It’s true. The SXM Festival in Saint Martin will spoil you. You may no longer have a tolerance for music festivals with sub-par line-ups, especially if those music festivals lack the turquoise oceans and white sandy beaches of the Caribbean. Indeed, SXM is a wholly unique festival experience in a tropical island oasis, and its design across open-air venues, private villas, and nightclubs spanning five days creates an intimacy and atmosphere that is unparalleled in today’s dance music climate. My only complaint is that it didn’t last longer.
Here are four moments in paradise that stood out during my experience at SXM Festival 2017:
Black Coffee – Main Stage at Happy Bay
The main stage at Happy Bay was absolutely packed following a mesmerizing performance by Âme when Black Coffee finally took the stage. As the South African DJ/producer started spinning, we all knew we were witnessing something special – a master at work. This is the type of house music that should have universal appeal. Following the release of his collaboration with Drake just two days after, Black Coffee should soon become a household name.
With a VIP wristband, festival-goers were allowed entry into the festival’s off-site VIP Party, which naturally took place at a luxurious multi-million dollar hillside coastline villa, featuring an infinity pool, water slide and breathtaking views of the island. It felt like we were all on-set filming a movie and Thugfucker was the soundtrack. What made this experience extraordinary, however, was how intimate the gathering felt. As the sun went down, I sat by the pool surrounded by friends, eating Johnny Cakes and spare ribs, wondering how this festival could get any better. Check out this SXM Festival preview set by Thugfucker for Deep House Amsterdam.
Lee Burridge – Beach Stage at Happy Bay
On Sunday morning, the final day of the festival, Lee Burridge began spinning his signature transcendent melodies as the sun rose slowly on the beach at Happy Bay. Lee Burridge’s music will bring you to life and make you feel whole. The intermittent rainstorms only added to the intrigue, eventually creating a rainbow as the sun became more intense. Some festivalgoers swam in the ocean; others took disco naps on the beach. Everyone appeared utterly content in the moment. It was magic.
Ricardo Villalobos – Main Stage at Happy Bay
The final evening of the festival was a 12-hour marathon that featured dance music titans Ricardo Villalobos and Richie Hawtin. Now, there are DJs and then there are DJs. Ricardo Villalobos is squarely in the latter camp. His epic vinyl-only set was a pilgrimage through minimal, micro-house and techno selections featuring original productions interwoven through a back catalog of samples, edits, and remixes. Seeing Ricardo behind the decks is like seeing Picasso paint a canvas or Beethoven conduct an orchestra; the technical genius is profound. Ricardo’s set was by far my favorite and a perfect ending to the week.
Charlie Hanna – EDM TOR