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The BPM Festival was a house and techno paradise on the beaches of Portimão

Standout sets in Portugal came from Honey Dijon, Seth Troxler and William Djoko

  • Words: Ben Jolley | Photos: Rob Jones, Gemma Parker
  • 25 September 2019

What started as “a way of bringing together industry professionals for a small-scale boogie” has grown to become a go-to destination for house and techno lovers the world over. For its third year at Portugal’s stunning coastal town of Portimão, The BPM Festival brought thousands of sun-seekers to the Algarve for three days and nights of partying on the beach and at nearby clubs. An affordable (€5 for a cider or beer) festival-cum-holiday with music running from 2pm to 6am each day and label takeovers from Jamie Jones’ Paradise, Solardo’s Sola, Maceo Plex’s ELLUM and The Martinez Brothers’ Cuttin’ Headz, BPM once again combined world-class line-ups with a stunning sun-baked setting.

Here’s what we loved most about The BPM Festival 2019.

THE BEACH LOCATION WAS PERFECT FOR A FESTIVAL

Taking place at open-air beach clubs and venues along the strip, everything is within walking distance (or even quicker if you hop on one of the electric scooters that are dotted around town; think London's rental bikes but much more fun). Blanco Beach - an aesthetically stripped back stage built especially for the festival - provided a postcard-perfect party setting. With Instagram-worthy sunsets each night, it felt as though we really could have been anywhere in the world. Hosting showcases from Paradise, ELLUM and Cuttin Headz, Blanco had one of the busiest crowds of the weekend thanks to its top-tier line-ups full of Ibiza favourites. Meanwhile the second beach club, NoSoloÁgua, proved a great fit for the darker, Drumcode-style techno of Nicole Moudaber (sporting black sunglasses at 2am) who climbed on top of the decks during her set, her curly hair covering most of her face: a real celebrity of the techno world.

EVERYONE WAS UP FOR A PARTY

The friendly international crowd - made up of Europeans, Australians and Brits - were clearly up for it, making the most of being able to dance around bare-footed on the sand; Mixmag even spotted one group of mates doing the conga through the crowd. It says something, too, that we didn’t see any trouble across the weekend. “I’m from Portugal, enjoy my country!” beamed one proud local as he ran towards the front of the stage to get a good spot for Seth Troxler, whose first half-hour of breaks and acid-tinged selections became one of the most talked about parts of the weekend. The bar staff were equally energetic, climbing on the top of the bar and showing off their best moves as Âme delivered a set that was full of rumbling techno and hypnotic vocals. The festival seemed to be a hit with the older locals too, inquisitively observing from afar and not having a clue what they were watching. At one point Mixmag noticed a retired couple posing for a photo at the viewpoint in front of the BlancoBeach stage where Honey Dijon was working the crowd. They might not have had a clue that they were in the presence of a dance music queen, but it definitely made for a great holiday snap.

WILLIAM DJOKO’S ENERGETIC SET AT NOSOLOÁGUA

When William Djoko gets behind the decks, you know you’re in for a great time. Veering between all styles of house music, the DJ, producer and dancer’s willingness to draw for weirder selections really paid off under the darkened sky. The uplifting jazzy grooves of Detroit Swindle’s ‘Hey Mister’ set the tone early on while Derrick Carter’s ‘This Is America’ edit had everyone bouncing and rapping along. A former professional dancer, Djoko showed off his best moves, encouraging the crowd to lose their inhibitions and do the same. Tracks like ABSOLUTE’s unconventional banger ‘The Maze’ and Floorplan’s techno stomper ‘Mmm Hmm Hmm’ Hmm Hmm’ featured too, but Djoko saved the best until last, closing with Groove Armada’s timeless dance anthem ‘Superstylin’.

MELÉ BROUGHT THE PARTY VIBE TO A TINY VILLA BAR

Whenever Melé is on a line-up it’s a no-brainer for those who are up for a proper party atmosphere. So when Mixmag found out that he was due to play at a tiny and incredibly loud bar that fits no more than 100 people, we jumped on our electric scooters and got down to Villa Mariazinha right away. With a mainly British crowd bouncing around in front of him, the Liverpudlian Club Bad boss made light work of the tiny bar/club with his own carnivalesque releases ‘Scouse Afrika’ and ‘Pasilda’ in among a Loletta Holloway vocal and Felix Da Housecat’s constantly teasing ‘Thee Trk’ (one of the biggest tracks of the festival after Honey Dijon played it the following night).

HONEY DIJON’S FLAWLESS SUNSET WORKOUT

Delivering a characteristically energetic two-hour masterclass of pumping vocal-led selections, Honey Dijon’s performance as the sun began to set into pinks and oranges saw the beaming selector took full advantage of the beach location. She worked the crowd - sporting a range of flowery shirts and long flowing kimonos - into a sweat with her own empowering anthem ‘Catch The Beat’, quickly following it up with Kid Enigma’s sassy ‘Dangerous’ and an acid-tinged edit of Madonna’s ‘Vogue': just one example of a DJ who knows exactly how to read the audience and get the party started within seconds.

The BPM Festival: Tel Aviv - September 30, 2019. The BPM Festival: Costa Rica - January 15-19, 2020. For more info and tickets, go to https://thebpmfestival.com/

Ben Jolley is a freelance writer, follow him on Twitter

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