Villa Pescadores, Tulum
Villa Pescadores, Tulum
At the beginning of each year, Tulum is bustling with parties.
A coastal paradise in the Yucatán Peninsula, across January the Mexican city’s network of picturesque beaches, eco-friendly hotels, open-air bars and glistening lagoons evolves into a teeming ecosystem of raves. From the outside, well-known events like BPM and Damian Lazarus’s Day Zero seem to dominate proceedings here but in reality you’re not hard pressed to find a party anywhere along the coast during the season.
Tulum’s popularity in this period is an example of an ever-expanding festival season, now taking over large swathes of the year. One downside to this is that, although music festivals can often be beneficial for local economies, they create a lot of mess. As such, reducing the environmental impact of festivals is increasingly on the agenda.
Comunite built this concern into its mission statement. A new dance-centric event in Tulum, it included a screening of Cowspiracy, the documentary highlighting the destructive effects of factory farming, and an entirely vegan menu. Hoping to give back to the area, it also announced plans to donate a portion of the revenue to provide portable water for eight families by installing rain catching systems in the local community.
This approach positions Comunite as a rebuke to much of the festival circuit in Tulum, favouring social and environmental responsibility over theatrics, and placing emphasis on subtler sounds setting it apart from the season’s more commercial schedule. The line-up featured a healthy representation of Latin American producers, too, favouring those with a penchant for sleek minimal sounds, like the thick churning house of Ecuadorian Nicola Cruz, the percussive hypnotism of Chilean band Matanza, and the subtle, emotive synth work of Uchi.
Taking place on the beach of the Villa Pescadores hotel, Comunite played out across two small stages. Though its programme was relatively niche, the festival had attracted a great deal of attention online due to a late addition to the line-up – the event was set to start with an eagerly anticipated appear- ance from Traumprinz, the Giegling label’s cult favourite. Also known as Prince of Denmark, and billed here as Traumprinz b2b DJ Metatron, public appearances from the elusive producer are rare. This legacy continues for now, as it transpired he was simply debuting his new album from his laptop, streamed live on Boiler Room. As disappointing as this may have been for those hopeful to catch the introvert in the flesh, the album sounded overwhelmingly lovely, with delicate swashes of melancholy splashed across its unabashedly emotive haze.
Comunite was besieged by bad weather for most of the daytime schedule. This was unfortunate for everyone involved, with the organisers hastily rescheduling the programme and artists battling against the invasive wind. Arguably the biggest acts on the bill, Moodymann and Andrés, played hours after their scheduled slot, with Andrés’ dusty sample-driven house and disco get- ting bodies moving in a downpour, and Moodymann’s soaring, intoxicating grooves proving a highlight. A rare moment of peace from the wind arose in time for Giegling duo Kettenkarussell. The first act to draw significant numbers up from lounging in the sand, their live show was a fitting soundtrack to sunset, nudging away the overhanging black clouds into darkness as their elegant swirls of dub techno unfurled over the crowd. After a rich and absorbing couple of hours, they were followed by Edward, who, while struggling with wind, coaxed adventurous, skeletal rhythms from his hardware.
The latter half of the event was defined by more driving sounds, with Dasha Redkina, Barac, Petre Inspirescu and Rhadoo keeping attendees going well into the early hours. The party then rolled over into Casa Malca, a vast complex initially built by Pablo Escobar. Centred around a bar and the grounds of the main house – a white-walled labyrinth of rooms embellished with garish art – a dancefloor soon emerged around the pool, with DJs casually taking turns to play to the small but committed crowd. In the hours that followed, attendees were draped casually across the complex, some setting up speakers by a pool that snaked underneath the main one, while others giddily explored the grounds’ various nooks and crannies, or climbed the look- out posts that revealed the stretch of jungle below.
The event was relaxing for the artists too. Konstantin dutifully provided the soundtrack for over six hours, peppering softly grooving sounds with the odd vocal track, smiling and dancing throughout and joined sporadically by Edward and Smallville’s Lawrence. Dasha Redkina drew the party to a close in the early evening, with Giegling artists and extended crew slung lazily over sofas, soaking up the last moments.
Offsetting the familiar feeling of an intimate afterhours with the absurdity of partying in a drug kingpin’s former mansion, Comunite certainly offered a unique experience. By making excellent use of its surroundings, but also giving back to them, Comunite could prove itself a peerless addition to Tulum’s busy calendar in the years to come.