It’s Friday. You’ve just landed in Cancun. The first week of the new year has just gone by, but tonight is when your new year really steps into gear. You’re here to celebrate the ninth year of The BPM Festival.
The glass doors slide open and a rush of humidity reminds you how long it’s been since you’ve felt this warm. And to spend fewer Januaries in New York. As you leave the terminal and get in line for the bus to Playa Del Carmen you can tell right away who’s here for BPM. Eager to talk with someone about techno, you make some new friends and split a shuttle to downtown. Now the journey begins.
After an hour of good conversation and acclimating to the sight of palm trees, you arrive in Playa Del Carmen. You settle into your place, relax for a bit, then make your way to the beach just in time to catch the sunset. This is the view you came here for. A combination of advice from friends and Reddit leads you to a place with excellent chorizo, and then, satiated, you get a little lost before finally finding the BPM will call by Mamita’s. Wristband secured, you follow the music.
Your first night takes you to Blue Parrot, a musical estuary where the heart of downtown nightlife meets the sea. This intersection of the beach and one of the busiest streets makes it hard not to naturally flow to Blue Parrot. As do the sounds of Sasha, who’s leading the charge on the opening night. You enter and find yourself under the roof of what feels like a towering thatched hut, thirty feet tall, covering a dance floor that spills into an open air club. The dance floor is packed, but you find plenty of room as you venture further back, towards the beach. The sound of the waves almost seem to synchronize with each measure of melodic house.
You wake up the next morning and remember that what you experienced last night is just one half of what The BPM Festival has to offer. Now it’s time for the day parties. This is where BPM shines, in both senses of the word. You’re immersed in the beauty of the Caribbean, the white sand and the sapphire water, while dancing to some of the best music alongside the best fans in the world. And this is all within walking distance of downtown, equally as beautiful by day as it is by night. You spend the day with the likes of Lee Burridge and Oonah Dahl with All Day I Dream at Martina Beach, dancing in the sand.
Tonight’s a big night. You’re not sure exactly where this party will be held; the intrigue keeps you anticipating all night. When the time comes, you make your way to the shuttle pick up and hop into a line of shuttles heading out from the city. It’s much harder to tell where you’re going at night. Twenty minutes later, you reach your destination and step out into the jungle.
You’re at Ya’ah Muul. You pass through the gate and make your way through the trees, stepping into an open expanse that makes you feel like you’re on a movie set. This is one of the premiere parties in the world. This festival-within-a-festival splits in two directions: the main stage to the right and a corridor of lights and art beyond. Apollonia’s about to take the Palapa stage, so you take a left and experience a groovy set that feels so at home in the jungle.
Next up is one of the most anticipated acts of The BPM Festival: Paul Kalkbrenner. You make your way up to the front of the packed yet courteous crowd. The main stage projects, and looks, like a conch shell, or even a clam, with a shiny German pearl peaking over the lip. Kalkbrenner, making his BPM debut and riding the waves from his album release just a few months prior, plays the set of a lifetime. Even with a blown generator that led to a 20-minute pause in the music. An established legend makes way for a rising legend as Karm from Tale of Us takes the stage next, filling our ears and our souls with dark, romantic techno. He opens with an unreleased track by Pisetzky, then takes us on a journey deep into the night. Luciano closes out Ya’ah Muul with a bang. But there’s one last important part of this night, so you make your way back to the gate, soaking it all in one last time, and leave the jungle. The shuttle takes you back to Playa Del Carmen, where, drifting back to sea, you end the night with Richie Hawtin at Blue Parrot.
It’s nights—and days—like these that make The BPM Festival so much more dynamic than anything around. Where else can you see Lee Burridge, Apollonia, Paul Kalkbrenner, Tale of Us, Luciano, and Richie Hawtin in twenty four hours? Its breadth and diversity, musically and locationally, is unmatched. On top of it all, The BPM Festival is as much for the artists and organizers as it is for anyone else. When you’re in a place like Playa Del Carmen, we’re all a part of the same party.