Descending Into the Shadows: Inside the Mystical Debut of Silencio UMBRA
A group of diehard techno and house music connoisseurs answered El Silencio’s call to journey into the Valley of Silence for a one-of-a-kind boutique experience.
When we first heard about El Silencio's concept event, Silencio UMBRA, there was a kneejerk sense of intrigue. A one-night-only, dusk-to-dawn rave in Oaxaca’s Valley of Silence? Say less.
But beyond that brow-raising elevator pitch, the story only got better. The spirits brand found capable partners in Cercle Music on the curation side, and tapped Ritual Ibiza to create spellbinding live performance showcases.
Being in its first year open to the public, however, there weren’t any anecdotes to draw upon for additional information. Still, every shred of new information seemingly drew an itching sense of curiosity that couldn’t be ignored. At a time when there’s a perceptible glut of festival experiences teaming with buzzword overload, the setup for Silencio UMBRA felt prescriptive, but as with any debut concept there was still the lingering question of what the delivery would look like.
Those hesitations disintegrated immediately upon arrival at Casa Silencio, El Silencio’s private property in the Valley of Silence. The home base for Silencio UMBRA is a remote luxury retreat dedicated to the craft of mezcal production. Since opening in 2021, the location has become a destination for those looking to immerse themselves in Oaxaca’s rich culinary culture without distractions.
Ordinarily a boutique hotel comprised of just six rooms, the property transformed and leveraged the awe-inspiring surrounding natural landscape to accommodate the collective crowd shuttling on and off the property.
Situated smack dab in the middle of an agave field and surrounded on all fronts by mountainous desert terrain, Casa Silencio—both its architecture and landscape—are equal parts brooding and beautiful. It's a dichotomy which was only amplified further as over one thousand adventurous attendees in dystopian nomad attire showed up on the doorstep.
The marathon night was well paced from a performance and production standpoint, curating a sense of catharsis that remained ascendant deep into the early morning hours.
The evening began with a grand piano performance from Sofiane Pamart and a subsequent sunset serenade by Australian indie folk outfit RY X. There was sporadic conversation as fans gathered around the stage for the meditative experience and looked on from Casa Silencio’s elevated patio. It induced a moment of reflection at the natural beauty of the world around and the anticipation of the shadowy night of madness that lay ahead, a moment that was apparently felt by both artists and fans alike.
"Sometimes things are more beautiful than you imagined," RY X stated introspectively, gazing into the sunset.
As darkness crept across the landscape, electronic music artists took central focus. Lee Burridge, LP Giobbi, The Martinez Brothers and more took the pyramid-like stage while fans gathered 'round approvingly on all sides. The 360° setup was augmented by a powerful, industry-leading Funktion-One sound system that served to reaffirm just how close fans were to the action unfolding on stage.
It’s a feeling Cercle Music is particularly good at capturing as the beloved events brand has rapidly amassed a global following in the millions for their intimate, no-frills destination sets.
The premium production quality well surpassed that of a standard showcase, however.
There was seemingly something noteworthy happening on the sprawling Casa Silencio property at any given moment. From mountainside visual projections to coordinated drone shows to performances in a hidden underground glass "Rhino Room" enclosure, there was hardly a lull in the action, which spanned the better part of 24 hours.
Adding to the feeling of controlled chaos were the acclaimed performers of Ritual Ibiza, who donned otherworldly costumes and popped up across the property to showcase various mind-bending feats. There's very few ways to draw a visible sense of curiosity and wonder from a world-traveling DJ from the audience, but we learned that slingshotting costumed performers into the air around the booth from a bungee style cable is definitely one of them.
But beyond the shadowy mystique of the world of Silencio UMBRA, it's an event acutely tuned to Oaxacan culture. Organizers invested heavily back into the experience with their own expertise rooted in the worlds of food and beverage.
Attendees had access to an open bar featuring various El Silencio based cocktail creations and food served by 10 award-winning local chefs throughout the evening. As the sun peered back over the mountains in the early morning hours, breakfast tacos and coconut water straight from the source brought a homely sense of comfort and much-needed rejuvenation following the adrenaline rush of the evening's events.
Looking back on it all, it’s easy to imagine the very idea of accommodating an adventurous, rave-ready crowd at a luxury retreat in a remote location could've been deemed unfeasible. Fortunately, El Silencio’s bold ambitions have been rewarded by the techno and house music faithful, and we suspect those who were there to bear witness won’t be staying silent about this new annual attraction in the desert.