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SXM Festival 2022

Photo Credit: Off Brand Project / Alec Donnell Luna / Phantomography / Matt Echaus

It has been a difficult two years for everyone, but for a few days at the SXM Festival this year, all was forgotten. The government dropped all covid rules as the party began and that brought an extra air of celebration to an already electric atmosphere. It was that way from the off, mostly because as soon as you arrive on the Caribbean island of St Maarten, you’re blown away by the natural beauty. It is a place of stunning sunsets, gorgeous beaches, beautiful villas, and lush jungle greenery that always ensures a picture-perfect and highly Instagrammable backdrop.

This was the first SXM for two years and the team has clearly been hard at work to outdo even their own high standards. The production for each stage was out of this world. The Main Stage was a towering construction with driftwood timber, plenty of grasses, hanging mystic artworks, and towering palm trees, all making it feel like a living and breathing organic structure. Add in the fact that it is bathed in warming hues of light, often surrounded by dancers in lavish costumes with an exotic edge, and has a killer sound system, and you have one of the best places to party in the world. Not to mention, a stacked line-up that included performances by Apache, AudioflyAwlyBahamGab RhomeInnellea (Live), Jimi JulesKonstantin SiboldLayla BenitezMagaMagdalenaMarco CarolaMs. MadaPaolo RoccoPaso DobleRoustamSantiago GarciaTony Y Not, UnderHerRicardo VillalobosÂmeJan BlomqvistDJ TennisSteve BugChloé Caillet, WhoMadeWho, Dubfire, Blond:ish, ChaimDanny TenagliaCarlitaBehrouzSonja MoonearHojYokoOAmine KRareshEmanuel Satie, and more.

The second stage also grew this year with its own unique vibe and carefully curated soundtrack offering something slightly different and an all-new Panorama Party in a sensational new location perched up on the side of a mountain, immersed in the beauty of nature, offering stunning views down over the hills and the ocean. Audiofly have been coming to SXM for the last 5 years so really understand the crowd and vibes. They were the perfect pair to play the Panorama Party with spine-tingling house sounds matching mesmeric views over the bay while people whooped and cheered as the afternoon turned to night at this most surreal of sessions.

The whole festival had a real family feel not just with the ‘friends’ crowd but because the DJs hung around and enjoyed plenty of other sets as well their own. World-class brands from all over join in to bring their own flavors, such as Episode, Tranquikity, Soundtuary, and many more, to lend it a really global feel. On top of this, there are plenty of amazing places to stay and wild-class restaurants to relax and recuperate in between the dances, as well as plenty of chances to explore local culture and water sports. The highlights are endless at SXM but personal favorite moments include Behrouz doing deep and hypnotic at the Boho Sunrise Party, while on the main stage Ricardo Villalobos and Raresh going back to back in iconic fashion will always be special, with mind-melting minimal, flashes of acid, and plenty of great back and forth fun between the two DJs. Then Dubfire closing down to a packed crowd with an unforgettable moment, playing Jimi Jules’ ‘My City on Fire’ while Jimi watched on was the icing on the cake.

The second stage was a place to see red hot up and comers and saw much talked about performances from Space resident Layla Benitez and breakout techno star Innellea proved why he is so celebrated as Chaim also brought the masterfully melodic sounds. Maybe the overriding memory of the year will be an infamous villa party that saw a superbly seductive and stylish live show from US artists Pillow Talk, which then led to Moody Jones, who managed to steal the show with his wildly energetic and party pumping sounds.

SMX Festival is really a musical getaway like no other. The music is world-class, the location is the sort of dreamlike, once-in-a-lifetime spot you don’t think you will ever get to experience and people who attend are a warm and welcoming bunch who make it extra special. This is a tropical techno getaway that you only want to tell your very best friends about.

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