December 21st, 2012 marks the end date of the Ancient Mayan Calendar. And while it didn’t bring the apocalyptic end of humanity that conspiracy-theorists everywhere swore it would, it did bring us Day Zero — a massive jungle party thrown by DJ producer Damian Lazarus. Day Zero seeks to combine the mysticism of Mayan culture with the high-production stages and spectacle of modern electronic dance music, and has been doing just that on a near-annual basis since 2012. After taking a break last year, Day Zero is back and they made sure to return with a bang — the festivities on display look absolutely sick.
This year’s festival was held in the jungles surrounding Tulum — itself home to the ruins of a pre-Columbian Mayan city –and judging by the photos we’ve rounded up, had the world actually ended that night it would’ve been a hell of a way to go. With performances by Bedouin, Damian Lazarus, Damian & Mandrake (Mayan Warrior Sound System), Four Tet, and others, Day Zero looked to be a vibrant celebration of life (despite the apocalyptic themes).
Obviously, when you see people in headdresses and Mayan traditional clothes at a techno party, it gives rise to questions about appropriation. But Lazarus seems all too aware of this and works with Indigenous communities to honor their history.
“With research, experience and experiments I think it is possible to fuse some musical traditions and cultures with electronic music in a way that is cutting edge, beautiful and not cheesy,” he told Billboard in 2016. “There is a fine line between cool and cheap, but I think that with much deep digging and an open mind it is possible to create something different, interesting and special.”
We tend to agree with that sentiment. Everything is always getting remixed and fused. With the right degree of respect, can that happen at a dance party in the jungle? Of course.
So melt away that winter chill and check out these festival photos from Day Zero below. While you’re at it, think about how you want to be spending next January.