Wild Week at Winter Music Conference 2010
Miami! Miami! Miami! I just spent a wild week at Winter Music Conference 2010, quite possibly the world’s largest gathering ever of electronic music fans, freaks and friends in the flashy city of blingy blue ocean waves, lazy palm trees, slick star-scrapers and an energy level almost as high as the dance floor.
A week-long cavalcade of party after party after rave after boat after beach after pool after rooftop, WMC is most definitely a one-of-a-kind experience that every electronic music lover should experience at least once before you go to meet the great beatmaker in the sky.
ULTRA MUSIC CONFERENCE: Insane, ridiculous, massive, mind-blowing… how ever many superlatives you can think of, add a few more on there and maybe you’ll get an inkling of the Ultra. Selling out with an attendance over 100,000 on Saturday, Ultra topped the Electric Daisy Carnival in LA as the largest rave in the US, San Francisco’s Lovefest notwithstanding (it is impossible to get a head count on this free festival).
And it was crowded. Fences were pushed down as was I; I lost track of the number of times I was shoved not by accident but on purpose, even being knocked to the trash-covered ground more than once without even a “hey sorry!” Come on, ravers- your disrespect for the earth and inconsideration for your fellow dancers becomes more legendary with every rave I attend. Get your shit together.
Nevertheless, Ultra (especially the second day) was most definitely a top highlight of my WMC. The music acts were top notch; in particular the Biscayne Stage on Saturday with the lineup of Caspa, the Glitch Mob, Skream with Benga as MC, Rusko, Bassnectar, Major Lazer, Pendulum then LTJ Bukem. Tight.
The Carl Cox tent was fun if not hot as hell, and the UMF Radio stage where I caught Excision the first day was an exhalable off-shoot. If you know me at all you will know that I didn’t waste much time on the big name hoo-ha’s on the lineup- although I did hear from several people that Tiesto sucked, seemed unable to work his own visuals and became visibly frustrated and pissed off in the process. Sorry to all my friends who are die-hard Tiesto fans like Evan Sugarpill, and Goner.
People were super faded, brightly colored, dancing their rave-sludge covered shoes off, jumping up stage-side to dance and delighting in the massive pyrotechnics and lasers that were dazzling distractions. Ultra could do MUCH more with the art side of things, however there was a small live mural painting and some other weak efforts made. Outside the venue people were selling $1 water bottles and fake Ultra staff badges, which seemed to work fairly well. Tip for next year: Sneak your shit in; everyone does. They don’t search your person, only your bag, and that is why God invented crotches, people. Well one of the reasons *wink wink.
Getting a cab to or from Ultra was almost impossible; I managed it only by literally jumping in the middle of the road in order to flag down a taxi with an empty seat, then bribing the riders by offering to pay over half the fare. I saw parking lots near the festival charging $50, although some of my smart friends simply hopped on the bus.
MIAMI: Miami is a beautiful city on the ocean, a modern metropolis on an international scale whose attitude is deserved if a little abrasive for someone used to the laid-back, Left Coast lean. Miami likes its bling, shiny shirts, rhinestones, Ed Hardy, and miniskirts so short you could see hoochie from the back. Dress code? Anything goes. The ladies are absolutely gorgeous, tan, heeled and round in all the right places; my skinny white ass was certainly a bit out of place- as was pointed out to me by strangers, repeatedly.
SOUTH BEACH: Though many of my friends stayed in downtown or even further out, I would most definitely recommend staying in South Beach. Whether you stay in a pimp ass condo with three balconies and a pool on the roof smack on 9th & Ocean like my friend Joey- or further away and at a cheap hotel and ankle-train it, South Beach is well worth it since the action is all on the beach- plus the beach is on the beach. You can go for a nice dinner at 3AM and buy drinks at the bar until 5AM, which makes Cali’s strict liquor laws look like toddler time. South Beach bubbles and broils 24/7, with superior people-watching opportunities as everyone gets swervier and slippier as the night carries on.
FOOD: Miami is very expensive, particularly on South Beach, and much of the food I ate was not up to par, as the tourist-oriented places only need to get you in the door- who cares if the food is crap, you are never coming back anyway. Of course this opinion is no doubt heavily colored by my experience getting food poisoning, which laid me up from Saturday night until Monday afternoon. It was awesome! But by and large most of the food I ate on South Beach was sub-par except for the delicious sushi on the final night.
ALCOHOL: Wet Willie’s was everything that you all told me it would be; delicious malt liquor concoctions named “Call-A-Cab,” and “Shock Treatment” were blended and poured down the gullet at an astonishing rate.
MONEY MONEY MONEY: $6 cans of coke and bouncers asking for $150 payoffs await those who come unprepared for the parties at WMC. Ultra was charging $5 for water and $7 for beer, which seems downright affordable comparatively.
SLIPPERY: I was so proud of my party (well okay it was Afromonk’s party) which banged out amazing music all night long, in a small red room with heady sound and a sweet ass lineup of glitch heads: Mochipet, Fresh2Death, S.P.E.C.T.R.E., Pressha, Siren, HipGnosis, Stutterfly, Afromonk, Munkz, Gooddroid, Bryce & MC Farfetched. The nearby outdoor area gave the venue a bonus whoosh of energy and fresh air, which helped to lessen the effects of marinating in cigarette smoke all night – Miami still allows smoking inside.
TRANSPORTATION: Flying into Fort Lauderdale definitely saves money on the air ticket, but getting to the FLL airport from South Beach took four vehicles and three hours- as I had not booked the $24 shuttle early enough and resorted to public transportation. At lease it cost less than $5! Getting around Miami with no car definitely put a damper on my usual party hopping; with my own vehicle I would have been much more likely jump over to the next party- but when it’s a $20 cab fare, you think twice before you make the party upgrade.
MUSIC: There was a surprising lack of electro and breaks for what I expected in Miami, as well as a shocking absence of trance at Ultra. House dominated; particularly the funky, Latin-flavored house beats that go well with warm climates and drinks made with rum. Bass music from the West Coast and elsewhere was most certainly represent-IN!
WEATHER: With only a few sunny days with blue skies, the weather was not as nice as I expected or packed for; I wore leggings under my shorts the first day of Ultra and was rained in on Monday morning, lacking any kind of rain gear or spare set of tennis shoes. The gorgeous days however were absolutely brilliant and I was happy to get some beach time in.
GETTING IN: I just walked into several parties (the blond helps), my friends jumped more than one fence up back alleys, and I spent the last minutes of my last night trying to pick a Master Lock on the door to a hot tub on a roof unsuccessfully, despite the Youtube instructional video rolling on my iPhone. HEY we needed something to take off the chill from the Wet Willies smoothies!
FRIENDS: The very best part of WMC was no doubt hanging out with various friends from different places all over the international electronic music community. I would run into Smoggers in back rooms of clubs, Seattle homies on the streets, and buddies from San Francisco on the beach. I missed many “don’t miss” parties despite being on the list because I knew the real parties were where my friends were.
ALL IN ALL it was a huge experience with many wild facets, quite the inspiration for any electronic music fan. Although many people are just in Miami to party their brains out and don’t give a shit what kind of music the speakers are pumping as long as their fists are, WMC is truly a gathering of the international electronic music community, with trends set to continue on into the year ahead and beyond *cough* dubstep.
WMC is an absolute wonderland of beats- almost every restaurant, club and café is blasting out some genre of beats, people are happy, lively, dancing and in love. Including me, with Miami, even though it took until the last night when I had recovered from being sick not ill. After sushi and smoothies with friends, I walked back to my condo alone under a near-full moon on the beach, singing “Forever Young” at the top of my lungs and knowing that I would never, ever forget this incredible week at Winter Music Conference 2010.
- Swimming in the warm ocean on South Beach
- Dancing in the press area for Bassnectar’s set at Ultra, Day 2 (see the videos here)
- Running into best friends on the street
- Wet Willies smoothies Shock Treatment + Call a Cab
- West Coast Sound on the East Coast!
- Wandering around at night by myself on strange city streets
- Bloody Marys on the beach
- Dropping my iPhone off a 4th floor balcony and it still working
- Walking into a rave with an unsearched backpack
- The music at Slippery- top fucking notch!
- Partying in Joey’s sweet ass condo in the middle of everything w/my crew from the 206
- The dome at Ultra! Like the Playa, except with rules like no climbing on the roof or humping the DJ
- The beautiful, colorful crowd at Ultra.
COULD HAVE SKIPPED:
- Food poisoning. Not a fan.
- Ciggy smoke in all the clubs
- Miami public transportation, especially the suck ass cabs
- Torrential downpours of rain, chilly weather and wind gales
- Oceans of raver litter at Ultra
Photo thanks to Jeff Lazer Envy & Mike B