You may think you’ve seen it all. But nothing – not even years and years of festival ‘practice’ and serious clubbing – can really prepare you for the madness of Mysteryland Chile. Even seasoned Dutch promoters, some at it since the early nineties, are dropping their jaws to the unrivaled dedication of this exhilarating crowd. A shout out from the MC says it all: ‘Chile, I’m in love with your energy!’
After nearly two decades of hosting their yearly event in The Netherlands, Mysteryland was ready to hit another hemisphere. In 2011, they teamed up with local promoter Street Machine in Chile to set up a three day festival in the Andes foothills, devoted entirely to the sound and culture they have come to represent: a wide variety of electronic music. This year – only its second year – a whopping 25.000 people are attending. And from the very first minute those gates at Picarquin swing open, with people literally storming the camping grounds, you know Mysteryland Chile is going to be one rollercoaster of a ride.
As the colorful flock of excited devotees is setting up their tents, one can’t help but marvel at the astonishing backdrop. Scorching in midsummer sun, the foothills of the Andes rise up ceremoniously above the festival site. But most attending Chileans seem more concerned with dancefloor antics. As the first beats resound from a small Inca pyramid stage in the midst of all the tents, it’s on; whistling, jumping, hands in the air, getting wetted down in the process. Is it that time of night yet? No, festival grounds are yet to be officially opened.
And when they finally do that afternoon, it’s the exact same story: people running to the stage in anticipation of the music, jumping around from the very first minute on; living the music, not just hearing it. Dancing is serious business in this neck of the woods. But, like in Holland, there is much more than music to be discovered at Mysteryland. The site is filled with uncharted corners and little surprises: performance artists on stilts, tightrope walkers, masseuses, workshops, a soul spa; all adding to a magnificent sense of alternate reality.
The beauty of the stages becomes more apparent as the sun sets, and the lasers come on. Q-dance is known for its stages and shows, and their dragon stands out as a marvelous piece of design. So does the main stage, shaped as a giant lily stacked with lights. A fine blend of local heroes and international stars is lined up on ten stages both Friday and Saturday. House, Dirty Dutch, deep house, tech house, techno, hardstyle, even some local dance music styles – everything has its place at Mysteryland. And everything is greeted with the same enthusiasm and openness by the public. It really is a spiritual thing.
With drum circles around trash cans on morning afterparties already rating as little short of amazing, it’s tough to extract musical highlights. Surely Dirty Dutch and Q-Dance have strong support, with major league players Chuckie and Sander van Doorn who close off the main stage like true bosses. Guys like Luciano, Daniel Sanchez, José Del Piano are equally compelling. All artists seem to be outdoing themselves, feeding off the dancefloor’s Duracell bunny-like stamina. At one point, MC Lex Empress screams out: ‘Chile, I’m in love with your energy!’ Who isn’t?
It really is hard not to be moved by the magic of it all. You may think you’re a seasoned clubber. You may pride yourself in being a nightlife critic, or a music connoisseur. You may even be a downright cynic. But in the face of twenty five thousand ecstatic Chileans, all skepticism is lost. Mysteryland Chile is an inspirational reminder of electronic music’s true spirit: uniting on the dancefloor, and having the time of your life.