Americans and Europeans travel to South America looking for a few things. They want to meet new people, learn about different cultures and see the wonders of nature. Well, those are the high-minded reasons at least. On a more base level, they want to party also, of course – though not just any kind of party and not necessarily something 100% local. In the case of Chile, yes it is worthwhile to go to a Fonda, listen to Cueca and see how the traditional dance is done. But nobody is going to Skype with a friend back home and talk about how crazy it was. If instead, someone could describe a three-day-long, open-air, electronic music festival at the end of a canyon in the heart of the Andes mountain range, that would be something to write home about.
Bosque Libre is exactly that and has now done it for four years running. I went to last year’s and this year’s version, which was held this past weekend in Camping Quempo. The site they chose was beautiful and we were surrounded on all sides by the impressive peaks of the Andes. At night you see an incredible starlit sky, something you don’t see in heavily polluted Santiago. The campsite itself was close to snow-melt rivers, and we were lucky to have a small stream running just next to where we set up our tent. Temperatures were hot in the day and cold at night, but we were prepared. Even just for going camping, the area was great – though the real motivation to be there in this case was the music.
The first night included eight hours of music, featuring an appearance of a new collaboration between Atom TM, a German DJ living in Chile, and Domingo, the guitarist of Follakzoid. Their music tended towards the experimental, so the real dancing began later when Kamila Govorcin came out to close the night with her dark, heavy techno. It was my kind of music and when the music stopped I hungered for more. The organizers gently reminded me that there would be two more days of music.
The next day, the music was fired up again starting at 1pm. During the day most DJs played a disco infused mix. With the heat like it was and many attendees taking the opportunity to explore the surroundings, the vibe was definitely more relaxed. I felt that things picked up again right around sunset when Amanda Mussi, a DJ from Brazil, took over the turntables. From then on it was pure sonic thumping, the kind that you feel in your brain stem and in the hollows of your chest. Each DJ that played Saturday night seemed to amp up the energy that the previous one had built up. The party reached its climax in the morning with Andrea Paz, queen of the Santiago underground. By then it was day and everyone was exhausted. Sunday during the day had a similar feel to Saturday, though the festival closed with some of its best in Valesuchi and Matias Rivera, who always put on a good show.
Since this was my second year at Bosque Libre, I’d like to finish with a comparison of 2016 and 2017. First, the campsite was a definite improvement over the previous one. There was a major difference in natural beauty and the bathrooms this year were much better than the chemical toilets the organizers had available last year. I say this especially in thinking about the women who attend these events. Though the bathrooms did get dirty, I applaud the organizers for hiring someone to clean them. Second, I liked that the festival included an opening night. I remember last year thinking that it went by too fast. This year, however, was just the right amount. There were a couple moments when the music cut, which definitely took everyone out of the vibe, but it is understandable when everything runs on generators. We were nowhere near anything with a connection to the electric grid. For Bosque Libre to evolve, this problem should be addressed. There was also an uncomfortable moment when one of the DJs was removed from the stage because he had had too much to drink and was playing sloppily. My third and final comment is to congratulate Bosque Libre and Fundación Basura for implementing a recycling system. People were drinking a lot of soda and beer and the amount of cans and bottles this consumption generates is impressive. All of it was recycled, something which I had never seen in any massive event in Chile. Great work there.
I hope next year there will be another Bosque Libre because it is a good opportunity for the community of underground electronic music to do what it does best in a special environment. As a foreigner living in Chile, it is exactly these kinds of event that I look for to be a part of my experience abroad.