Written by Zack Kostaras
Photos by Menbar Photos (@menbarphotos) and Alive Coverage (@alivecoverage) (cover photo),
And just like that, BPM has another edition of its industry leading festival under its belt and has started 2020 off on a strong foot. The festival’s first installment in Costa Rica brought thousands of travelers from all over the world, to the beautiful pacific coast of Tamarindo, Costa Rica. Widely regarded as one of the happiest countries in the world, Costa Rica’s naturally diverse ecosystem makes it a must-see spectacle and a beautiful setting for a music festival. Add this to the warm and friendly hospitality of the local Costa Ricans, and you could easily see why the country was an excellent setting for the festival.
The festival was split up into three different areas. During the day, you had Casa Aura (a beachfront hostel) hosting various local DJ’s and the Canopy Stage, which was inside the main festival grounds. A short drive inland you had the main festival grounds that hosted the Canopy Stage during the day, and three more stages at night called Dreamcatcher, the Pod and the Howling Monkey. The main three stages were elaborately decorated in the midst of the jungle, with each stage giving it’s own, unique vibe.
The festival kicked off with a five hour set from the grammy-award winning duo Deep Dish, playing for the first time in Costa Rica in 14 years. The beautiful extended set led into the night with stage takeovers from Detroit Love, Visionquest and Sci+Tec. Kenny Larkin got the crowd moving with some Detroit techno, while the VisionQuest crew kept it groovy with house music all night long at the howling monkey stage. Night two saw Luciano & friends at the Pod, while the Vatos Locos crew made the dream catchers swing with their various b2b’s all night long.
Day three was a massive one for the festival, with house music legends Louie Vega and Kenny Gonzalez teaming up as Masters at Work at the canopy playing for over four hours. The duo played the full spectrum of house music after Felix da Housecat, Jojo Flores and II Faces. As epic as this special b2b was, Paco Osuna and Nicole Moudaber wrapped up day three of the festival with an incredible b2b at the POD into the wee hours of the morning that brought the biggest and most excited crowd out of any set in the festival.
Day four debuted NBA -legend Rony Seikaly’s Majanina party at the Dreamcatcher Stage, which had been further decorated with additional dreamcatchers since the first day. Rony played an epic 3 + hour set filled with groovy deep house vibes all night long, with a fantastic crowd that was loving every minute of it. At the same time, Stacey Pullen was a surprise guest going b2b with the Neverdawgs crew at The Howling Monkey Stage which gave fans solid options to enjoy themselves on a bumpin’ Saturday night.
The last day wrapped up with the BPM festival’s signature party, This is the End. Sasha followed up Sharam’s epic set with a journey through progressive house that had fans begging for more. Later that night, the supergroup Better Lost Than Stupid closed out the Pod Stage with Berlin house-heavyweight Ben Rau closing out the Dreamcatcher Stage. In case that wasn’t enough, Skream did a surprise b2b with Michael Bibi at the Dreamcatcher Stage as the sun rose for a proper closing to an action-packed week.
Like any new event, the festival did come across its fair share of obstacles. Set times were never posted throughout the course of the week, and there were some areas of disorganization between local staff on navigating the crowds throughout the stages between the canopy and the three main stages. Furthermore, there were some problems with affiliated ticketing partners that gave some festival goers a hard time obtaining their tickets from the box office. Having said this, the music, crowd, setting and hospitality of the Costa Rican people made these nuances minor in the grand scheme of things.
Overall, BPM Costa Rica offers festival-goers more than a music festival. The over 100+ dj’s brought a great blend of big named heavy-hitters while showcasing the local and upcoming talent from the region, giving plenty of names to discover. When there was down time, you could have been a beach bum nursing a hangover or an adrenaline junkie ziplining from one canopy to the next. The first edition of BPM in Costa Rica has us excited to return, as we know that an already stellar festival is only going to continue to get better.