Damian Lazarus’s festival—hosted on the Tulum coast—celebrates rebirth and the formation of community through music

Contemporary academics have speculated that the Mayans called Tulum “Zama,” symbolic of dawn. Situated on the coast of Quintana Roo, the region captures the full light of the sun rising in the east, each new day dramatically entering into existence.

Renewal and rebirth are familiar themes to international DJ Damian Lazarus and his Day Zero festival. Founded in 2012, in response to the end of the Mayan long calendar, the event sought to align not with the Western viewpoint of dark apocalypse, but rather with the original eschatological understanding of a closing and reopening of the next phase of the planet. In collaboration with local Mayan groups and officials, Lazarus created a festival that marries the big-stage grandeur of international raves with meaningful intercultural moments—creating space for traditional dance and performance upon a stage commanded by established techno and house talent.

Many of the festivalgoers are in it for the long haul, arriving just as the sun sets and staying long into the next morning. It’s hard to escape the idea that you are also being reborn in an environment like Day Zero. After a night of movement, in the warmth of the new day, you feel very much a part of Lazurus’s temporary community—but also something more ancient. How long has human civilization woken up to the same Tulum sun? In this cyclical rhythm, Day Zero finds the spirit to create its perfect world.