In the summer of 2003, a small group of Downeast Maine DJ friends and fans had a party in a field in Belmont, in backwoods Waldo County. About 40 or 50 of them brought turntables, records, bug spray and tents, and they stayed up all night playing electronic music for each other.
This year, in the summer of 2012, much of the same group of friends will have another all-night dance party – except that this one will last three days, will have thousands of people in attendance, and will feature more than 50 DJs and performers from all over the country. The BelTek Festival, set for Aug. 3-5, is back and better than ever, after a year-long hiatus to re-assess and plan the best festival possible. Organizer Erik Klausmeyer – one of those original DJs that held the first BelTek on Rick Kidson’s Belmont farm in 2003 – has been hard at work all year at planning one of the largest festivals in the state, and the biggest electronic music event in northern New England.
“This festival has such an incredible reach, it surprises us sometimes,” said Klausmeyer, a Sullivan native and New England School of Communications graduate. “People come from all over the northeast and eastern Canada. Currently tickets have been sold in 11 states and 2 provinces. The promotion almost propagates itself.”
DJs this year hail from everywhere from California (dubstep DJ J. Rabbit) to Boston (electro house ensemble Hot Pink Delorean); from Florida (drum n’ bass/dubstep crew Dubsapiens) to New York (bass-heavy DJ FS). It also spans genres and decades, like Frankie Bones, a New York house DJ who is one of the originators of American rave culture, and longtime (and up and coming) Maine DJs and groups like DJs Elusid, APhilly8, Unity (one of the Beltek originators), Hjort & St. Pierre, Mosart212, Jamie O’Sullivan, Phigitz and many others.
With the explosive popularity of dubstep over the past year, electronic music, though most certainly never dead, has made a huge comeback – especially among teeangers and college students. Will this new wave of success change the way Klausmeyer and company run the show? Not to worry, long time EDM fans: Klausmeyer said Beltek 2012 will remain the diverse festival it’s always been.
“Dubstep and its current variations have definitely brought more interest to electronic dance music. EDM has typically always been a younger-persons music, but now that it’s been around for over 20 years, you start to have a real spread in the demographics attending this type of event,” said Klausmeyer. “It’s a healthy mix of ages and types of people. We try very hard to strike a balance between all types of electronic dance music.”
In addition to the music, there’s always been a performance art-heavy element to Beltek. The Portland-based dark vaudeville troupe Dark Follies will be on hand to perform acts of juggling, fire spinning, side show acts, belly dancing and much more. Fire performing has been a staple of BelTek as well, and fire and poi crews from all over New England plan months in advance to attend and add to the visual spectacle, which is rounded out by video DJs The Psychologist and Adrenochrome.
Most importantly to Klausmeyer and company is the fact that BelTek is, at heart, a big party for people who live and love electronic dance music. There are a lot of them out there, and for one weekend each summer, they descend on Waldo County to celebrate it.
“[They] all come together for one reason: to have a good time,” said Klausmeyer. “It’s definitely a labor of love for me.”
Pre-sale tickets for BelTek – located at 24 Lincolnville Rd. in Belmont – are $60 and are available only through Aug. 1 at beltekfestival.com. Tickets at the gate are $70; please bring photo ID. The festival is open to those 18 and over; those under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Camping is available to all. A portion of the proceeds will go to both the Good Shepherd Food Bank and the Christiana Fesmire Foundation for Missing Children and Adults in Maine.