About This Festival
Universo Paralello translates to “parallel universe” in Portuguese. It’s the best, most concise way to describe the feeling of this utopian Brazilian music and arts festival that takes a New Year’s Eve celebration and stretches it into a 10-day psychedelic, trance music affair.
Since 2003, thousands have clamored each consecutive year through the mountains of the Brazilian highlands to reach the sands of Pratigi Beach. The festival takes place here on a coconut farm near the town of Ituberá in the state of Bahia. Somehow untouched by the growing tourism around it, Pratigi Beach still seems like the most remote place on Earth, especially one designated for a rave at the end of each calendar year.
Yet, nestled somewhere along the mangrove-sheltered, beachside locale, is where Brazil’s trance scene actually took root. Between the highly caffeinated maté tea and the hallucinogenic ayahuasca fertile in the Amazonian region, this type of electronic music seems native, almost natural.
The Essence of Trance
For those unfamiliar with the trance scene, the names of artists performing at Universo Paralello are almost secondary to the effect this type of music induces in fans. Like its name implies, trance music's aim is to transport listeners into a dreamlike state. Its quick-paced tempo encourages movement, but its repetitive bass line is hypnotic. Complex layering, wooshing, beeping, and zinging also contribute to this electronic music sub-genre’s atmospheric tendencies, as well.
In terms of live performances, the 10-day event features eight days of music across six stages, including the fan-favorite UP Club Stage. DJs and artists come from all over the world to revel in what the fest itself calls its annual celebration of “music, history, union and psychedelics.” Much of Latin America is represented, with artists from Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Mexico, with other DJs and acts traveling from Europe and as far away as South Africa and Australia. Returning artists include Israel’s progressive trance DJ Captain Hook and psych trance DJ Loud, English artist Avalon, German producer Neelix, Brazil’s CH5, and more.
As for the attendees, Universo Paralello’s self-dubbed “Planetary Citizens,” do actually flock to Pratig Beach from all over the planet. As noted by the diversity in the lineup, the fest is certainly not limited to just Brazilians. And these “Planetary Citizens” help transform the festival into an alternative reality where dancing is sacred and community reigns supreme. In fact, there’s even a list of 10 Commandments that ranges from basic ground rules like throwing away trash and recycling when possible, and not starting fires on the property, to humanistic ideals like respecting diversity of other fest-goers and taking care of one’s body.
But as a festival that sets up for more than a week, Universo Paralello also encompasses a small town. Tents and stalls dot the festival grounds that offer a 24-hour medic, monitored kids area, massages and holistic therapies, yoga, showers, toilets, and even a flea market set up on the beach. The market comprises more than 40 shops that also stay open all day and all night.
Another highlight of Universo Paralello is the 24-hour food court. Professional chefs and culinary experts (some of whom have been affiliated with the festival for up to a decade) prepare everything from traditional Brazilian cuisine to international dishes to raw and vegan options. All meals are prepared with 100% mineral water to minimize any risk of exposure. And to further promote hygiene at the fest, Universo Paralello employs a coupon system at separate ticket counters so that the Planetary Citizens can eat with clean hands, dance with dirty feet, and party into the New Year.