This week in El Sonido we review Bahidorá. Rana San and I traveled to the festival this February to check it out, here's what we found. Text by Rana San:
The creatives behind Carnaval de Bahidorá are geniuses; they found an oasis, curated a festival experience, and are thus cultivating a dedicated community of mindful music-lovers. Mexico City duo Verano Peligroso whose guest set aired on El Sonido last summer, turned us on to this extraordinary festival and we’re forever grateful.
The festival takes place in a natural water park known as Las Estacas, 80 miles south of Ciudad de Mexico in Morelos. A river literally runs through it. Arriving on Friday before the mass influx of campers, we took some time to wander the grounds, noting the eco-friendly décor, interactive installations, and abundant food trucks. Destroyer sound checked while we devoured 5-for-$3 tacos in chaise lounges by the pool. Into the night, tequila flowed like water, a speaker caught fire, DJs played and people danced harder. Pure bliss.
In its fourth year, the festival has doubled its past attendance, accommodating 9,000 campers, dancers, and lovers over the concentrated two-day festival. Not for a moment does the music stop. From 1 pm on Saturday until 4 pm close on Sunday, chilangos, mexicanos and extranjeros alike wander between the main stage, the dance stage, and the best stage: Asoleadero. Situated on the river, the Asoleadero is exactly that, a sunny deck butting up against a forest where people dance, swim, and laze as they please. Surrendering to the gentle current and vibrations, you can float past the airwaves emanating from each stage.
Saturday began with a tough choice between Mexican hip hop group La Banda Bastön and the tropical rhythms of Isa GT—DJ, producer, and remixer extraordinaire. We opted for the river and then stayed there to catch Sotomayor, the sibling duo from CDMX, enhancing the dreamscape with their electro-cumbia-pop marinade. Teen Flirt’s sensual future-bass, accompanied by live drums and face masks, rounded out the afternoon. It’s hard not to drop everything and make love in the grass when “Her Fake Name is Sofia” ft. Denise Gutiérrez starts playing in paradise.
Beats thumped relentlessly across the campground from the Dance Floor stage until the sun shone the next day. Unable to wake up for Thomash’s 7:30 am set, we eased into Sunday morning with El Búho’s enchanting nature- and folk-centric bass. Quantic, who has a grip of new records on the horizon, including a solo album from Nidia Góngora, Ondatrópica’s second full-length, and his own, shared new sounds that got the swim suit-clad crowd raging on the river. beGun, DJ producer hailing from Barcelona, closed out the festival, sending the sun-kissed crowd packing for the city.
Aside from the amazing landscape and stellar line-up, the festival won with its activities and workshops designed to connect us with our surroundings and each other. Whether painting mandala flags, learning about permaculture, or stepping into a phone booth to talk to “god” (read: anyone sitting at the other end of the line), every interaction was inherently social and therapeutic. Festival wristbands doubled as debit cards, allowing the freedom to be cashless and careless while pool and stage hopping. We were probably the only press toting analog cameras in bathing suits. At any given moment, there was a hammock, yoga mat, or pool ready to embrace and revive our tired bodies.
Wherever you are, put Bahidorá on your calendar and get tickets early; this year sold-out and word is it plans to retain its size. Bring a tent, sunscreen, and an intention to experience contemporary music like never before in terra incognita. The cultural wealth of Mexico is simply supreme and Mexican festivals are the perfect excuse to travel. We also recommend Vive Latino, Festival NRMAL, All My Friends, Ceremonia, and PLOP.
Saludos y mil gracias a Erich, Pau y Gil, y los organizadores amables del Carnaval de Bahidorá. ¡Hasta la próxima!
Gracias, Rana. We put together a mixtape of the sounds and music from Bahidorá so you could experience it for yourself:
Thanks for listening. See you next time.