Sunday, January 10, 2010

Some Words on Playa del Carmen - BMP Festival

‘Start as you mean to go on’ is a mantra that instructs one to begin a new enterprise by acting and sounding as if it were already a success. And visitors to Playa Del Carmen for the first week of 2010 have been sleeping easily knowing that they have set the bar for clubbing for the next decade extremely high.

Now in its third year the BPM Festival has steadily been establishing itself as a ‘must-do’ on the clubbing calendar and with a strap line and mission statement of ‘escape the winter doldrums and head for the Mayan sun for beats and beach fun’ it is little wonder the festival has been attracting not only clubbers from across Canada, the United States and Europe, but also artists at the forefront of electronic music.

More than 20,000 party goers descended on the resort town of Playa Del Carmen over the course of the 10 day event this year. And with a seemingly impossible schedule of 30 parties meaning an almost 24 hour party policy which comprises 70 DJs spinning the best of house and techno in an abundance of backdrops, including the miles of white sandy Caribbean facing beaches, it is hardly surprising the festival is gathering an increasingly substantial army of followers year on year.

The music policy is strictly house and techno and allows for a full spectrum of artists and promoters to visit and work within the format outlined buy the BPM organisers. This year most of the day parties were held at the Kool beach resort beginning at around brunch time and running through to 8 or 9pm. The dance area is set around a pool which flows out onto the beach. The sound, supplied by Acoustic Project, was more than up to scratch for an external system and could be heard for some distance outside the resort. Daily parties at the beach included clubbing mecca Space Miami fronted by Luis Puig and Frenchman Cedric Gervais; a party with Cielo resident Nicolas Matar and Californian based Marques Wyatt and a whole host of upcoming stars from the Canadian and New York underground scene including Nitin Kaylan, Monsieur Cedric, dance temptress Lauren Lane and the nefarious Michelangelo among others. And with the likes of dance music monolith Hed Kandi in attendance one can begin to see why BPM is holding its weight on the global festival scene.

Elsewhere parties were held in the lavish surroundings of the Blucacao Beach Club which meant a short complimentary bus trip outside of the normal party zone, and saw the likes of Jojo Flores playing out he soulful take on house music. The Freak N Chic Label party brought Parisian favourites Shonky, Anthony Collins and Steve Letigre’s deep house across the Atlantic whilst Brazil’s Ana Paula brought a little carnival style flair and samba flavoured house music.
From the day one could segue into the evening to continue the party at a number of parties in some really impressive and at times intimate venues. The Blue Parrot beach club (complete with sand inside) was decked up to the nines to complement its beach front location with giant fluorescent jellyfish and electronic visuals to the same effect. This was the setting for nights headlined by the legendary Dubfire who brought his jet-black polished-chrome techno; purveyor of dark twisted house Steve Lawler; and global phenomenon Steve Angello.

Brahma club with its spacecraft lighting feature played host to Air London’s Nick Curly and Simon Baker. Curly’s fast growing profile was further enhanced as his Mannheim sound went down a storm following Baker’s tech house explosion. Sander Kleinenberg also delivered a memorable set here on the opening night which set the tone for the week.
La Santanera’s boudoir-esque décor played host to parties headed up by NYC tribal and techno titan Victor Calderone, Israeli techno export Guy Gerber, second-wave Detroit don Stacey Pullen, and even late addition to the programming British born Lee Burridge!

A wide plethora of artists comprised the line up this year in an attempt to deliver something for all dance music aficionados. And staying true to their roots the programmers deliver a fantastic mix of high profile DJs whilst supporting the up and coming artists from America and Canada.

For those who prefer to operate outside of the ‘hardcore party goer’ realm the BPM Festival and Playa Del Carmen offer a host of ‘extra-cirricular’ activities for those who wish to supplement their trip. Many visitors take advantage of the phenomenal diving opportunities on offer along the Mayan Riveria, and a short drive south of Playa are the breathtaking Mayan ruins near Tulum which serve as a perfect respite from the festival for many attendees.

Being perfectly situated 45 minutes from tourist hotspot Cancun, Playa Del Carmen is a perfect blend of traditional welcoming Mexican community mixed with the right amount Americanisation to make visitors feel at home away from home. Recognisable commercial outposts such as Starbucks and Burger King sit easily next to family run Mexican eateries that serve up the tastiest of Mexican cooking including perhaps the best burritos to guacamole.

The BPM Festival enjoys an easy relationship with the locals as the opening welcome note from the local Mayor in the festival programme attests. And with VIP passes not only including entrance to 30+ events during the BPM Festival (with VIP entrance and VIP Stage Access) but also VIP discounts at local stores & restaurants in Playa del Carmen you begin to realise that this does not have to be bank busting trip.

As Steve Lawler said following his third BPM set ‘it was insane, has an amazing vibe, with beautiful people. The BPM Festival is now an annual event for VIVa MUSiC and myself, see you next year” – if you have not already, we suggest you join him.

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