The BPM Festival 2014: Location, Location, Location

With the sound of a successful Jambox pairing overpowering a backdrop of crashing waves, the first weekend of January 2014 officially rolled in. The Techno Tourist team joyfully spread our custom-made party-packs over the apartment to the soundtrack of the New Year, a new Dino set. We jammed while organizing the t-shirts, toothbrushes, stickers, and snacks among other important necessities: earplugs, beach balls, snacks and of course…beer. These gifts greet our customers upon arrival to their accommodation in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. To parallel the success and growth of The BPM Festival, our business has expanded to include a record-number of travelling techno tourists.  Ironically, or maybe not so ironically, BPM is also where Techno Tourist was conceived in 2011.  As we prepared to meet our first wave of guests, we mused over the three things that make The BPM Festival one of our favorite parties of the year. After much philosophical debate, it was decided that the awesomeness of the festival boils down to the following related, yet distinct ideas: location, location, and …location.

Location: The Setting

As professional travelers, connoisseurs of fine music and food, and lovers of art and architecture, we set our standards high. We are keen on detail and love when the vibe of the party is something that dances its way to you. Our first theme, location, describes just this. Playa del Carmen, Mexico is the perfect playpen for multi-week music-infused partying, vacationing, and general ‘winter’ enjoyment. Throughout the years, The BPM Festival has consistently shown the ability to expand and adapt in order to exceed festivalgoers expectations while maintaining a credible, underground feeling.  One of the most frequent issues we see with multi-day urban festivals is that even though the events seem to grow bigger and bigger every year, the cities themselves remain unaltered. Playa manages to preserve its unique charm and authentic Mexican feel while embodying a true sense of growth, thereby meeting the needs of both the festival and its clientele. New restaurants seem to materialize regularly. This year, you could just as easily stumble into an establishment serving fresh juice, FroYo, or sushi, as you could stumble to our classically coveted authentic Mexican joint, El Fogon.

Location: The Stages

As all members of the TT team spend most of the year living and clubbing in our cold and rainy hometowns (NYC and London), The BPM Festival is a dream-come-true, and not just because a Mexican Peso goes a lot further than a US Dollar or British Pound. We can do just what we love, but in a bathing suit, in the sunshine, and oftentimes, with sand between our toes. The location and venue set-up suit the different times of day and different types of moods in which you might lose yourself throughout the 10-day extravaganza. A significant organizational improvement this year developed with the bracelet distribution system. In less than a half an hour, with beats from Mamitas Beach Club grabbing you from one end and those from Kool Beach grinding on the other, you could secure your bracelet with minimal fuss. In fact, with the music pumping from all ends, it felt like our vacation had already begun. Normally, when waiting in a line, just teetering at the threshold of fun, you are rationally planning the next 8-10 hours of your life, just to pass the time. At The BPM Festival, however, your life has already begun, time is happening, and not only that… it has plans to carry-on for the next 8-10 days.

Of the legendary original BPM venues, only Blue Parrot, Kool Beach, and Mamita’s Beach Club still host events.  This year, we were introduced to Fusion, an intimate beach venue for daytime parties and Tabu, a medium-capacity tiered indoor venue resembling a type of medieval-times dinner theater. Acting as a stand-in for Canibal Royal is no easy task, but the BPM team successfully transformed Fusion into a more than adequate replacement. Tabu hosted the events that we would normally expect at La Santanera, and again proved not only a fitting replacement, but also a fresh change of pace from previous years.

Although the first few days did see some rain, the festival management arranged shelters at the outdoor venues to ensure that no one missed a beat. With a “polar vortex” pummeling North America with snow, hardly any festivalgoers seemed to mind a bit of moisture in the Mexican air as long as their favorite artists were behind the decks.  The number of parties increased this year, so the crowed was spread out, which managed the space with higher levels of comfort. One amazing exception to this rule, however, was the massive turn out for the Dot Up party at El Fogon. This event gained more popularity than any of us could imagine. We slowly watched the crowed grow larger and larger until we were swept away in the sea of clubbers consuming every lane of traffic heading west on Av Constituyentes. Every car that tried to pass, did so slowly, and with their iPhones joyfully vineing and snapping from a rolled-down window. Even the Policia gave up and started dancing. It was an authentic BPM night, all flavored by the smell of sizzling, smoking pork and pineapple. This was a type of experience you could not just stumble into anywhere, …other than yours truly: Playa Del Carmen.

Location: Your Stay

The last dimension of our overall location theme looks directly at the variety of living quarters available to festivalgoers at BPM. Travelers can opt to rent an apartment or villa, whereas hotels and condo-hotels are up for grabs too. We find the best way to maximize the BPM experience is to rent a large apartment or villa that houses your entire group of friends. The way that everybody can lodge together, rather than spread out in different hotels across an expansive city, is unique. The summertime feel, in the beginning of January, is unrivaled. The large spaces make for a perfect pre-game spot—one where gigantic brunches can be made, BBQs can be had, pool-parties can be splashed, and terraces can be danced on. Not to mention, they make for perfect after-party destinations, one where you can actually retire to your room (or a raft in the pool) when a moment of respite is necessitated. Additionally, these spaces can afford more auditory privacy, and in some properties, private beachfront access.

While some large festivals lose focus of their original mission in favor of chasing larger monetary returns, The BPM Festival stays true to its original form. This element of originality and adaptability attracts visitors from every demographic imaginable.  Each year we are amazed at the diversity of new customers booking trips to Playa and love making such international friends during the first week of January. The common thread tying everyone together is a deep-rooted passion for great parties and acceptance of nothing less than exceptional music. In all, the location of the festival, the location of each venue, and the location of our accommodation granted us an unforgettable 10 days of debauchery.  For yet another year, the festival proved their ability to execute flawlessly and kick off the new year on a very positive and inspirational note. BPM is the one festival we attend each year that really brings people together in a party-ready, vacation-sweaty kind of way. And the best part, the water is never too far away.