Seeing as WMC (Winter Music Conference in Miami, FL) is through I won’t add it to my list, therefore leaving space for other honorable mentions… (special thanks to Tanaz Irani, Tanz Agency for creating this list).
1. Movement, aka DEMF (Detroit, US) – Housed in Detroit’s dissonant downtown of decay and delight, one will encounter one of the largest congregations of techno lovers, old and new fashioning everything from proper three-piece suits appreciatively nodding alongside the dj booth, to candied-out fun fur legs and arms flailing in all colours of ringed bracelets. This festival is of many ages with a historic echo that reverberates through the derelict buildings and across the waters to the north. Not to mention the most interesting and ‘educational’ taxi rides you may ever experience.
2. Mutek (Montreal, Canada) – Eleven years running, Mutek is more a celebration of the art of electronic music than the typical dj-dancer feedback-loop one generally encounters at festivals. Patrons will surely find driving beats and relentless productions pulsating through the bodies of dancers at the club-held events, however they will also find a world of techno ‘heads’ attending day lectures and unique performances of visual and sonic sensory astonishment, all in a beautiful 117-year-old theatre (Monument National). Also, if the weather holds up, patrons can dance outdoors under a giant statuesque piece of contemporary art to the compelling beats of Picnik Electronik’s artists, overlooking the cityscape as night falls from the island.
3. Sonar (Barcelona, Spain) – Definitely one of the most highly attended festivals of the year for techno enthusiasts. Unlike other festivals that have a more organic, outdoor feel to them, Sonar is very much a ‘city’ event. Crowds of party people navigate the tiny, captivating streets of Barcelona for the week surrounding the event – making if feel like the whole city is there to unite in their affiliation to this electronic subculture. Residents routinely keep away from the main strip (Las Ramblas) even more so than during the regularly busy tourist season. This is Sonar Week and it’s all about networking, partying and after partying, and when there’s no more to be had… Chiringuito parties on the beach lure you in for days into nights into days.
4. I Love Techno (Ghent, Belgium) – One of the longer-running and more popular festivals in the world of techno tourism, I Love Techno, held at the Flanders Exposition grounds in Ghent, Belgium is on its 15th round this year. The festival maintains its grass-roots beginnings by bringing in hundreds of volunteers to do everything from promotion, organization and design to the creation of the ‘official track’ of this year’s event which will be featured on the ILT promo cd.
5. ADE – Amsterdam Dance Event (Amsterdam, Netherlands) – Also in its 15th year, ADE, with its corporate kick of serious sponsorship and support is expected to draw even more than the 90,000 party people it pulled in last year, with over 700 artists in 41+ venues this festival takes its small but decadent home town to a whole new level of dissipation and dance.