White Noise: Sensation Comes to Santiago

If you were alarmed by the number of stragglers spotted the morning of March 15 stumbling around Santiago dressed completely in white, then you’ve probably never heard of Sensation. The infamous dance phenomenon hit Chile for the second time ever on March 14, when thousands of revellers descended upon the Estación Mapocho Cultural Center to pay their respects to world-class DJs and feed their dirty techno habits.

(sensation-04.jpg Photo courtesy Gonzalo Valenzuela)

During Sensation, brilliant music is played all night by some of the world’s finest DJs to thousands of drunken ravers--all of whom are dressed entirely in white. The dress code is strict, and anyone who would look out of place in a washing powder ad should expect to be denied entrance. As it turns out, finding such clothes in Santiago is a nightmare, and there were several moments when in desperation I seriously considered wearing my bed sheet.

(sensation-02.jpg Photo courtesy Gonzalo Valenzuela)

Thankfully it didn’t come to that, but as we followed the horde of bright young techno junkies down the street to the venue I couldn’t help wondering--somewhat enviously--where all the locals had sourced their sexy white dresses and hot pants. Still, the atmosphere was electric and it didn’t take long to get caught up in the frenzy (and forget the physical pain of spending almost a week’s rent on a basic vest).

After the usual palaver to get drinks involving 400 bits of paper and 25 different cash desks, we squeezed inside to join the masses. It was an impressive sight. The walls reverberated with the bass as a sea of drunken white ravers seethed and swayed around the center stage and 40,000 pairs of arms punched the air. It was like some kind of electro Mecca with the tiny DJ gods revolving in the center, the tops of their heads barely visible above the decks as they nodded to their worshipers.

(sensation-06.jpg Photo courtesy Gonzalo Valenzuela)

The set was spectacular and the show even more so, featuring acrobats, lasers and semi-naked dancers wearing feathers (why didn’t I think of that?), all carefully coordinated with the DJ sets. The theme was apparently the "Tree of Love," although this was probably lost on most. It was all slightly trippy--at one point people were dangling from the ceiling--but undeniably brilliant.

The prestigious line-up included DJs such as Marco V, Megamix and Junkie XL, but the real star of the night was Swedish DJ and producer Sebastian Ingrosso, who kept the crowd pumped for what seemed like hours with electro-house remixes of Justice and Daft Punk. While it may have been because the pisco had started to wear off by early dawn, the highly anticipated Monica Kruse failed to maintain his momentum and brought a slightly weak close to the event.

Nonetheless, as we hobbled home at dawn with Hot Chip thumping in our heads and craving cheese empanadas and a bath, we concurred that it had been an incredible night.

Bring on Sensation 2010.

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