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The XX in Tulum

The greatest beach party in the world

Young Turks founder Caius Pawson on bringing Grimes, The xx and FKA Twigs to Mexico for today's video

New Year’s Eve is the biggest ballache of the year, a constant quest to find the best party and catch up with mates scattered across Wetherspoons bars and house party kitchens in varying degrees of inebriation. The team behind Young Turks knew there had to be a better way of doing things. At the end of 2013 they flew out to the tropical paradise of Tulum, Mexico for one hell of a beach party, with their artists and some other favourites in tow, including The xx, Grimes, Chairlift, FKA Twigs, SBTRKT, Sampha, Jon Talabot and Four Tet. You can stream the film of the event below, a collaboration with Yours Truly that is the first entry in Young Turks' week-long Visionaries strand. Here, label founder Caius Pawson reveals how YT came to put on a party in what the event’s flyer quite rightly called “the most beautiful place in the world.”

Dazed Digital: Firstly, what is Young Turks?

Caius Pawson: Young Turks is a record label that was born out of a club night that started in London in 2005. The label started in 2006. It was a bunch of 17, 18 year olds trying to have a good time and putting on parties and putting on bands. It's always been a collaboration.

DD: Where did the idea for the Tulum party come from?

Caius Pawson: We were in north London at one of my best friend’s houses on New Year’s Eve last year and it was a laugh, but it was cold and wet and we promised to never do it again. So we actually organised it pretty much all on January 2, 2013. We’d been to Tulum and it was beautiful, so we spoke to a local promoter. It was a collaboration between the Mexicans and us. We wouldn’t have been able to get the permits, we wouldn’t have been able to find the venue without local people working on it. Within a week I’d called every one of the acts.

DD: Why Tulum?

Caius Pawson: Tulum is incredible because its on the Yucatan Peninsula. Whilst Cancun is at the top, two hours north, Tulum is sectioned off at the bottom where it’s beautiful biosphere, a big nature reserve, so you can’t build any further down. Tulum itself, the beach, is an eco-resort; the water’s all very clear and the sand’s very white because just behind the beach there’s about 14km of mangroves which are floating rainforests. They filtrate all the water that then goes underneath, through rocks and into the sea. It’s a very special place.

“Tulum itself, the beach, is an eco-resort; the water’s all very clear and the sand’s  very white because just behind the beach there’s about 14km of mangroves which are floating rainforests"

DD: You built bamboo decking over turtle nesting areas as preparation for the party…

Caius Pawson: What the turtles do is they come up from the water and they lay eggs just at the end of the beach, by the jungle and then when the little baby turtles hatch they run across the sand and go into the water. We did three parties and the third party was right in the biosphere, so there were no buildings for miles around. The party was in the jungle, but you could walk onto the beach and we had a bunch of guys protecting the turtle nesting area.

DD: One second, there were three parties?! 

Caius Pawson: The initial idea was just to have a spot where all the artists on the label could celebrate the end of 2013. We had no idea that so many people would come out for it. We had a bar at the beginning that John Talabot DJed with a few other people. We all met there on the 29th. The main party was all the bands – that was a 20 hour party and the third one was right in the nature reserve, in the jungle, under a canopy, but you could walk up a hill and down onto the beach and you could see the Milky Way. That was on the 2nd.

DD: Grimes did the midnight countdown on NYE – how did you choose who played when?

Caius Pawson: We just sort of left everybody to get together and work out what they wanted to do. But the Mexican ticketing company basically didn’t turn up, so Molly – my wife who runs Young Turks with me – and I, did all the ticketing by hand. We spent nine hours on the gate. So we missed midnight – we still had a group hug!

DD: How are you going to top it this New Year’s Eve?

Caius Pawson: We’re going to have a year off! Do some family things. But the year after, we’ll find somewhere else to do something similar.