Sónar Festival 2012: inthemix goes to Barcelona

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The scope of the dance music frivolities taking place across the spectacular Spanish city of Barcelona across the duration of the Sónar Festival are nearly too spectacular and far-reaching to even get your head around. The main component are the official activities of the Sónar Festival itself, a sprawling three-day cultural event that includes both the ‘Sónar by Day’ events in the center of Barcelona’s museum and art gallery district, as well as the stupendous ‘Sónar by Night’ parties at the sprawling Fira Gran Via conference centre. All up, the official Sónar Festival activities entertain more than 150,000 people over the three days.

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what goes down across the different corners of Barcelona during the week surrounding the Sónar Festival. ‘Off Sónar’ is the label that is slapped on all the events that take part outside of the actual festival itself, and the sheer mind-boggling number of parties happening is enough to utterly overwhelm even the most serious dance music enthusiast, stretching from the clubs situated across in the dazzling Spanish charm of the Old Town area and Gothic Quarter, to the bubbling energy of the street parties in Las Ramblas strip, over to the beach parties on the pristine Nova Mar Bella beach. And don’t forget those blue skies and sunshine, weather that never drops below 20 degrees, as well as Spain’s legendary reputation of knowing how to party, get loose and have a good time.

Otherwise, the amount of DJs, live performers and record labels that are in town during the Sónar Festival borders on the ridiculous. Joris Voorn and Nic Fanciulli unofficially kicked off the festivities on Wednesday afternoon with a free Saved and Rejected Records beach party, a day before the Sónar Festival itself actually begun, and the number of label nights tht followed were simply too many to mention – think Get Physical, Innervisions, Kompakt, Minus, Cocoon, Desolat…and that’s just getting started.

At one point during the weekend, someone made the astute observation that if a zombie apocalypse swept through the streets or Barcelona during Sónar Festival, global dance culture would pretty much be completely wiped out in one fell swoop. Gone. Terminado. Despedida! Morbid observations aside, if all this sounds like a dance lover’s paradise – it’s because it is.

Sónar Festival day #1:

With tens of thousands descending on the city and already raring to party earlier in the week, the first official day of the Sónar Festival action kicked off in Barcelona on Thursday, with the first ‘Sónar by Day’ activities taking place in the open-air confines in the center of the Raval area, part of Barcelona's Old Town. Situated across the grounds of Centre de Cultura Contemporánia and the Museu d'Art Contemporani, Thursday made for a chilled start to the three days of festival, a chance to soak up the relaxed joys of the day party without any interruptions, before the blockbuster ‘Sónar by Night’ aspect kicked off alongside it on Friday.

The beauty of ‘Sónar by Day’ is that it allows visitors to witness a massive posse of underground electronic talent, with the three-day party showcasing a wide array of undiscovered sounds, amongst a handful of already established and celebrated experimental performers. If you’re into discovering new sounds, this is probably one of the premier events you could go to anywhere in the world. And the coolest thing is how much it’s been sanctioned by the local authorities, who’ve given the promoters access to their prized museum and gallery spaces, giving the parties the air of a genuine cultural event.