Barranquilla has been striving for the past decade to develop a solid electronic music scene. I remember back in the late 90s when I was teenager living in this town there were about 2 or 3 local discos where I would go with my friends to dance till the morning, just to get a brink of what this techno life was. That and the occasional house parties at friends’ beach houses. The scene was small, and in the group, we all knew each other.
Over ten years later, I’ve come back to dwell again upon the scene to see how it has evolved. I am impressed to see big name artists like Timo Maas, Chus and Ceballos, and Hernan Cattaneo on digital flyers and printed posters. I went to several of these parties and saw that the scene has grown; more people, from both the young and veteran crowds, with better sound set ups, and nicer venues. Nevertheless, many organizers are complaining because they’re struggling to make ends meet. Some don’t feel that they’re getting the support they need from the community to keep growing and to better establish an awesome electronic scene in Barranquilla that everyone can enjoy.
I also wanted to find out how the local DJs are sounding and how it has been for them to emerge in this city… so I enlisted myself in the Festivals.
So far, in this 1st half of the year, we’ve had two festivals in Barranquilla. The EAF (Electronic Art Festival) that is a Colombo-German production and now the Picnic Festival that has an Argentine-Colombian association. I talked to Oscar Muñoz aka ‘Caribbean’, one of the main organizers about the expectations and results of this event, and this is what he had to say:
How was the Picnic Fest created?
Oscar M: We started Picnic Fest along with two other friends. We adapted the idea of an open air, Sundayparty in Argentina called Picnic, which originally comes from Europe where it’s called the Electronik Picnic. We wanted to fuse this European techno movement with our culture, thrusting in a Caribbean taste through the local bands of the line up, aside from the DJs who were playing techno or house.
Who were your partners?
Oscar M: Frank Bergallo was the production manager; I would say he was the person who I worked most with for the Picnic Fest. He had lots of experience organizing and constructing festivals around the world, like Miami’s Ultra Festival for example. Pedro Raitzin, one of the DJs who performed, also came from Argentina to help with the festival, especially in the musical organization. Manuel Villa, from Colombia, was the one who bridged the gap between the Argentine team and myself. Pipe Dominguez did all the graphic content for the festival and Burg Charly also helped develop contacts and ideas. We also worked with a community manager and we had the support of the general manager from Lake on Beach, Ronald Guzman, who helped us with the sound set up. There were some others who offered a hand but because we weren’t satisfied with their work I won’t bother mentioning them here.
For the audiovisual documentation, we worked with Whut Collective and of course you too, Katche Fotografía, from Barranquilla Life. This really helped with the coverage and publication of the event to help us reach more people and give the festival more exposure.
How do you perceive the present and the future of the techno scene in Barranquilla?
Oscar M: Techno will always be underground. Yet its growth at a global level is happening exponentially due to more and better producers of this genre. They all work to diversify their sound across the different types of listeners, and moreover, the scene’s most renowned artists are still alive! Other, more popular genres typically get the financial support that techno needs and so it hasn’t grown here as well as it could have in the last few years. Nevertheless, I’m confident that people will get tired of the same thing, and once they start reaching these underground events and start to open their ears to these alternative rhythms and beats, they’ll be hooked for sure.
I personally feel there has definitely been growth in the techno scene in Barranquilla, and I know it has been quite a struggle. Of course, it still doesn’t compare to cities like Bogotá, Medellin, or it’s Caribbean neighbor, Cartagena, which itself gets tremendous support and a massive audience throughout vacation season. Barranquilla’s entrepreneurs are still learning to trust their local products. Sure, techno can’t be compared to folk music of Carnaval, but come on, for a so-called metropolitan city, the capital of Colombia’s Caribbean, one would expect to find at least every major genre strongly niched by now.
In conclusion, for me, the first Picnic Fest 2016 was a sweet combination of majestic techno beats, an appropriately relaxing beach setting to dance and be yourself with no cares, and cool beautiful people, all coming together for the experience, the feel, and the dancing.