Buenos Aires is undoubtedly one of the best cities in the world for nightlife and, in the year and a half that I lived there, I went to four electronic music festivals, as well as countless parties and nights out. Sadly, these festivals have now been banned after five people overdosed at TimeWarp, a decision brought about by the mayor of BA, which seems crazy in my opinion as it’s hardly going to solve the problem; people will continue to take drugs, they’ll just find somewhere else to do it.
What I loved most about the festivals I went to was the passion of the crowd, as Argentinians simply have so much love for electronic music and seemingly infinite amounts of energy. As a result, the atmosphere at festivals in Buenos Aires was really quite magical, something I’m yet to experience anywhere else in the world. I met some of the best people I know out raving in that city, and many are still great friends of mine today, so I decided to write this article as an homage to them and the wonderful events that brought us together.
The crew at Ultra Buenos Aires
My first festival: Ultra
Ultra was the first festival in Buenos Aires that I heard about and I wasn’t even planning to be in the country for it, but an Australian couple I’d met in Peru (and continued to bump into throughout my travels) showed me the line-up one night in Rio and without hesitation, I booked myself onto a flight to BA. It had been ages since I’d last heard anything that resembled electronic music, having been exposed to nothing but Samba, Salsa and Reggaeton for the past three months, so I think I got a little overexcited! It was well worth the trip though, for a number of Trance DJs I adored at the time played, such as Omnia, W&W and Armin, and they did not disappoint. Besides, it was the very first time I’d partied hard with Argentinians and I was carried by their energy and enthusiasm through to the end of the night, by which time we were all completely sodden as there had been a torrential downpour. Still, that wasn’t enough to wipe the smiles off our faces. I finally got back to my hostel at some ungodly hour of the morning, having had to walk back in the rain and mud, since no taxi driver would accept my soggy banknotes, but I arrived feeling immensely satisfied after a night of non-stop dancing.
For a more detailed account of the night, check out my review of Ultra Buenos Aires on Data Transmission.
The crowd during Nic Fanciulli’s set at Creamfields BA
My biggest festival: Creamfields
The legendary Creamfields Festival takes place in a number of countries across the globe, including England, Ireland, Spain, Mexico, Russia, Chile and of course, Argentina. I’d only ever had the UK experience, so was delighted when I managed to wangle a pair of free tickets to Creamfields BA, and full of intrigue. As I predicted, it was a lot sunnier, the crowd were a lot livelier and there was more emphasis on the music and less on fashion, food and fairground rides. I have to say though, the English version is more varied in terms of the different genres and styles, and I found myself mostly watching performances by House and Techno DJs, such as Nic Fanciulli, Tale of Us, Solomun and Gaiser in BA, as there wasn’t much Trance. I did get to see the second half of Above & Beyond’s set though, which blew me away, even though I’d already seen them so many times – a cracking way to end the night. Overall, whereas you can’t really compare this one-day event to longer festivals held in the UK, that incredible vibe given off by the crowd is something that you won’t experience in Daresbury! So many DJs rave about the atmosphere at Creamfields BA and after my experience of it, I can certainly see why.
Partying in the woods at Aurora
My most surreal festival: Aurora
Aurora is Argentina’s take on the world renowned Burning Man Festival, different versions of which take place in several countries, but I was lucky enough to attend the first ever one in Argentina, and in fact the whole of Latin America. It took place in the middle of nowhere (as you would expect), surrounded by woods, fields and a lake, and was decorated with ribbons, neon mannequins and various other random objects. From start to finish, the whole experience was utterly surreal; I saw some of the most creative fancy dress outfits I’d ever seen, witnessed a wedding conducted by men in masks, danced in an illuminated forest while baby armadillos ran past my feet and, of course, saw the giant wooden man get burnt to a cinder. This was the climax of the four-day festival, provoking claps and cheers from the crowd and one man even played his violin throughout, making it all the more dramatic. The festival didn’t have a particularly large turnout, but that made it all the more special and intimate, as those that had made the journey were psyched to be there. The music ranged from from Techno, to Psytrance, to Ambient, and live bands performed too, meaning there was something for everyone. I hear Aurora is a lot bigger these days, and it’s still going despite the ban, so I’d definitely advise checking it out if you’re in Buenos Aires in April.
Click to read my full review of Aurora.
Saving the best till last – TimeWarp Argentina
My favourite festival: TimeWarp
Towards the end of my time in BA, I found myself developing more of an interest in Techno, as there’s so much of it around and it’s hugely popular. Fortunately for me, the legendary German festival TimeWarp took place in the city for the first time while I was there, which was pretty good timing, as it had never previously been held outside of Europe. For me, this was a reflection of the city’s commitment to electronic music and the Porteños’ flare for it. Naturally, the TimeWarp Argentina line-up was very impressive, featuring old favourites like Richie Hawtin and Chris Liebing, as well as younger DJs, Valentino Kanzyani and Barem, amongst others. A vast warehouse in the neighbourhood of Palermo hosted the festival over two days and, although I’d only planned to go on the first day, it was so incredible that I found myself going back for round two, despite the fact I was well and truly exhausted from the previous night. Everything from the sound system, to the lights and decoration, to the atmosphere were spot on and the music did not disappoint either. The highlight of the entire festival had to be Loco Dice’s three-hour set on the first night, as I adore his edgy, drum-heavy Tech-House style. It has the be said that TimeWarp Argentina well and truly lived up to the hype, though sadly it only took place once more before getting banned.
Overall, my experience of electronic music festivals in Argentina was nothing short of awesome and I hope to be able to return one day once they’ve lifted that ban- my fingers are tightly crossed…