BPM 2016 – So We Tripped To The Mayan Riviera, And…
Late December 2015 – As our annual flight of party-goers yet again glided in for a landing at Cancun International Airport, we could already sense that the 2016 edition of The BPM Festival was going to be different and exciting. Gazing out of the window and over the tarmac to the airport control tower, we caught our first sights of the Bud Light logo, the festival’s newest corporate sponsor. The new sponsor signaled an anxious anticipation of change, and a hope for continuation of the excellent festival execution for which The BPM Festival is deservedly famous. As attendees of BPM for almost every year running, we were eager to see what revelry the new beer partnership would help spawn.
As we have noted in one of our in previous pieces, we believe that The BPM Festival is at the forefront of delivering and organically growing a festival model that is economically sustainable in the long haul. Year in and year out at BPM, smart decisions, precise planning and forward thinking lead to a consistently unforgettable festival experience, and we expected this year to be no different. As we would later ascertain, we vastly underestimated 2016’s additions.
At TT, we feel obliged to pay appropriate homage to the unique urban layout of the festival. Couple this with the sizzling hedonism of Playa del Carmen, global reputation of BPM’s stellar musical programming, careful line-up arrangement and vast array of exotic venues, you behold some of the most valuable assets of the festival. As BPM ages and grows, the various attributes of the festival continue to seamlessly adapt to the needs of the ever expanding and diversifying customer base.
This diverse customer base and ever evolving partnership selection is a direct result of what some consider the corporatization of electronic music. Most notable over the past decade, the phenomenon has sparked controversial debates across every aspect of the industry. The purists will tell you that real DJs only spin vinyl, the “progressives” will tell you that a SL-1200 is the newest luxury car model and then there’s everyone in-between. Regardless of which camp you’re in, everyone does share the common love for a great party, and every January many of us gather together in the sunny beach town of Playa del Carmen, Mexico for The BPM Festival. Though it may seem as if we’re mentioning “corporatization” as an unfavorable extension of the world that we know and love, our conclusion is that it doesn’t have to be. The BPM Festival is a perfect illustration of mindful growth, and careful direction of the way the influences of corporatization are felt on the dance floor.
Evolution excitingly ensures diversity, variation and subsequent adaptation. The slow and entrenched will die out, as the agile and adaptable will survive and flourish. These principles work no differently in the electronic music world. Main stage artists who were compensated unfathomable amounts two years ago are long gone, and events that seemed revolutionary at the time of their inception have faded. As Techno Tourists, we have had the privilege of experiencing some of the world’s most fascinating events, but will only continuously return to those that tickle our neurons in just the right way. BPM gives us this particular satisfaction, for 10 straight days, every single year. In the past, we have explored the incredible parties of BPM (1) (2) (3), the pristine location and the remarkable festival experience. This year’s edition of BPM brought Techno Tourist’s experience to the next level, as they exhibited their propensity to dominate the festival kingdom.
Mamita’s, a popular BPM venue, was not on the menu for 2016. Martina and WahWah were more than adequate replacements, and a change of scenery from previous years was both refreshing and reviving. Our usual favorite venues Canibal Royal, La Santanera and Blue Parrot maintained their status as such, and the Apollonia party on the Thompson hotel rooftop was nothing short of ridiculous.
Shortly after the 10 days of debauchery began, buzz began to spread throughout Playa of the annual, unique treat, which BPM had prepared. This year, it was The Jungle. A short 250-peso cab ride (if you had an honest cab driver) from the town center, this expansive complex hosted a massive “typical” festival tent, with preposterous lighting/visuals and absolutely absurd sound. Excellent selection of food trucks, check. Side stage with mainstage vibe, check. Highly organized cab system for safe return voyage to the center of Playa, check. The Jungle was full of party animals, and party they did.
Why mention corporatization earlier? We will rarely, if ever, mention a non-TT partner by name, but BPM and their sponsors deserve a shout-out. The Jungle exhibited a prime example of corporatization done right, as each alcohol sponsor provided a unique lounge for partiers to relax when taking intermittent breaks from wild dancing and general revelry. Rather than generating the blatant, in your face adverting spam that festivalgoers are used to, each brand created an enticing oasis you couldn’t even stop yourself from desiring to explore.
In our hearts, BPM is and always will be the most prominent underground festival globally. As any event grows though, it is understandable that they must take on larger corporate sponsors in order to sustain that growth. Kudos to The BPM Festival for doing this artfully, in a way that could tingle tastes across the spectrum, while remaining in its essence, one magical journey for all.
We look forward to next year’s BPM, when we celebrate the festival’s 10th anniversary.
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