's slightly dark, downbeat set was definitely a highlight, giving us a taste of Germany's techno sound.

En route back to Blue Parrot for Luciano, I noticed that my wallet was no longer in my purse. Sooo that was basically the end of night #1 for me. 

In La Santanera after my wallet disappeared! Still had a good time though. 

Leave your sins at the door of La Santanera. 

Day #2, we hit up the RUMORS day party at an outdoor venue on the beach. We caught the tail-end of Behrouz's set and then witnessed Bob Moses' breathtaking showcase. The Canadian DJ-duo paired live vocals with balmy music and it was honestly the best performance at BPM in my opinion. There was something about Bob Moses' airy vocals and dreamy beats in the whimsical, warm setting....ahh heaven. Amazing amazing. I was so thankful to see them live finally. 

Bob Moses at the RUMORS BPM day party.

That night we were at The Jungle. Known as the "festival within a festival", the YA'AH MUUL party was amped with multiple stages, tire swings, various outdoor seating lounges and a massive headphone structure. See photos below. 

For the last day of BPM (Day #3), we checked out the Yoshitoshi day party at Wah Wah Beach Bar. We caught the last few minutes of EDX's set and my ears warmed up to his melodic house sound that I love - a nice alternative from the previous bass driven, tech DJ sets. Sharam was the main act, unleashing his deep house sound mixed with a bit of techno. 

EDX at the Yoshitoshi party during the BPM Festival. 

We were behind the decks for Sharam's BPM Festival set. 

Sharam at the Yoshitoshi party during the BPM Festival.

For BPM's closing night party we got in the MOOD for non-other than the Queen of Techno, Nicole Moudaber. We were exhausted from the Yoshitoshi party but it was the last night of BPM and I'd never seen Nicole play, so we dragged our butts over to Blue Parrot. At 3am, Nicole finally made her appearance in her edgy, deep techno glory laying out the darkest, moodiest of beats. I only lasted till 4:30am but she played non-stop till 6:30am delivering her much anticipated techy set to the BPM crowds.  

If you were at BPM, I hope you enjoyed the festival and Mexico as much as I did! Below I've posted some more photos of our trip. We stayed an extra day in Mexico and made a side trip to Tulum to see some Mayan ruins and swim in a cenote, a natural swimming hole that had the clearest and most blue water. 

The view from our hotel rooftop in Playa del Carmen. We stayed at the beautiful Hotel Cacao. 

Another hotel rooftop view.

Mayan ruins in Tulum. 

Scenic Tulum. 

More Mayan ruins. 

Article by Layal Brown

Photos by Layal Brown with contributions from Kim Mancini