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Featured Festival BPM Festival 2012 Playa Del Carmen Guide


In a mere four years in existence, Playa del Carmen’s annual BPM Festival has grown in prominence from a small party for Canadian snow-birds looking for a way to thaw out from freezing winter temperatures to a world-class 10-day extravaganza attracting international dj’s and music lovers alike. This upcoming 5th anniversary BPM event (December 30 – January will draw top tier talent like Danny Tenaglia, Steve Angello & Dirty South along underground stars like Lee Burridge, Loco Dice, Nick Curly and members of the Crosstown Rebels label roster: Art Department, Jamie Jones and Damien Lazarus.

Having attended the last two BPM festivals, it is this writer’s opinion that BPM doesn’t stand for Beats Per Minute, but rather “By Pass Miami”. Admittedly, I’ve attended countless amazing parties and heard some epic sets from fantastic performers over my last 7 years in Miami, but the ever-increasing cost of attending WMC parties (now split into WMC and Ultra Music Festival weekends) has turned me off of this once beloved spring break tradition. Why pay astronomical prices for a cheesy hotel pool party when you can actually go to a free beach party that’s actually right on the beach like you can at BPM?

Here are some helpful tidbits of information to help you make your decision to attend this upcoming BPM Festival:

Playa Del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is a charming little city on the Mexican Riviera about 45 minutes south of Cancun International airport (CUN) easily accessible by taxi, shuttle or bus. Alternatively, you may also find flights to the neighboring island of Cozumel (CZM) and take a $15 ferry ride directly to Playa del Carmen’s downtown.


There has been a boom of condo construction in this area resulting in an abundance of rental opportunities for festival goers. The condos I have rented here have been incredibly clean with comfortable, modern furnishings and tasteful décor. Unlike Miami hotel rooms, it’s possible to find a centrally located 2 bedroom/ 2 bathroom condo with a kitchen and living room for 7 nights for about $1800. If you are traveling in a large group of friends, you may want to consider renting a villa in the Playacar development just south of Playa del Carmen.

5 Playa Del Carmen Hotels:
- Blue Parrot Suites
- Hotel Casa Ticul
- The Grand Mayan Riviera Maya
- Aqualuna Boutique Hotel by Xperience Hotels
- Hacienda Vista Real

Like South Beach, Playa del Carmen also offers a huge variety of shops and restaurants to choose from, mostly located on the tree-lined pedestrian promenade street, Fifth Avenue, which runs parallel to the beach. Yes, there’s even a Starbucks or two along here, amongst the pharmacias and souvenir shops selling sombreros and luchadore masks. Playa del Carmen is small enough that you can easily walk everywhere within about 15 minutes. With the excepetion of Avenita Juarez and Avenita Constituyentes, the streets are mostly all numbered, with those parallel to the shore numbered Avenida 1st, 5th, 10th, 15th. 20th and those cross streets perpendicular running north of Ave Juarez numbered Calle 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, … 48th Nte. Both the main bus station and the ferry pier are located close to Juarez Ave and Fifth Ave. Taxis are abundant throughout Playa del Carmen, and exceptionally cheap taking you from the clubs on 12 Av to your condo for only $5 usually. If you speak Spanish, you can probably negotiate a cheaper fare before your ride.
Find your way around Playa Del Carmen:

Events and Venues

Just like WMC/UMF week parties, the events at BPM are usually booked as record label parties featuring artists from the same roster such as Desolat night with Loco Dice, Martin Buttrich, Tini and Guti or the Toolroom Knights pool party with Mark Knight and D. Ramirez. BPM does an excellent job of counter-programming underground or techno events versus the more mainstream big name acts so that every night you have a couple of parties or venues to choose from.

Day Time

Kool Beach Club

The daytime parties usually start between noon and two p.m. and they have all been at locations right on the beach. The most popular day party venue is Kool Beach Club at the end of Calle 28th Norte. This is the epicenter of BPM as this is where they also have the BPM Box Office / Will Call for all BPM tickets along with BPM merchandise. Last year, Dubfire played a surprise set along with Davide Squillace and the place was going absolutely bonkers. I’ve heard from a source at BPM that most of the day parties at Kool Beach will be ticketed events this year, but considering they will be stepping up the production value there and have artists like John Digweed playing, I’m not surprised.

Mamita’s Lounge

Located just a few steps north up the beach is Mamita’s Lounge (also at the end of Calle 28th Nte.) and a little further is Canibal Royal (48th Nte.) Both beachfront venues will be hosting some of the more intimate parties with an underground flavor. *Mamita’s is styled somewhat similar to Nikki Beach with large daybeds available for hire with bottle service or appetizers. They will be featuring parties with Hot Creations label and Lee Burridge & Matthew Dekay’s new venture All Day I Dream.

Canibal Royal

*My favorite daytime venue is the multi-level Canibal Royal (at the end of Calle 48th Nte. with its casual hammocks, Caribbean décor and delicious seafood menu. This secluded venue is a bit of a walk, but it’s unique style is worth checking out, especially for the Akbal Music, My Favorite Robot and No. 19 Records parties.

Night Time

Blue Parrot Beach Club

Most of the night time parties will kick off around 10pm and go until 5AM or longer, depending on the venue. The largest capacity venue for BPM is the open-aired Blue Parrot beach club (at Calle 12th Nte and 1st Av), featuring a sand dancefloor, large circle bar with swings for seats and extended patio area that stretches onto the beach. Blue Parrot will host both techno (Dubfire/Richie Hawtin/Loco Dice) and big-room sound (Danny Tenaglia/Steve Angello) nights.

Pink Elephant Club

*For the more South Beach, high-end parties, BPM has added the brand new Pink Elephant Club (Calle 10th & 10 Av.) Last year, Pink Elephant’s opening week parties featuring Erick Morillo & Sharam ran in competition with BPM, but with the current re-model closing of Brahma Club, I’m glad to see that PE and BPM have joined forces. Pink Elephant has a gorgeous wood interior, high ceilings, a state of the art dj booth and lots of bottle service areas for the high-roller crowd. It’s perfectly suited for fans of Dirty South, Cedric Gervais and Boris.

La Santanera

*For the underground sound, La Santanera is pretty small multi-level venue with a Drai’s-like décor and packed dancefloor downstairs and a large rooftop patio, bar and dj booth. This one can get packed early, especially with Superfreq, Culprit and Wolf+Lamb parties on the agenda.

Alux Cave

My favorite venue is the unique Alux Cave which will host the Rebel Rave party featuring Damian Lazarus, Jamie Jones and 2011 breakout stars Art Department. This is a true underground party, with the subterranean venue located in a limestone walled cave with stalactites and stalagmites setting the mood for the Crosstown Rebels dark and dirty beats. Be sure to get advanced tickets for this party as capacity is limited.

Click HERE for FestivalZOO’s BPM Party Guide


Tickets for each event will be available from or from the ticket kiosk at Kool Beach Club. BPM Festival attracts not only tourists, but also many locals, so advance tickets is a good idea. They also offer VIP wristbands for NYE weekend (Dec 30 – Jan 1), 7day pass

(Jan 2-8th) or 10-day passes for the truly dedicated partiers. If you like to party hop or hate waiting in line, these wristbands will surely be of value to you, especially since you are given priority entry to the clubs. VIPs also get discounts at local shops, watersporting activities and booking hotels.


If you need a break from the partying, it’s a good idea to schedule an excursion to one of the numerous surrounding tourist attractions. Since 2012 is fast approaching, you may want to explore Mayan culture with a trip to the ruins in Chichen Itza, Tulum or Coba. There are numerous tour operators offering excursions to XCARET or XEL-HA “nature parks” or snorkeling packages or diving off Cozumel. I hear that many of the BPM partygoers and artist also enjoy decompressing for the week after BPM in Tulum.

While the recent news regarding the Mexican cartels seems to have garnered a lot of sensational press attention, that should not dissuade anyone from traveling to Playa del Carmen, where the economy is driven by tourism, not the drug trade like Mexico’s border communities. In my past two years attending BPM, I’ve only encountered smiling partiers and friendly locals. I certainly feel safer walking the streets of Playa del Carmen after the clubs close than I do just about anytime of the day in downtown Miami.

If you are looking for an amazing way to start your New Year, listening to fantastic artists, surrounded by positive people from around the globe in a relaxed setting, I highly recommend you by-pass Miami this year in favor of BPM.

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