The End of Ultra Miami

It is with a heavy heart that I write that Ultra will take place in Miami no more.

Almost a year ago, I re-launched My Miami Music from it’s origination in 2010, prompted by the heart-wrenching news of Avicii’s death. There was too much to say. (link here) And again, I write, because there is too much to say.

Ultra Music Festival changed my life. From 19 years old to 29, I grew up with, fought with, and rekindled a love for this hometown soiree. The fire, the fury, the random run-ins of friends as they came out of the nearest tent, balls-deep in sweat. These memories sound futile, but they encapsulate the magic of the Festival itself.

Lose yourself and find yourself. Whether you involve dancing, drinking, drugs, or relish in the lights and smog, the music is the ultimate catalyst to the magic one experiences. It’s yogic in a way. You’re looking at each other with dilated pupils, or smiles galore, and it’s that union of like-meets-like. Crazy-meets-crazy. And it feels normal. It feels like home. And in that moment of normalcy while feeling different, that’s the moment when a “lost” becomes “found.” That’s when anything that felt out of place, anything that seemed complicated, or unsure, falls aside. There is no longer a mold you’re fitting to, there’s no longer a form you’re adhering to. It’s true expression of self. It’s freedom. And with that, comes a peace in the madness, that only a house music addict can understand. It’s a release. A relief. A purity. Identities are renewed, perhaps even born. A breakthrough. And with eyes now open, there’s clarity and reassurance that you and the world are great because you’re still standing on your own two feet as yourself without the pre-conceived structures holding you back. You are free. You are smiling. And people surround you, assuring you, you’re doing just fine. 

When they say, “House music is a spiritual thing,” it’s really no joke. A certain strength comes from indulging in it. Immersing in it. They say spirituality is not for the faint of heart, well, neither is house music.

So I have to give my hands up to Ultra. Thank you for providing a context in which I could get lost and found. I needed it to become the person I am today. Those breaks of societal conventions and norms, provided some needed self-searching. Without it, I might have turned into a lifeless, corporate hull of a human. But there’s truth in the music. I think the music is almost what saved me. Cut all the bullshit. The models. The promotions. The tech. The famous people. Even the famous DJs. With good music, with the right ambiance, that release is possible. That connection to home. With self, Divine, other, it’s there. And in that, there is truth. You experience it, and know it’s real. That’s why the music becomes magnetic. It’s the connection, between so many elements. And we see the same people on the scene, because they know the potent magic that lives, that which can also lie dormant if not given the right opportunity.

So thank you for the right opportunities Ultra. Many years I enjoyed the beauty you set up.

As for practicality, if Ultra is no more, what does that mean for Winter Music Conference? Does the term Miami Music Week still live? Will I still get to see Carl Cox throw down his disco set at annual closing party at Basement Sunday night? These are all very good questions, none of which I have the answers to, but we will surely find out.

With you, Miami. <3 

MMW Prep + Q&A

We are exactly 30 days away from the first MMW week party. Are you ready?

First, the essentials:

  • Portable battery charger
  • Good earplugs (these have lasted me a year now. I love them. As a 5’8 female, I use the “smaller” earplugs.)
  • Gum and Blow-pops (no other lollipops will do)
  • Comfortable dancing shoes (shock-absorbent, that you don’t mind getting dirty/wet).
  • Sunglasses that are nice, but that you also don’t mind losing.
  • A watch (for set-times)…pulling out your phone is annoying.
  • A pack of tissues (never rely on bathroom stalls having what they need)
  • A bandana. (I like to tie mine around the wrist.) It can act as a last-resort cleaning tool (think dirt in your eye), or coverage from direct sunlight (think heat exhaustion).
  • Cash. Nothing is worst than having to use an ATM at a pool party after waiting in line for a drink. Cash also makes all drink stands at Ultra accessible.
  • Access to my upcoming events page so you can decide in last-minute/ on-the-go party-hopping.

Now the beware guide:

  • The Delano charges $17 for a bottle of water (includes tax and gratuity). This is a complete rip-off. I suggest chugging water before going into one of their parties and just riding it out sober, because no one has time to dehydrate and hydrate at those prices.
  • Ultra security guards can be bitches. I walked in early last year and they wouldn’t let me in with a back-pack (despite having used it the past two days). I spent $60 on a see-through Guess bag at Bayside so I could make it in to see my favorite trance artists (Gabriel & Dresden) perform. You do NOT want to commit this mistake while you are on Virginia Key. There will be no easily-accessible shops to come to your rescue. Read the dress code of what is allowed because as I was told, “It changes every year.”

Now that you are prepared with a checklist, and know what not to do. Let’s talk about the kick-off. On Saturday, March 23rd the Nervous Records/Made in Miami pool party launches MMW 2019. This year, it will be held at The National, and the ringing-in is a must for locals.

I say this, but I will also admit, I haven’t been to one since 2014, and that’s because of the change in scheduling. It was easier to fit in the party during the weekend of Ultra, but to start the week early has always seemed like a superhero-status move. Maybe I’m feeling strong this year. (Barre class, what’s up.)

And we will need our strength starting Wednesday. It’s a hopper alright. A must-see for me is Hector Couto, which means I’ll be at the National again to see him along with Seb Zito, Nathan Barato, ALX, and more.

Trade re-emerges like a high-school reunion, and the parties there kick off Wednesday as well with wAFF, Max Chapman, and a special guest. For nostalgia and the music, I must make an appearance.

And lastly, to end the night on a magical note, I intend to finally see Yotto, who will be at Treehouse. Ambitious? You don’t know the lengths I will go.

Meanwhile Adam Beyer, Luciano, and Steve Lawler were all contenders on my list, but Beyer will be at Ultra and Luciano and Lawler are all over the map. However, the Carl Craig, Steve Lawler, Danny Teneglia, wAFF pool party on Wednesday at the Epic might cross off a lot of boxes. I need to find out where else Hector Couto is playing. (TBD)

Thursday, I require a nap after work. And I won’t be shocked if I reach a similar Art-Basel-kind-of-delirium by Friday evening. Work, nap, party, nap. Repeat. I got NO time off people. So no complaining.

Thursday, my MAN will be playing at Treehouse. I will always call him my first love (because his music is what really drew me in), DIRTY SOUTH. I love him. And even though I just saw him a couple of months ago for his new album release party (‘Darko’!!), I have to be there. If you don’t support your favorite DJ, what rules are you operating on in this environment? It’s a moral compass. It’s a clear right and wrong decision. And I don’t intend to screw that up. Ever. So first up, Dirty South.

He plays an open-to-close set. I find this marketing ironic because years ago, DJs would play significant set times, no need to market “open-to-close,” but now-a-days, DJs play their two hours and they’re done. But not Dirty South. He shut-it-down last time, and he’ll be shutting it down again. Whether I stay all six hours? Oh, that is hard to tell. Treehouse isn’t my favorite venue. But I loveee Dirty. Pryda, on the other hand, will be what everyone talks about, but he’ll also be at Ultra so it’s not a complete loss. (Factory is a bangin’ venue though.)

If I make it to Factory for Pryda, I’m definitely finding a way into the West Room (the smaller room) for Mark Knight. I like challenges like this. One, because it saves me money, and two, it forces me to network. At my stage in the game, (12+ years now), if you’re not getting hooked up some-way some-how, you’re doing it wrong. I don’t always win, but it’s a fun game to play.

Above and Beyond is also at RC Cola Thursday night, but they too will be at Ultra. I also HATE the setup of the RC Cola plant because the entrance is right next to the stage. I went one year to the A&B party and I couldn’t last more than 30 minutes because of the bottleneck of people at the entrance. My anxiety was through the non-existent roof. The venue is not setup for at-capacity numbers, and the gridlock was way too much for me to handle.

Friday is the beginning of the end, and Ultra hasn’t even begun. There’s the Epic pool party, which I want to see because of the line-up. Artists I haven’t seen before like Lee Foss, Michael Bibi, Huxley, Detlef, and Secondcity will be there along with others I have seen like MK & Prok & Fitch. Then, I go onto Ultra.

Saturday, I won’t want to move. But I’m obliged. I must finally check out the Get Lost party, Elrow, and I love some Anjunabeats. So I’ll take my leisure here. It’s my weekend after all.

Sunday, I’m back in it to win it. I start with the Ants pool party (depending on the set times) or more likely I’ll just head straight to Ultra. I will be in that Carl Cox tent shutting it down for the first time on a Sunday!

Pros of this intinerary: Do-able, I get to see new events and new artists, and I get to partake in some nostalgic experiences as well.

Cons: No surfcomber pool party on the agenda 🙁

Now, some Q&A if you’re riding a different itinerary, which all of you will be. And odds are, I will be too. But planning is part of the fun. 🙂

Q. What yacht party do you recommend for the week?

A. I was a big fan of sunrise cruises, but it doesn’t look like they do those anymore. All the yacht parties are at sunset, and if I were to choose one, I would choose Sasha + Yotto on the Biscayne Lady. However, it might be interesting to take the cruise on Friday for tINI because you might get a unique glimpse of Ultra at the same time.

Have another question? DM me and maybe I’ll add to this list 🙂 Happy MMW shopping everyone!

The concept of DJ-meets-Food

In 2013, the concept was novel. Never before had I danced so heavily under the same roof offering a sit-down breakfast.

The setting was highly unlikely as I was approaching the end of a 36-hour dance marathon on the Groove Cruise. And despite the great tunes of the Cocodrills that sunrise morning, I desperately needed food. Perhaps the genius unfolded when I saw someone else lead the way. But I was so fortunate to grab my waffles, bacon, and syrup with a glass of orange juice and come right back outside, to happily dance in my seat and shake my head, while not having to leave what my ears wanted to listen to. 

I was having a readily available meal still in the range of great sound. And I’m not talking hunched over by a rope or a pole, on the other side of the venue, scarfing down a hamburger or falafel. It was a proper sit-down meal with silverware and dining table, adjacent to the dance floor. I had always had to sacrifice sounds for something delicious, but this wasn’t the case. I listened, and I tasted. I relaxed. It was sensory overload I had never experienced before. 

No wonder the concept’s taken off.

In Miami, 1-800-Lucky is the truest form of this ambiance as you can have a sit-down meal next to a proper dance floor where neither sound or accessibility is compromised. You can pop-in or you can pop-out.

It took over five years for this concept to manifest locally from that fateful morning on deck when the Under the Radar parties began at 1-800-Lucky last April. And despite the party being less than a year old now, it would be hard to identify Miami’s dance culture without Lucky operating each and every weekend. It’s become a rite of passage, a safe-haven, a go-to, to anyone hungry, for music or for food.

We have warmly welcomed, and perhaps may even be migrating towards this dynamic of food-meets-listening pleasure. But what does that mean for our club culture?

Well, if it wasn’t cut-throat before, competition is certainly fierce now. A club charges money upfront, usually without re-entry, whereas an eating establishment removes that initial barrier of cost. It allows patrons to flow freely in and out, giving patrons autonomy over the time and money they dedicate to a given place.

Clubs are modern-day monogamy.

They are an investment. And like monogamy, clubs offer an intimacy that is hard to find elsewhere. It’s attraction of like-meets-like. Both attendees have offered up their autonomy, their freedom, to conduct themselves in the confines of said-establishment. It’s a community of the devoted. To the DJ, to the club, to each other. There is no room to threesome with food or other less passionate patrons.

But what is also happening with our club culture? The novelty of a club used to be that an outsider had no idea what was going on inside. The curiosity was almost painful. What is going on in there? Well, social media has changed the game. On any Sunday morning, you can check the Location stories of various venues and see if what you missed on was all that special. So you may convince yourself to save a dollar or a hundred and just watch clips the morning after.

I recently spent a Sunday afternoon with Ivano Bellini, and he remarked how the two things you used to go to a club for, music and to hook-up, you can now do from the privacy from your bedroom. (Thanks to the Smartphone.) 

So what is drawing people out? Well, we all still have to eat, we all still need human-to-human interaction, and we all still love music. So a winning combination seems to provide an element of each of these. Thus, we see the burgeoning of venues, be it lounges, restaurants, or food courts, hosting top-notch DJs alongside delectable food.

What are some of the venues I’m speaking of? Well, just featured in my latest interview with Patrick M is Chotto Matte, a restaurant/lounge off Lincoln Road owned by UK underground DJ William Noble, where music is an important component of the experience. STK, Komodo, and Villa Azur are other party locations known to provide food as well as DJs, but without a proper dance floor. (And sometimes stick with Top 40 music, bleck.)

It seems like rooftop lounges in Wynwood have the setup with space to dance, such as No. 3 Social and the newer Astra, but a dance phenomena has yet to ensue in these locations. It seems the only place to really get you sweating to the beats is 1-800-Lucky. And I believe it won’t be long before another establishment tries to compete.

Do I think clubs will go away altogether? No, like I said, there’s a special bond made in the club-going experience. That alone will keep clubs in business. People will pay to be united with their kind, to share in something that’s not-to-be-repeated. 

Clubs also pay homage most significantly to the music (ok, not all clubs do this.) It is important having a space where music is the single most important aspect. Not the light show spectacle or the taste of the foie gras. So a club can achieve this. Sometimes all it takes is a dark room and a good soundsystem to make a night “the-best-night-ever. “

That being said, what could be improved upon? I would love to see a venue open up at 7am and take the Space crowd to a type of 1-800-Lucky establishment, but serving breakfast (tying in with my first experience of DJ-meets-food), and having the party continue in a cleaner, more modern establishment. That would be magnificent, to watch the sunrise in that capacity. Maybe incorporate a water element? A misting area? I may be getting crazy here, but there’s so much opportunity in how we can incorporate music and food in our 24/7-Miami-lifestyle culture. It’s our responsibility to push the limits with our music scene. So what will we create next? Can you help create something new? If not, how will you support (with your pocketbook) the venues you want to see thrive?

That being said, 1-800-Lucky doesn’t miss a beat. Sunday night they will host Patrick M for the first time. Let’s keep showing our support. And if you missed it, check my interview with Patrick M, and get to know a little bit of our home-grown talent! (Well, home-grown, enough 😉 ) See you on the dance floor!

Exclusive interview with Patrick M

Q. You came from Argentina over 15 years ago. How did you start your career in Miami?

Actually, I came to Miami in 2001, just to see what was going on. My first months here were really tough. I got my first gigs at some private parties, and then I started selling records at Grooveman Music. Those opportunities made me stay.

Q. In 2005, you joined the Club Space team as a resident DJ, alongside Ivano Bellini and Louis Puig. How was it joining the original team? Were you warmly welcomed? And do you still keep in touch with some of the resident DJs from that time?

It was really good at that time. Cedric [Gervais] was also a resident after he left Crobar on South Beach. At the beginning, it wasn’t easy. I came with a kind of a different sound. Some people didn’t get it. But after a period of time, I started to feel that magic on the terrace. Yes, I still keep in touch with Ivano, Louis, and some of the big guests we used to have.

Q. Would you say Space catapulted your career as a Miami DJ, or was it some other opportunity that paved the way?

Space was the big thing, but I cannot forget Nikki Beach on Sundays and Nocturnal with Roland & Biz for “Local Celebrity.” Both those parties helped me a lot.

Q. In all the years, is there a particular party in Miami, that you DJ-ed, that stands out as your favorite?

There’s a couple to remember. One was a 4th of July party with Erick Morillo, and then there was a pool party playing with Danny Tenaglia.

Q. Where are you playing these days? Do you approach music differently than let’s say 10 years ago?

I’m playing in Miami right now at select venues. I’m at the 1 Hotel Rooftop bi-weekly, spin Saturdays at Chotto Matte, and I also have a monthly residency at No. 3 Social. I am also doing gigs out of town, like in LA, NYC, Texas, Mexico, and Buenos Aires, just to name a few. I’m definitely in a different stage right now with my music. I would say I’m more house oriented.

Q. Do you have any comments on the Miami music scene as it stands today? Is there something you want to achieve professionally in 2019?

The Miami scene has been changing a lot lately, but it’s definitely one of the best in the world right now. For me, I want to keep DJing as Patrick M, and I want keep pushing my new project DYAB, which is a new alias of mine. It’s more melodic and deep style/afro house. My first release is already out on Beatport.

Q. Currently, you have a residency at Chotto Matte off Lincoln Road on Miami Beach. When did this start?

This is a cool place that opened up in April 2018. The original one is in Soho, London. It isn’t a club, but sometimes it looks like it. There are packed nights at this Japanese restaurant with a great bar, owned by one of the best underground London DJs, William Noble. So music there is very important, and the customers really appreciate that. The staff there is simply amazing with some of the best team-work I’ve seen.

Q. Have you been able to try anything on the menu? If so, what is your favorite dish or drink?

The menu is great!! The nikkei sashimi and octopus anticucho are my favorites. As for drinks, I definitely recommend, “She is so Smoking.”

Q. The new year came not too long ago. Is there a new year’s resolution that you’re keeping with?

Well, one of my resolutions as a DJ/Producer is to try to get out more new music. I want to release on my own label, Xima Records, but also on others that I’m fond of.

Q. Lastly, you have a gig coming up at 1-800-Lucky. I believe this is your first time spinning there? What kind of set can we expect to hear from you?

Oh yessss, I’m so excited to play there on Sunday, February 17th. It’s my debut at this solid party, which is presented by one of the biggest legends in the industry, Roger Sanchez. I’m definitely working on some good tracks. Always funky and groovy with some vocals, and of course, some classics as well. It’s going to be a fun night, and I promise to take you on a good trip 😉

Thanks, Patrick. Catch Patrick M spinning this Friday and Saturday at Chotto Matte or Sunday at 1-800-Lucky and be a part of the experience everyone is talking about! Groove, while you eat!

Coconut Groove explained

Daniel Travieso, otherwise known as “Festi-Dan,” gives us a better understanding of his brand, Coconut Groove.

Q. What is Coconut Groove? And what was your inspiration in starting it?

Coconut Groove is just an outlet for musical artists to create high energy moments in an intimate setting. 

Believe it or not, Pearl Jam is where my passion for music and live performances stems from. Having attended 25 of their legendary shows, I grew appreciation for “live” music and “live performances” and the moments created and shared by everyone in attendance.  I began hosting an annual mini festival/ charity fundraiser called Festidan back in 2007 that featured live bands and DJs with all different types of music.  After 10 years of hosting this event, I decided to just focus on small parties (less headaches) featuring evolved progressive music that had completely taken over my ears.

In August of 2017, we hosted a small intimate island party off Dinner Key in Coconut Grove and through a mutual friend had asked local talent and Heart nightclub resident Fiin to grace us with music all day.  At sunset it began to rain and everyone huddled up under the gazebo.  That intimate moment where everyone danced together and the Djs took us into the night was an unbelievable and memorable night cap.  Recreating and capturing high energy moments in Coconut Grove became a priority and Coconut Groove was born.

Q. A year and a half later, do you feel like you’re achieving the objective that was initially set forth in creating Coconut Groove? 

Unfortunately, having a normal job with regular hours limits the amount of attention that can be allocated to this hobby.  However, it’s been an amazing run and string of parties that we’ve been able to put together, and I’m excited about the direction of the concept.

Our original objective was to bring evolved music and those who appreciate it to comfortable and intimate locations around the village of Coconut Grove.  I think we’ve been able to achieve that, and our tribe continues to grow with the right people who are responsible and understand that the focus of these gatherings is the music.

Q. What kind of events do you throw and how often? 

I try and emphasize that we host parties, not events.  These parties are not profitable and they are occurring for the sole purpose of creating good energy in our neighborhood.  With that said, each of our parties are different and we only focus on one at a time. 

Q. If a new-comer was to go to one of your hosted events, what kind of music can he or she expect?

We look to partner up with musical artists that play for the evolved ear.  New and fresh sounds that keep you moving and vibrating at a high frequency.

Q. What are your thoughts about the renovation of Coco-walk? Do you think a new venue space will open up there for music events?

I don’t support a lot of the construction and new buildings that are going up in our neighborhood.  The Cocowalk renovation, however, was overdue, and although I don’t expect for there to be an event space we can utilize, I’m excited for the energy and life that it’s going to bring to the Grove. It will be mostly comprised of office spaces with some retail, so we should see a substantial spike in foot traffic in the area.

Q. Lastly, your next event is February 8th at Tavern in the Grove. What is the scene like for someone who’s never been before? How should one dress for the part?

The Tavern Takeover is our most laidback party.  3 DJ’s, 3 different vibes, all sharing music, going b2b2b.  The Tavern is your traditional college dive-bar, so if you’re dressed, you meet the dress code.  Having worked there in 2003-2004, it brings back nostalgic memories and it’s a great feeling to be drinking again at this legendary spot I used to call home.

——-So if you find yourself in Coconut Grove tomorrow for happy hour, dinner, or a late-night rendevouz, be sure to swing by Tavern and get a pulse on the dance music that exists there too. See you out there!