Professional party people unite! But can Las Vegans, with our well-conditioned livers, keep up?
Nightclub big-wigs, promoters and clubbers prep for a week of party hopping, sleep deprivation, business-card exchanging and checking out the best the electronic dance music world has to offer every March.
The Winter Music Conference in Miami is the ultimate see-and-be-seen event. I was determined to do both, lining up a list of events to check out that made me consider the benefits of human cloning. The yearly pilgrimage is to nightlifers and electronic-music fans what Coachella is to... well, everyone else. Only WMC is bigger, longer and a whole lot crazier with more shindigs than we can count, spread out across South Beach and Downtown Miami. I literally couldn’t walk down South Beach’s Collins Avenue without running into someone from Las Vegas.
Let the shenanigans begin...
Wednesday, March 24: DiP In Pool Party at the National, DJ Mag party at the Shelbourne, Global Underground event at Mynt
Thursday, March 25: Kaskade Listening Party, Hard Pool Party, Juicy Beach, Anjunabeats and 5th Annual Surreal Miami Unity Party
Friday, March 26: Belvedere Vodka Music Lounge, Beatport Beach Party, Ultra, One Night Only...
Saturday, March 27: Judge Jules Radio Sessions, Ultra, Vandit Ten Year Anniversary with Paul van Dyk
Sunday, March 29: Beatport Beach Party, MMC Closing Party, Mixology
Monday, March 30: Get me the heck outta here...
DiP In Pool Party at the National, DJ Mag party at the Shelbourne, Global Underground event at Mynt
6:00 a.m. PST: American Airlines flight 1886 had been dubbed the “party plane” in the Twittisphere a few days earlier. At least a dozen recognizable faces are on board, including DJ/producer Steve Aoki, fresh from his gig at Blush. There are also quite a few “I know I know that guy/girl from some night out” types on the plane as well. I haven’t slept since Monday night/Tuesday morning, thinking it’d be easier just to stay up to catch the flight. This is probably a mistake...
1:32 p.m. EST: Disco nap on the plane mostly was a failure thanks to an ongoing battle for the armrest with a older woman next to me who smelled like a combination of onions and drugstore perfume. But no rest for the weary as I’m already going to have to skip a planned cocktail party at a mansion because Menno de Jong’s set at the DiP In pool party at the National Hotel will start earlier than I had hoped.
4:33 p.m.: Finally arriving at the National, which I recognize from the Beatport Pool Party last year. DiP In, billed as the only trance-music pool party at WMC already is in full-swing with de Jong on the decks. Thought the crowd is on the smallish side — I didn’t even know about the event until de Jong himself e-mailed me about it — those here sure are enthusiastic and the vibe is as energetic as if de Jong was playing to a crowd of thousands. Cosmic Gate takes control of the tables next as I make my first Speedo sighting. I’m willing to buy into the stereotype that Speedo-dude is foreign, as are many of the accents I hear around me. I, on the other hand, am wearing jeans, as is DJ/producer Blake Jarrell who’s hanging out, so I don’t feel so out of place. Hey, it’s chilly!
- Related Stories
- Miami Vice: Vegas intel, overheard at WMC (3/30/10)
- Vegas Vacation: What to see at WMC (3/18/10)
- WMC party pics (3/24/10)
- WMC party pics (3/25/10)
- WMC party pics (3/26/10)
- WMC party pics (3/27, 3/28/10)
- From the Archives
- Miami’s WMC could show Las Vegas DJs a thing or two—or three (4/9/09)
- Related Interviews
- Svast & Stellar (3/19/10)
- Menno de Jong (2/18/10)
- Robbie Rivera (1/28/10)
- Jordan Stevens (1/21/10)
- Keith Evan (12/17/09)
- Serge Devant (8/20/09)
- Rabbit in the Moon (7/23/09)
- Paul van Dyk (5/21/09)
- Cosmic Gate (1/19/09)
- Deadmau5 (12/27/07)
- The Crystal Method (10/11/07)
- Beyond the Weekly
- Winter Music Conference
- More WMC photos by Mikey McNulty
6:38 p.m.: Over at the Shelbourne now, looking down from a giant patio shared between a few rooms being used by someone who knows somebody who knows somebody I know... Just like when you end up sitting at a VIP table in Vegas. The pool party is packed, though as LaVelle from Scooter & LaVelle jokes: “They should be called ‘Around the Pool Parties.’” No one ever seems to actually get in the water except for a few lone souls. Not sure who’s spinning right now, but the crowd loves it.
8:21 p.m.: Back to the DiP In pool party because I’m curious who the special surprise guest is. The sun has gone down, and it’s filled up quite a bit more in front of the DJ booths. Attendees have busted out the finger lights and are waving them around to the music during a set by Gareth Emery. As he finishes, Sander Van Doorn emerges as the special guest.
10:03 p.m.: First real meal of the day with friends and DJ/producer Kenneth Thomas at a little Mexican restaurant across from Cameo, though our first attempt to grab food at Jerry’s Famous Deli failed when our drink order wasn’t even taken after about 20 minutes, plus it was a trillion dollars for a sandwich (not the exact price, but close).
11:27 p.m.: Arriving at Mynt Lounge for a private Global Underground party, I am immediately impressed... by the carpet. We spend a few minutes debating if it’s actual metallic sparkles or glitter as part of the decorations for the specific event, and this is before we imbibe at the open bar. Stan Kolev is on the decks upon arrival as I affix a GU pin to my backpack, but Sultan’s set turns out to be the highlight of my night.
Kaskade Listening Party, Hard Pool Party, Juicy Beach, Anjunabeats and 5th Annual Surreal Miami Unity Party
12:28 p.m.: I’m already regretting opting for a cheaper hotel further north on Collins than in the midst of the action of South Beach. Though cabs are cheaper than in Vegas, traffic during WMC is a bitch...
2:56 p.m.: Promotions for Kaskade’s new residency in Vegas are in full-swing in Miami, especially today. While at the Oasis at the Raleigh, the invite-only crowd is getting to preview Kaskade’s new full-length album, Dynasty, out May 11. Judging from what I’m hearing, tracks from Kaskade’s sixth artist album will be be perfect for him to spin poolside when his Encore Beach Club residency begins May 30. Vegas’ DJ/reality star Brittaney Starr also is in attendance soaking up some sun.
4:02 p.m.: Back up the beach to the Fontainebleau for the express purpose of checking out Fake Blood because he’s yet to play in Vegas (to my knowledge). I’ve been a fan of his productions since the release of “Mars” and his set at the Electric Daisy Carnival in LA last year. The Hard Pool Party is in full swing and fans smeared with fake blood of the Halloween variety (or possibly ketchup?) love every minute. So do two girls that apparently are hula-hoop masters. Also spotted are Lil Jon and Travis Barker, who is checking out the party while walking with his kids on the upper level.
5:19 p.m.: Pretty sure my cab driver is near death as I make my way to Nikki Beach for Robbie Rivera’s all-day, all-night Juicy Beach party. The cabbie is ancient and on oxygen, and I swear he dozed off at a stoplight. Nikki Beach, on the other hand, has a line wrapped around the building. Though this event was one of my main must-sees while in Miami because Rivera is bringing the party to Vegas soon, it was no-go. Though I’d been credentialed for months, I wasn’t allowed in thanks to the party being at capacity and the fire marshal on site. Yet something tells me that if I’d been able to pony up the dough for a five-bottle-minimum table for four people, I could have gained admittance (considering I overheard that told to a potential partier nearby).
1:11 a.m.: Took pictures of a couple on the actual beach rather than at Nikki Beach, walked a few miles, took a disco nap, then headed off to the Anjunabeats party at Karu & Y in downtown Miami. Upon entering the venue, one thing came to mind: hot, sweaty rave party! And it’s perfect! It’s wall-to-wall people and visuals during Andy Moor’s set. And the surprise guest for the night (okay, it was pretty easy to guess) is Above & Beyond. The entire crowd joins in to sing along to “Lonely Girl” about 30 minutes into the set and the party is going wild.
3:22 a.m.: Back across the bridge to Tantra and the tail end of Chris Garcia’s set at the 5th Annual Surreal Miami Unity Party. My fascination with Miami floor coverings continues and there’s real, live grass growing on the floor inside the lounge. The intimate venue has a lot of Las Vegans out in support. Jordan Stevens also spins for a bit, closing out the second room atop the most unusual DJ booth of the week, which kind of looked like a fireplace.
Friday, March 26: Belvedere Vodka Music Lounge, Beatport Beach Party, Ultra, One Night Only...
2:06 p.m.: Rain, rain, go away... It’s ruining my plans to go to Ultra today...
3:00 p.m.: Still overcast, but with fear of more rain I’ve decided to go to Ultra later in the evening and meet up with Lainie Copicotto of Aurelia Entertainment back at the Oasis at the Raleigh. I admit I’m also hoping the toys-of-the-adult-variety gifting suite that I thought I saw the day before wasn’t a figment of my imagination. Alas, no toys, but I do get to say hello to The Crystal Method before Lainie whisks me off to an exclusive shindig at the W Hotel.
6:01 p.m.: Switching musical gears at WMC for a minute, Kelis has taken the stage at the Belvedere Vodka Music Lounge at the W Hotel and the crowd has gone wild. I just chatted for a minute with DJ Skribble, who’ll have to leave the WMC craziness for the insanity of his Saturday night Freak Show residency at Studio 54 in Vegas. Nearby, Lainie is ecstatic that we’re in the presence of music icons Jimmy Iovine and Arthur Baker.
6:29 p.m.: Next door, the Gansevoort Hotel’s private beach has been taken over by Beatport and Roger Sanchez is on the decks. The stage and lighting setup is amazing and becomes even more so as the sun sets. Scotty Boy arrives to hang out, as does DJ Red, who worked with him on the “4 a.m. in Vegas” track they’re currently touting. I contemplate eating the mint leaves from DJ Red’s mojito as a substitute for the lunch I’d yet to grab, then put my hands up for Miami as Fedde le Grand takes the stage and launches into a slamming set. Even basketball star Tony Parker makes a guest appearance on the mic with le Grande.
10:16 p.m.: Finally confident the rain is gone and checking out the end of The Crystal Method’s live set at Ultra. While walking past the main stage, I keep stopping in awe of the massive setup, but then again, that’s probably why Ultra keeps winning the International Dance Music Award for best music event. But the real news for Vegas is our own DJ/production duo Svast & Stellar are closing out the Day Glow Arena with a banging set that left the crowd wanting more. The video loop of the Techno Viking didn’t hurt either.
12:55 p.m.: If I’ve ever wanted to see the majority of the biggest names in dance music — plus a keytar and alien masks thanks to Joachim Garraud — the Ice Palace Film Studios is where it’s at (and his just might be the most entertaining set of all of WMC). Ice Palace’s west building, better known as Karu & Y, is serving as only one area of the One Night Only... an AM Only event party. Bad Boy Bill, Josh Gabriel, MSTRKRFT, plus DJ Dan and Steve Porter as well as Judge Jules and Christopher Lawrence teaming up. Austin Leeds and Starkillers also are spinning and representing Vegas, though the venue and party are unlike anything we’ve ever seen here. The massive Ice Palace complex with multiple rooms and indoor environments plus an impressive lineup makes for one of my favorite club events of the trip to Miami.
Judge Jules Radio Sessions, Ultra, Vandit Ten Year Anniversary with Paul van Dyk
4:27 p.m.: Miami, you’re kicking my butt. The AM Only party was still going when we left at around 7 a.m. so I slept in, got stuck in traffic for the umpteenth time, but now am checking out Mr. & Mrs. Smith (aka Christopher Lawrence and his wife, Sara) DJ together at Nikki Beach for the Judge Jules Radio Sessions.
11:23 p.m.: Ultra is as epic as ever, especially all the fans with their homemade mau5heads in honor of Deadmau5 closing on the main stage. Points to the dude who made the eyes in his light up.
12:42 a.m.: Standing sober at the gas station outside of Bicentennial Parrk where Ultra was held trying to make a meal out of microwave mac and cheese, the crowd still pouring out if the event is almost as colorful as the action that was on stage. There’s a cuddle puddle of people near a gas pump and many folks blowing whistles and dancing to music only they can hear while wearing next to nothing.
1:10 a.m.: Walking over to Space, I catch the end of Filo & Perry’s set on night two of the Vandit 10 year anniversary as they play Cosmic Gate’s version of “Love Song” with Jes. Paul van Dyk then comes on around 2 a.m. and starts his set with “For an Angel.” The crowd is being worked into a frenzy and, according to my handy dandy Paul van Dyk iPhone app, I determine he’s playing at about 145 beats per minute. He also dropped Motorcycle’s “As the Rush Comes” and one of his newer tracks, “Home.” By almost 5 a.m. he still is commanding the crowd.
Beatport Beach Party, MMC Closing Party, Mixology
3:57 p.m.: Original plans to check out Wolfgang Gartner and Trent Cantrelle at the Beatport party were scratched because the free event hit capacity early. Had a lovely lunch on Lincoln, probably the first real meal since I’ve been in Miami, especially because if I ate one more slice of pizza I was going to puke.
7:05 p.m.: Enjoying the excitement of the Miami Music Conference closing party at the Surfcomber and the sounds of Benny Benassi... but from a friend’s hotel room overlooking the event next door. Pretty comfy, especially because all the running around all week is exhausting. Miami... you’re slowing winning.
8:18 p.m.: Group hunt involving mass tweeting, Facebooking, calling and texting ensues for a Las Vegas friend who’s been MIA all day.
11:10 p.m.: Stopping by the Rok Bar for the Ambassadors event with Vegas’ Keith Evan of House Society. Fantastic venue, diverse crowd and speakers everywhere! Plus open seating, so I’m won over.
12:34 a.m.: Missing friend located.
1:08 a.m.: Must. Go. To. One. More. Party... Want. To. Hear. Noel Sanger. Spin...
Get me the heck outta here...
4:23 p.m.: Oh Miami, I heart you so. I got to see some of the best DJs and producers, meet many of the very important people that throw the best parties, and eat an ungodly amount of pizza. I’m calling it your win this time, but it wasn’t without a fight on my part (catching a cold gave you an unfair advantage, as well). But hey, Miami, I’ll see you next March for a rematch, with plans to stay closer to South Beach, DayQuil in tow. And I’m bringing all of Vegas with me as backup.