Day Zero 2016: Why Setting Is Everything for a FestivalArticle by: Jonathan Akbari
Mon January 11, 2016 | 00:00 AM
For the past three years something has been stirring in the jungles of Mexico. It's a one-day gathering in Ak Tun Ak, near the ruins of Tulúm the immersive journey into Mexican and Mayan culture known as Day Zero blends traditional Mayan ceremonies, local performers, arts, the lush magic of the Mayan Riviera, top house and techno talent, and the support of Damian Lazarus’s Crosstown Rebels to guide attendees' through 24 hours of cultural, musical and self exploration in the jungle.
Many festivals aim to tap into the magic of their venues in order to enhance an attendee’s adventure. Whether it's the water cooling down the heat coming off of Symbiosis Gathering or the dusty playa that everyone calls home during Burning Man, it’s undeniable the effect a fest's setting has. A venue can be the deciding factor between a festival providing true spiritual, personal and communal growth. Damian Lazarus, when launching Day Zero, sought to branch off from the traditional BPM Festival format by breaking away from Playa Del Carmen night clubs and into different exotic locations in Tulúm, allowing for a more expansive and immersive experience. Free from the confines of a club, the event drew heavy inspiration from its surroundings in order to promote diversity and cultural awareness, adding Latin sounds and native performances to its musical lineup and nods to indigenous culture and a revered respect for the land, making for a one heck of a jungle romp.
This year was no different. Day Zero, as always, encouraged attendees to go deep within and find their true selves. As guests wandered through jungle paths illuminated by signs asking “How Can I Make a Difference?” or “What Do I Really Want?” or explored cenotes and hidden caves adorned with “Get Lost” signs in bright neon, or got lost in Mayan acrobatic performances, it was clear the fest wanted to challenge personally everyone to find their true intentions, and encourage attendees to tap into personal growth, social responsibility, and creative expression. The interplay of humidity at Day Zero not only created a steamy jungle dance party but also allowed for lasers to shine brighter to create a vibe often only found in underground warehouses.
The singularity of each festival venue is what drives festies to learn, travel, and expand their horizons. The appeal of a lakeside campground or a party in the jungle not only ignites a sense of adventure in us, but also forces us to make the experience extra meaningful because we have to go so far to make it happen. There are many benefits to traveling abroad for a festival, from overcoming cultural misconceptions, to sparking creativity, to witnessing community, to feeling more open and confident. Day Zero has these in spades, proving that a festival's setting, fused with a sense of soul, is a key element in personal transformation.