Photo Credit: Scout Camp Events
For being only the third year in Costa Rica, Bamboo Bass hosted an impressive event in the jungle of Jaco. As you walked into the festival you could feel the rumble of the bass as giant trees shot up all around you encompassing you in a luscious green canopy. For three nights in February, the jungle was alive with the sounds of bass.
Las Personas Amables
Since the majority of the festival was comprised of North Americans, almost every person I met greeted me with the same question, “American or Canadian?” Given all the love for bass music in Canada, it’s no surprise that they made up most of the crowd. A good amount of locals (about 40%) and even attendees from as far as Poland could also be found at this intimate festival of less than a couple thousand. The crowd was half bass lovers who knew the line up inside and out, while the other half was travelers who were passing through and heard it would be a good time. The outfits ranged from full-on unicorn heads to bikinis. In the tropical humidity, a hand fan was a key accessory for most. Even though many had to take an international flight to get there, all the fun festival extras were present. Totems, fairy wings, and LED gloves could be found throughout the crowd.
The festival offered a lot of opportunities to contribute to its creation. Many of those attending earned a ticket by volunteering. Camping was a community of dancers, flow artists, volunteers, and builders. Little things gave this festival a familial feeling to it like volunteers bringing out fresh fruit to the sound and stage crew or the harm reduction zone providing earplugs and legos to play with. Even though it is only in its third year, you can feel the community the event is creating.
La Selva Electrónica
The festival was located near the town of Jaco, Costa Rica at Jaco Ropes Course. It was only a five min car ride from the center of town. Many opted for accommodations with air conditioning and pools since it was such a short taxi away. Those of us who chose to camp kept it simple with tents under the big top that the festival set up to provide extra shade. The festival itself was in the jungle but the beach was a quick twenty-minute walk away. During the day we recovered from dancing all night by dipping our feet in the salt water and napping to the sound of the ocean waves. Those brave enough could even zip line above the festival at the Jaco ropes adventure course or enjoy the skatepark on site with a couple of half pipes. For the most part, the entire area of the festival was shaded and got a nice tropical breeze.
The festival grounds were relatively small. At the entrance, which was an open clearing, there was a tent with a few local food vendors serving hot dogs, pizza, and empanadas. Walk down a little and across a footbridge and then suddenly massive trees began to sprout overhead. As the sun set, the jungle transformed at night. An amazing rainbow of lights and artwork transformed the jungle into an electronic music lovers paradise. Eventually, the path you walked down and ended and you were presented with two stages, La Selva (The Jungle) stage and La Brisa (The Breeze). While they were only a brief two-minute walk from each other the sound was angled just right so that it did not bleed.
The heavy bass filled the main stage while a little house and funk could be found on the other. On both stages fire dancers, flow artists, and other performers added to the overall excitement. At any given time on stage, there was a flow artist waving an LED hoop around or someone juggling fire. The production was on par with that of a large-scale festival. The incredible handmade stages were heightened with visuals video mapped across them. The ear thumping bass provided by PK sounds could be felt all throughout the grounds.
La Zona de Descanso
Between the camping area and the two stages was the harm reduction zone created a safe and fun place to relax. Underneath two teepees there were tons of places to lounge. The area was hosted by Karmik, an organization from Canada that helps to provide harm reductions services to festivals. You could grab a pair of earplugs or some electrolytes to put in your water. There were even legos and coloring books to keep you entertained as you rested your legs.
On Saturday, a showcase of local performers took over the main stage. The Tico soundclash was a collection of performances from Bloke, Crypy, DJ P, Huba, Fire Lion, Leona Del Ghetto, Jahricio and Ras Manuel. The other nights featured takeovers by Deep, Dark and Dangerous on Friday night and Sleeveless Records on Sunday night. Paper Diamond and Minnesota headlined the festival Saturday night with two heavy performances.
The music started around noon on the main stage and around seven on the second stage every day. The dance floor did not fill up until around 10pm every night and kept going until the sun rose around 6am. Quiet hours on site were from 6am-11am giving everyone a chance to grab some sleep. Unfortunately for those camping the sun began to heat things up early in the morning. Luckily a nap on the beach was the perfect solution.
When they weren’t onstage, the DJ’s could be found walking around enjoying the festival themselves. This made the festival all the more intimate. With a killer sounds system, a jungle made mystical with neon lights and incredible black-lighted artwork, and a crowd that felt like family Bamboo Bass is making a name for itself in the jungle.