March 30, 2022
Like Flies to the Light…only to be betrayed
It shimmers. It promises. It’s delivered before. Ultra.
The year is 2022. A musical genre that used to spook people has become your neighbor’s backyard BBQ party, a very expensive one at that. Is this a festival that Miami should be supporting? It’s our baby. But, so much time has passed since 1998, and sometimes relationships end for a reason.
First, I get into the music and examine the Resistance versus EDM divide. Then I attempt to answer the question: What are Ultra attendees getting for their money? I prove that a festival born by Miamians is no longer representative of Miamians, and lastly, I weigh the cultural betrayal against the economic benefit to answer the question – is Ultra Miami a good thing for Miami and music, and should we be supporting it?
I wish I could say this is the first year where I felt Ultra artists under-delivered, but that’s simply not the case. In 2014, when house music got full-on ugly, DJs were OD-ing left & right during MMW. “Confetti music,” a term coined by original Space owner Louis Puig, was peaking, and that’s when I first felt the void. I wouldn’t return to Ultra for another 4 years.
So how does 2022 compare to 2014? Well…I really hoped we had seen the worst of it. 2018, Ultra’s 20th anniversary, was a spectacular showcase, but it seems a revival was short-lived. That year was followed by a disaster year on the key. And then two years of silence.
In 2022, with hopes for a new era continued from the 2018 glory last seen at that venue, I wanted to either cry or vomit. For the first time in my life, I cringed at music being played. My best coping mechanism was to cover my ears as I was forced to pass some stages. Not to say all music was cringe-worthy. The best sets that I could enjoy:
1) Ilario Alicante
2) Dom Dolla
Why not some of the bigger players? Well with Carl Cox, the music felt safe. I have also now seen him play a 5-6 hr set at Brooklyn Mirage, and now can see I shine and so does the crowd from his long sets making him shine, too. I’d prefer to have one day of Ultra with a seven-hour Cox set versus the seven hours over three days that he performed.
As for Capriati, I loved his style. He did the job setup before him, unlike Bibi who perhaps intentionally bombed before him. So I can’t say it was in my top three because all day Friday was bad music except for him. The main role of his set was as a resuscitator – not a “transcender, which is a term I’m coining. If you had experienced the 2018 line up of Maceo Plex, then Jamie Jones, then Cox, you would understand the difference between transcendence in a set versus revival.
So what is it about Ilario that earns him the number 1 spot? Well, first of all, he’s a hard DJ to get to play here in Miami. There was plenty of space to dance at the guardrail. And the music was well-varied, from fast to slow, screeching techno to deep house. It seemed to hit all of the right notes, just like a well-baked cookie. A little sweet, a little salty, crunchy, chewy, warm. And who doesn’t like a good cookie? Every part of it made me want to shimmy and dance. I even got the chance to shout out an, “I love you!” during a soft spot in the set, which made him smile and a girl on stage smile and laugh, which in turn made me smile.
It was so much fun, dancing by myself at the guardrail to good music, meeting new acquaintances in the sunshine.
RESISTANCE V. EDM
What wasn’t fun was feeling ostracized/cut-off from the remainder of the festival. When I was younger, and so was Ultra, the music mixed. I remember walking by the Drum and Bass tent with my friends, and just standing for a few moments in awe, enjoying it, while moving on to our next tent. There was a mixture of elements, yet also a cohesiveness to the culture, to the event, to the palatability & curiosity of music.
2 Stages v. 4 stages. I’m not sure where the term “Resistance” originated. I’d like to maybe sue that person for defamation of what was a perfectly fine, unadulterated mixture of genres, including, but not limited to techno, tech house, electro, bass, and acid. Somehow these genres got cut off from other genres such as progressive, nu-disco, Dirty Dutch, tropical, and dubstep. (EDM)
Trance and Drum & Bass don’t even make listing. They’re neither. So where do they go? The “other” category? If you’re with me, you’re against this “Resistance” talk. It’s always been about house music. One love. Feel the love generation. If pop is pop, let it be at a pop festival. If house is house, let it be at a house festival.
Putting a VERSUS into the mix is not what Bob Sinclair was talking about.
As for money invested, and for being a fan of the genres that include techno, tech house, etc., I’m insulted by the limitation to two stages of what I consider to be the cultural threads of house music. In numbers, that’s 33% of festival for people like me. Could I in good conscience pay to attend a festival that showcases my preferences as the minority? Well, yes, if I found the 67% vaguely interesting, curious, or palpable like in younger years. But I’m not finding it so. I’d rather hear new Reggae or Rock or stay home than hear screeching noise and 10-year-old songs badly remixed.
So I ask, should the 33% even be part of festivals like this? I mean, the stages are already setup that way with a specific path to and from the two stages, ostracized to the north, while EDM stages take up the larger southside grounds.
But the worst part…..the worst part about the 33% spending the money….is that one of the stages didn’t even have an even-surface dance floor. To me, it’s where the best sets were performed, and I had to dance on a hill? They couldn’t construct a wooden platform like organizers for Tomorrowland in Belgium will do? This was just nuts. I’m still suffering from knee pain. In fact, based on the hill alone, I would probably vote against Ultra (by just not going) because I couldn’t reasonably dance to my favorite music! What is that about?! Making us the minority is one thing. But to take another 16% away from me because I can’t dance on a flat surface? Shame on you.
As for the 66%, surely they are getting their fix. But their music isn’t for me. And I would consider the divide not being “Resistance” versus EDM, but rather EDM versus Pop. To me, that is the change I’m seeing. Ultra will one day exclusively become a Pop festival.
Beyond the movement of music, which I suppose could be a betrayal in itself, the saddest thing is that Ultra is no longer representative of its birthplace Miami. The proof is in the details:
1. My arepa was served to me by a guy from Virginia. Pre-cooked, he noted that the Arepas are made locally (I would hope so). Furthermore, he admitted he had never had an arepa in his life. AND the most insulting part of the interaction is that he let my arepa slip into melted ice water and tried to put it back on the grill, telling me it would be fine. No sir, that is NOT ok.
2. I met two production crew members on the metro-rail. I found out, it’s not a local crew. They were both from Washington, DC. They explained that Ultra hires the production companies & that the production companies outsource to labor companies. So the same people essentially are building the light and stage design at festivals across the country. So much for festivals being unique. Isn’t it the people (creators and production staff included) that make festivals special/unique?
3. Syndicate – The last and probably most obvious reason why Ultra has lost its Miami magic is that it went corporate. According to Google, Ultra now conducts its name-brand spectacle in 29 countries. No wonder it no longer feels like home.
TO SUPPORT OR NOT SUPPORT ULTRA
Why is the cultural betrayal important? The first and foremost reason to keep Ultra Miami is the economic benefit. “But it brings so much money to our city!” is a popular response. Well, wait a minute…
1. Does Ultra bring money to our city or does Miami Music Week?
2. Didn’t I just tell you about three non-Miamians working the festival? Is Miami’s labor force benefitting? Friday afternoon rolls around and downtown Miami is a mess for our corporate workers trying to get home (Florida-resident laborers). To be fair, I had a locally-made Arepa, but do we know what kind of deal the organizers are cutting for our people?
3. Is the festival beneficial for local economics? Part of my ticket is paying for the flight, meals, and hotel rooms for these Non-Floridian residents, such as the guy from Virginia, and the two from Washington, DC.
My Miami Money isn’t going back into Miami. That’s my conclusion. I exclusively attended Ultra this year, and outside of pay for Metro-rail transit, all my money went towards this festival. Was it worth it? Is it worth it for my city?
I did see my dollars be used in a cool, fun way. The Carl Cox megastructure this year was spectacular with synchronized parallel light beams that not only went up and down in rhythm or in unison, but also tilted side to side. That’s technology on a scale I have never seen before at a music festival. So my conclusion is that the money is going into Production. It’s not going into the User Experience. Because if it was about the User Experience…they would have made a flat dancefloor for the Cove. Pyrotechnics, LED lights, Nitrogen gas – sure – but a flat deck to dance? That’s what they chose to skip?
My recommendation is to let Ultra be Ultra. In reference to betrayal, you can’t tame a beast. If they’ll listen, I say take the entire “Resistance” culture out. Make the festival smaller to 3-4 stages which tailors to the pop music attendee population. That way, Biscayne Blvd doesn’t have to be blocked off, benefitting our commuters. Or just take it away, and let live music bands/DJs actually use Bayfront park as it was intended to be used. (When was the last time you noticed a show there?)
We are hurting desperately because Miami has lost its home, its community to corporate music giants. It’s our firemen, our policemen, our trash collectors and trash piles that are being used and perhaps abused. We first saw the sell-out of DJs like Guetta & Kaskade. Now we are seeing the sell-out of music events like Ultra. I suppose by now I’ve reached my conclusion that I do not support “Ultra.” In the past, yes, that name was gold, and can still be held as dear to so many Miamians’ hearts, myself included. But that word means something completely different now.
I want back what “UMF” used to represent. Maybe I’ll have the chance to create something that has to be whispered in the hallways of high school again. As I keep going down this My Miami Music road…thanks for joining me on the journey. There is hope yet.
March 8, 2022
Church with Aaron Lewis
An unexpected venue for an unexpected visitor.
Last Wednesday I went to the Seminole Casino in Coconut Creek, about an hour north of South Miami to see the maven on the mic, Aaron Lewis. You may better recognize him as the lead singer of the band, Staind.
I witnessed Staind at the first Welcome to Rockville festival held at the Daytona Speedway last year. Welcome to Rockville is a festival that’s been held in Jacksonville for about 6 or 7 years, until it got so big, that they decided last year post-pandemic to take up the entire racetrack in neighboring Daytona Beach.
It was awesome. 165,000 fans showed up over the course of four days to see a plethora of bands, with the headliner Metallica playing both opening and closing night. It’s now been recorded as the largest Rock event in U.S. history, and this was November when pandemic was still a concern in some states. Well, not Florida! It seemed to be a liberation festival. We were done with masks & isolation. It was time to move forward and onward with our lives. So we celebrated.
Aaron Lewis was the highlight of my experience for the two days I went. His voice caught my attention. I had originally come to see bands like The Offspring and others I can’t even name right now. But Staind. Wow.
Aaron Lewis has a voice that is versatile, magnetic, soulful, and relatable. It’s the kind of voice we all wish we had to sing with instead of the screeching raccoons we probably sound like in the shower (Ok, that may only be me.) But his voice is powerful. And the ranges that guy can throw off the tip of his tongue had me in awe. His voice can go from mellow singing to wide-mouthed howling in an instant. This talent keeps the crowd engaged, and I’m mesmerized by his ability to jump in and out of a cool, smooth alternative rock song to unleash some depth of humanity with a voice that howls, but does not intimidate.
Most heavy metal singers, when I hear their howling, I have often associated with it disgust, a tightening of my body, a turn of the face, or some other kind of physical expression to repel the energy being sent my way. Aaron Lewis is the first singer I stay eyes wide open, relaxed, and almost drawn in like a fly to the light when he sings this way. I promise you, I have never heard anyone else sing like this.
Anyways, this two-hour laidback show last Wednesday did not disappoint. In fact, I was impressed because there were so many chairs lined up. And Aaron Lewis was also sitting down on stage with his guitar, promptly at 8 o’clock. It was like we were all there to sit around a bonfire, eagerly awaiting the next story our camp counselor is tell.
He got deep. He shared about the song leading up to him going to rehab. He spit a line about “bangin’ bitches, I was 20-something” and the crowd is cracking up. It’s somewhat refreshing to hear lingo that isn’t PC be thrown around knowing that he doesn’t mean any harm. It was just a popular phrase, and perhaps the crowd laughed because it reminded us of our youth.
Interesting story about Aaron Lewis – his grandfather was a gold smith. So Aaron, while he loved making music, he trained to be a goldsmith. “I quickly learned I was better at creating than doing the same minutia over and over again.” So his uncle hired him, and after shrinking a woman’s gold bangle in a matter of an instant, he didn’t even know what happened, it just shriveled up, his uncle fired him.
So at his new goldsmith job, he meets the girlfriend of the roommate of the guy who lived with Mike Mushok, the guitarist for Staind. He only got that opportunity because he got fired from his family’s job where he would have been a 3rdgeneration worker. His learning lesson to the crowd was that sometimes things are working out for you, even when they seem like they aren’t.
I mean, the guy is such a bad-ass. The Pavillion as you’re walking into it clearly says No Smoking, and the guy’s on stage nearly chain smoking his menthol Marlboro’s, low key threatening the super drunk woman in the front row. He said there might be a mistake later, as he says, “oopsies” and acts to pretend he’s spilling his drink on what would be her. He also low key insults a guest in the crowd who’s interrupting his goldsmith story. He goes, “I hope your girlfriend smacked you on the back of the head from that one! Actually…you probably don’t have a girlfriend.”
By the end, Aaron Lewis is victorious. He surprises guests with a random rendition of Drive by The Cars. He told the crowd he’s on his third drink, which means shots 10 thru 15. Once I gets to 15 thru 20, then he knows he’s getting into trouble. So he gets up there and starts strumming, “Who’s gonna drive you home, tonight? Who gonna..” And man, it was so beautiful. He goes well that was random. Ah. And that’s the beauty of live music with really good artists.
The reviews walking out of the concert/church/bonfire were positive. I could see and hear people lightened up from his simple, but quality two-hour performance. It’s so refreshing to have Real. In a world of fake, he’s just real. He ended the show by encouraging us all to be Lions. He said the truth is like a lion. Once you set it free from its cage, the truth will defend itself. So be Lions!
I couldn’t relate to that encouragement more. In a world where illusions are honored, let’s fight like Lions for Truth & Freedom. God bless the USA! God bless Florida. God bless our governor. God bless our mayor. God bless our artists. Amen.
January 27, 2022
Reality check 1,2, 1,2
In today’s post, I go into racism.
Today, as a white woman, I experienced racism.
Racism has a textbook definition as being “a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.”
I was chosen as a scapegoat, to take all anger out on, because I’m white. I had a high school friend, someone I’ve known for 15 years and first discovered Space with, commit psychological violence on me, because I’m white. Whenever you use personal details about a person, and weaponize them to make a person feel bad about who he or she is, that’s emotional and psychological warfare. And that was the final straw.
I’m no stranger to abuse, sad to say. But the gift of my experiences is that I can readily identify it. And repeat the advice I’ve been given – that all problems are spiritual problems. And you can’t reason with the devil.
So I removed myself from the situation. I didn’t once return the favor in hurting her because of her race. I didn’t make her feel uncomfortable for who she is. She antagonized me, and was looking for a fight – for three days! Furthermore, I’m grateful for the opportunity to witness my own growth and evolution as a kind, respectful human being.
We can show kindness and respect, without being bullied and abused. Sometimes silence and walking away is the only right answer.
I have finally recovered my good graces and sanity by relocating to a hotel (as we were sharing an AirBnb), but the reality is that Anger exists in the world today.
I had quite a good conversation today with someone about Stoicism. Stoicism is a philosophy that says human life ought to mimic life in nature. In other words, we were all born differently and for different purposes. We can’t all be leaders, and we can’t all be followers. It’s neither wrong to be one or the other. As just as a Tree may want to be a Flower, a Tree just can’t be anything, but a Tree. So let’s appreciate the Tree as it is. Let’s appreciate the Flower as it is. Let’s appreciate others as they are – WITHOUT TRYING TO IMPOSE EQUALITY. Because the truth is, nature is, by physical evidence, not equal. Functions are not equal. It is littered with diversity, and it’s beautiful. THAT’s what makes a dancefloor beautiful.
So the Stoics say, if you’re trying to live a life that is not conforming to the laws of nature, then life will be met with much friction – because it’s unnatural to fight who you are and the role you play in this vast galaxy.
Perhaps too much focus is on our Differences, and that’s what effectively takes the beauty away. If I was trying to look at a colorful forest, and nitpick all the differences between the things in the forest – wouldn’t that take away some of the joy? If I zoomed out and just looked at the vision as a whole, wouldn’t I be less consumed by hostile differences and enjoy the whole? That’s how I’ve been living my life. I grew up AS THE MINORITY in Miami. And my friend knows this, but she picks and chooses what aids her argument.
So when I was attacked today because of my white-ness, I realized that Anger is pervasive and it will manifest in a myriad of ways. Some people choose to be angry at the “system” because their life is hard. Guess what – life is hard for ALOT of people regardless of race. I didn’t get a 100% scholarship to Florida and join a sorority because I was white. I did it because I EARNED the grades. I paid for the sorority MYSELF. I wanted a social life that my parents didn’t give me.
As for my education, my mom took us to a public library growing up, and all people, regardless of race or economic background can access a public library. I have worked really hard for what I have. And it’s not because – I’m white. I dated the son of the richest man in Pennsylvania. He’s white. But that guy didn’t get a college degree, doesn’t hold a steady job. His mom didn’t read to him as a kid I don’t think. THESE are the factors that differentiate people, not race. Lord have mercy. I’m so different from him.
And naturally I’ve been doing a google deep dive because I had never heard of racism against a white person. But I know now what it looks like and feels like. I did read some interesting concepts about “white fragility” and it’s a feasible hypothesis and likelihood this exists. But fragility is different from hostility.
All I’m saying is that tensions are getting tough out there – and dance floors one day may not be a safe place for a diverse crowd.
We don’t have a racism problem, we have an anger problem!
Fight Hate. Fight Anger. It’s not me. Let Jesus heal your heart so you can move on, and live in Peace versus carrying out more Hate.
I’m proud of who I am and how far I’ve come. I embrace diversity. I embrace safety. Stand up for your self-respect and avoid bullies. That is a worthy cause.
August 3, 2021
The heavens open up to shower a celebration on Green Day fans
Were you there on Sunday? See, the fun part about events is that no one can live the life that can only be filled by your shoes. No one can see all the random, beautiful, ugly that you see or do. That is just for you. But. When it comes to a show. That is a moment we can all share.
And something about getting soaked in the rain, refusing shelter, adds to the glory that is a rock-and-roll moment.
Last night, was like a link conjoining what is the beginning of my musical experience timeline. I was a newborn on the lawn of what used to be call the Coral Sky Amphitheater in West Palm Beach, FL. I was thirteen years old, wearing a Gap tank top and Old Navy bottoms. I had no cell phone. I’m not even sure I had money. I hitched a ride with four dudes from my Broadcast magnet class, all skater boys, with one dad driving the mini-van. I didn’t tell my parents I was going. I was “sleeping over at a friend’s,” which I would.
That night changed me. I had no idea who Green Day even was. The following weeks, months, and years, I would listen to their album, “International Superhits,” memorizing all the lyrics. No longer a newborn, but a full-fledge adult, I was FINALLY belting out the lyrics with them live. Why has it been 19 years since I’ve seen them? I couldn’t tell you. Probably the house-head-dom of Miami drowned out the voices of the skater boys, and I swapped bands for DJs. But you know what I realized after last night? You can’t take the Rock out of the Rock girl.
I was dancing ska – moves I have NEVER before in my life pulled out. It all flowed out organically, musically. I was bopping up and down the aisle and no stadium seating could stop me. I’m not sure what my date thought, but that’s the joy of a good date – you just enjoy the experience while being yourself, and you feel accepted as-is. No acts. No shaming. No expectations except mutual respect and honesty. It was a great date, if you can even call it that. I feel like I just climbed Mt. Everest.
I took my shirt off to put on a tour shirt that he bought me. I soaked that one, too. It was so hot. Sweat was running down my legs from my forest green corduroy mini-skirt to my black converse chucks. I asked him, “Do you mind if I take my shirt off?” And he shakes his head no, offering the explanation, “It’s hot out here!” So I join him shirtless in my black sparkly bra. And i’m rocking and rolling just like the women I first witnessed 19 years ago – when bands like Green Day and Blink 182 could corral women in the crowd to take off their shirts. (Something that would not fly in today’s world.) So I did it voluntarily. And there we were, a shirtless couple making a dash to the front stadium seats to get cooled off by the oncoming rain.
It just so happens that as the rain started, Green Day performed “Wake Me up When September Ends.” A magical moment suspended in time. The lyrics go like this:
“Here comes the rain again
Falling from the stars
Drenched in my pain again
Becoming who we are
As my memory rests
But never forgets what I lost
Wake me up when September ends
Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
Wake me up when September ends”
And we got those stanzas twice. It was utterly the coolest rock show I have ever been to in my life. Not that I have been to a ton, but this has to be the definition of what legendary rock shows are made of.
And there I was, making out in the rain with my hot date, us both shirtless, to my favorite band. I’m not sure to what song. But I remember the bliss. We have only kissed up until this point, so the air of innocence and purity and love and joy and rage too, because we’re at a show! All that came up, and again wove write into the fabric of what this show meant for me.
I walked out of that stadium wringing the water from my two French braid pigtails, still in bra, with nothing dry to wear, walking hand-in-hand with my date through a massive exodus. Smiling to the heavens. Luckily the rain had stopped at this point.
It was surprising Green Day didn’t do the tease of coming off and then on again, as is so customary with live music shows. They chose to be different, a one and done type of deal. I suppose there was no way to top the performance as it stood. Not from my angle. As a fine artist knows when his workmanship is complete, so did they.
I got home, saw my thick black eyeliner had smudged it’s way to my cheeks. The markings of a night in reckless abandon, in praise to rock idols. We came and they conquered. It’s now Tuesday and my head and heart are still on cloud 9. Sufficiently bruised up and still tired as the emotions have been riding high since that night, I write to pay homage to that evening. A metamorphosis of sorts took place for me. So much has happened in my life since I was 13 years old. But I’m still that girl. And as Life would have it, I’ve seen the immensity of both beauty and pain. And I had no idea what that would entail. But I made it. I’m here. And so are they. And that’s the beauty of a musical journey in life. We get cut up, bruised up, soaked, thirsty, hot. But then, there’s this bliss. This simple transcendence of harmony. As if everything is right in the world.
That’s what occurred Sunday night. We got that taste of transcendence as if God alone could only make that moment happen for us.
I’m a firm believer that there is a Guiding Hand. And I’m so happy He watched over us that night. That’s one for the books, if there ever was.
And I haven’t even mentioned Weezer or Fall Out Boy who opened for them, who deserve praise in their own right. But this post is about my journey with Green Day. And how I get to share music with you all today with them as the finite kicking-off point.
Thanks for joining me on this ride.
June 24, 2021
Cancel culture, cancel music
Cancel culture is wrong. What is the point? Let’s look at the upside and downside.
Upside: There is no reminder of past grievances, so a person may feel more at ease and content in the present moment, being free of the negative connotation of said person or time in history.
Downside: There is no reminder of past grievances, so a person can repeat the grievance, perpetually, until we have a perpetual reminder.
Like Sarah Bond, a lecturer in history at UNC at Chapel Hill, says in a 2011 New York Times article, “Erasing the crimes of the past doesn’t help us avoid them in the future.”
In fact, one may argue that erasing crimes of the past only encourages them to occur in the future. So how naïve and selfish is the cancel culture movement? Are you naïve enough to believe that removing someone’s name or statue will rectify wrongs? Are you selfish enough to realize that you are sacrificing the health of future generations by removing reminders of dark times just so that you feel better?
There is a beautiful podcast, which I can’t remember now, but the author talked about going into dark places and sitting with them. He showed his teenage daughter Auschwitz. He explained that although it was difficult for her, later she would remark as an older person that she was grateful for the experience. It fostered emotional depth in her and added to her emotional maturity. It allowed for transparency on the spectrum of human emotions and the capabilities of others to do wrong. Should we cancel Auschwitz because something bad happened? Should we cancel Adam and Eve because they were wrong? We need dark places, dark reminders, just as we do the light.
And if we start canceling history, which we already have in the University of Miami cancelling culture left to right on its campus, where does it end? What is to stop the momentum of erasing everything that feels uncomfortable? This is highly terrifying, and should be for any who cares about the future generations. What oppression will arise because adults foolishly behaved like children in our day and time? I do not want my place in history with millennials being associated with a generation who could not and would not think for themselves along with the future implications of their actions.
For those that do not know, UM is removing George Merrick’s name from campus. You know Merrick Park? Yes, same guy. He founded the University, and people have effectively ruled to remove his presence. Criminy.
At least the City of Coral Gables has some sense. Their statement:
“Coral Gables founder George Merrick was an urban planning visionary who understood the importance an institution of higher learning would play in developing a world-class community. To make this a reality he donated 160 acres of land and pledged $4 million to build a great university. While like most people he was not perfect, his memory and presence is still very important in and to Coral Gables.”
It is important to understand how this came to pass. Evan Kissner, a 2006 UM graduate, started the petition with the University to remove him. A guy who lives in California effectively made changes in Miami! And that’s fine to have a voice, but why 5,000+ people would follow someone who’s not even a current member of our community or society is beyond me. This isn’t his only petition either, he’s also petitioning to cancel A-Rod from being associated with the University of Miami.
How pompous is this guy to want to make his alma mater free from iniquities? How selfish is he to want to change a community, he’s not even a part of anymore. This is not about catering to a new-world. This is about increasing fear in action. The act of cancelling establishes fear amongst us all. What is acceptable? Will I get cancelled? As Ms. Bond writes, “Romans saw [removal from history] as a punishment worse than execution: the fate of being forgotten.”
What is more terrifying than death? Being forgotten. How do we ensure we’re not removed, and thus forgotten? Be ever so cautious. Don’t ruffle features. Just fit in. You may not be remembered, but at least you won’t be removed.
And I’m not biased here with the University of Miami. I feel the same way about my own alma mater, the University of Florida, removing a chant song from games.
At some point, ambivalence has to come to an end. There is an enemy. And that enemy is silence and groupthink. And the people that lead such movements, like Evan Kissner, who is nearly 3,000 miles away from us, who likely passed the petition by corralling a cohort of emotional, zygotic Generational Z students currently enrolled at UM, are the people we must stand up against. Who will lead Gen Z properly?
Thankfully, there are people like me who understand the implications of such actions. And not all Gen Z thinks along Mr. Kissner’s lines. Amanda Rose, a University of Miami law student and member of the Historic Preservation Association of Coral Gables, created a petition to reverse the recent actions by the University of Miami.
So who do you agree with? How will you act? To do nothing is to admit defeat to the oppressor. And in the end, we will be forced to choose a side. Think about your favorite song being cancelled. Are we going to cancel Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” because it’s symbolic for lynching? No? Why, because she’s black? Who makes up these rules?
And this is what I’m talking about.
If you agree with me, you will sign Ms. Rose’s petition and stop the cancel culture momentum in any way we can.
Remember to use logic versus emotion in these circumstances. We must use our brains for the future that is to come.
June 22, 2021
The Exodus from Pandemic on the First Day of Summer
It was my first time walking into Club Space since pandemic obliterated our very spoiled social lives. I was fresh, having had a Red Bull on the drive over. It was time to reintroduce myself.
It felt strange and off-kilter, walking in at 8pm on a Sunday, with it not being music week or Art Basel. The greet was the same. ID check. List check. Bag check. Ticket check – and away I went.
There were not a lot of people, but enough to fill out the dance floor. Satori was to play that night. And as to be expected, the first thing I did was take a lap.
The decor is different. Sofas litter the venue, and the Gardens of Babylon hang from the ceiling. It didn’t take me long to notice that all the stages for dancing had been demolished and reconstructed. That long center stage where sexy ladies have danced for a millennia it feels like has been split into two smaller dance platforms.
This is not the same club I first entered. Nor will it be the same club as it is today, years from now. The most obvious sign of change is that men are allowed to dance on the stages with the women. This must have something to do with equal rights liberation he/me/she/whatever. My comment is that women should have a safe place to dance, and that has always been the stage, keeping the men who do not understand, “No,” away. If I have anything to say about it, separation should still be encouraged.
I’m a fan of etiquette. Bring on change, sure, but some things are in place for tactful reasons.I did enjoy dancing next to this one guy, C. He had a big fan that claps when you flick it closed. We were both wearing sunglasses at night. Perhaps a sign of like-meets-like. But that kind of interaction can be left on the floor. The stage at Space is meant for ladies. So step down guys and let women shine in the limelight. And ladies, if you want to dance with your male genus friends, step down and do it on the floor. You are being quite selfish to those needing safe-haven.
The thing about being there solo, is that I really get to tune in (or tune out) without the noise of other people drowning out my thoughts or my observations. I also get to (or am forced to) meet so many more people as a lone rider.
Let’s talk about the huge role fate has to play, daily in our lives, although we tend to acknowledge Acts of God more-so in our nights out. So I saw my ex-fiancé for the first time since parting ways. And fate would have it that I’m getting a welcomed lap dance from a strange, sexy Brazilian as he’s walking by.
No matter. The irony is that in the year I spent with long-time Space resident DJ Ivano Bellini, we never once went to Space as a couple. To recap, Ivano and I got reconnected through this blog when I interviewed him in 2019. Gnarly to think at 21 yr old I’m dancing my ass off at Space’s 10th anniversary to his set, only to be engaged to him on Space’s 20th. It was a simple match of DJ meets fan and vice versa. It was part-fantasy, at least for as much as my part is to play. And it worked until it didn’t.
I pondered whether I should say hi. I knew I would have to be the one to approach, post lap-dance. So on my exit out, I said my hello, and it was a kind exchange. Short, sweet. Life keeps going. So we go from the year 2010 to the year 2021, and he’s now my ex-fiancé. And in some ways, I’m still that 18 year old girl discovering Space for the first time. And then I look around and see not only has this place changed, but so have I.
I’m not embarrassed of who I am. I don’t hide behind house music. I acknowledge my proclivity towards love and fantasy (throwback to Serge Devant’s Addicted to Love) and I see how beautiful it is to grow within an environment that has also evolved, while also sticking true to its guns, where ends meet. (I.e. house music self-abandoning, where we can just erase 2015-2017)
Point being, many of us self-abandon, but thankfully I’m one of the ones who has made it back, Alchemist-style. And I look at the 18 year old girls on the stage Sunday night, stammering that at one point in time, that was me, with my girlfriends – and my whole world ahead of me (and my miami music?)
Well, life sure gets weird. From then until now, it’s been a ball. A crawl. Slightly terrifying. Slightly knowing I’ve had some top experiences that most will not.
I’m just thankful to still be doing this, health intact, meeting some of the kindest strangers you may ever come across. The vibrational energy was high Sunday night.
Kimonos did a very good job building their set with the crowd. The music hit like a heatwave. And the people that intrigued me the most, were mainly recent transplants. Fresh locals, bringing their energy from wherever. And multiple times when I asked, “Why is it you moved here?” The answer came back unanimous – the energy of Miami.
Am I part of this? I can’t help to think that I am. That my life, however big or small, has played a part in this momentum. You know the number of people “doing this” longer than I have? I get why. It’s a home away from home. A home where you are accepted, where you earn respect, and most importantly, where you are encouraged to love and express yourself. No judgments given. And if they are, they’re for fun and jokes. Who wouldn’t want to call a place like that home?
I noticed the newness of Miami that’s going to abound in this new era. I’m thankful for the transplants. I’m thankful for the youth. We needed some fresh blood. Looking forward to the next chapter that’s to be written.
May 25, 2021
It was a terrible weekend in the name of house music and energy.
With all the hype surrounding the arrival of Ricardo Villalobos spinning in Miami, publicity was setting up this weekend to be a grand follow-up to iii points weekend.
Unfortunately, it was an ugly turnout. Not on part of the DJs, as the talent delivered, but ugly on part of the patrons. I could not believe it was the same city that so joyously partook in this ethereal, suspended time-and-space event three weeks ago.
Well, on account of Ricardo Villalobos at Space Park Friday – let’s just say I went in with rainbows and butterflies, finally able to see him after missing him at the infamous MMW 20th Anniversary Cocoon party at Trade in 2019. And it went from starry eyed wonder to a deer-in-headlight look that had me shook by night’s end.
You might say, “Well, it’s techno,” or, “The crowd is known for being weird for Ricardo.” No, no, no. It was perhaps the ‘scariest’ crowd I’ve seen since Space 00’s days. In fact, I’m pretty sure I recognized a couple faces from those days. Feelings/memories I’d rather forget. It’s as if the crowd came out of the deepest, darkest recesses of Miami for this event, to say, we’re not gone yet.
Not to say everyone met this criteria. I met a fellow music blogger, her friends, and a former music event partner. But the good energy people were few and far between. And as the sun set, it seemed we all were drawn out of the crowd to find shelter towards the back.
It got to a point where I was physically repelled by energy to enter the center again. Stepping on the grass was like crossing over the Berlin Wall. I could not ethically do that to my body/temple/Self. It was as if an energy wall had been built in a matter of hours. On the outskirts, I was confirming my intuition. I started first by asking the girl in the bathroom line and she laughed. She didn’t want to admit it immediately, but after some coaxing her for an opinion, she nodded her head, saying, “Yes, it’s weird crowd.” Then I met a couple sitting on the sofa under the tent, and they confirmed, that they too were having to stay back from the middle. Then, all the way in the back, I saw the group of eight guys on a bachelor party weekend, who I met upon first entering. They were also needing reprieve.
By 9p, two hours of Ricardo, I was texting my friend to possibly pick me up – as I kept close to the group of eight. The energy was that bad. And at least with them, I felt some safety. In my 16 years of clubbing and music events, this night qualifies as Top 3 bad energy events.
My friend who picked me up was asking what the crowd was like – and I described them as heavy, almost zombie-like, lifeless. And she said it sounded like they were all on Ketamine. I thought it was more so a Heroin effect. I know Molly is going for $200/gram nowadays, if you can even find it. Only the darkness will know what went on that evening.
I came home, cleansed that energy off me best I could, and woke up knowing I had Boris Brejcha that evening. I did not want to go. But like falling off a bicycle, sometimes you get back on and try again – especially if you’ve already purchased tickets.
Well, this time I went with friends, so I felt strength in numbers walking back into that place. And I could almost immediately tell, it was going to be a better night. The crowd did not have that crude heaviness about them.
However, although being a younger demographic for Boris – the energy again was not there. In fact, a group of people would come up to friends and me as we were dancing, and leave us feeling drained, so much so, we had to sit down. This is what is known as Energy Vampires, people. They cannot internally generate power to support a beaming aura, so they take the happiness and energetic fire of others. I didn’t even realize it until a friend pointed it out. Later on in the evening, we would shun them energetically, turn our backs, not engage in conversation – and we would be able to continue dancing in our own right – although sometimes not easy to fully enjoy if such usurpers are standing in aura, which extends 6 ft beyond you. (Is it a coincidence this is also pandemic measure of influence?)
And I will illustrate the difference in what is instead constructive interaction, the interaction we look for when we pay for a house music event. Later in the evening, when the vampires finally left us, I saw a young female, by herself – just trying to enjoy herself. Mind you a lot of the crowd was not invested in the music. Too much talking. Not enough dancing. Barely legal kids at VIP tables, too nervous to show authentic expression, or know anything about anything. I KNOW this about the crowd, because Boris threw down his newest track, “Spicy,” which is a fire track – and it seemed like I was the only one who lost their marbles while dancing. Wow. That was so good. And I can glow thinking on that. It’s just unfortunate that the majority of attendees did not plug in like that. Or at least the attendees that I was close enough to witness.
Back to my point, the girl. She had these big black sunglasses on, tinted so dark I couldn’t see her eyes. She wore all black. Height 5’2. Hair in pigtails. And when I thought hope might be lost for all, especially the younger generation, she and I had our moment. I stood about 2 feet from her, chucked a smile her way – maybe she would see it, maybe not if her eyes were closed – but she smiled softly back – and I knew she saw me. We acknowledged each other’s presence and joy. And I turned my head back towards the DJ, knowing with amplified energy now that one other person was appreciating this as much as I was. We were now sharing and building something bigger than either of us alone. This is etiquette. This is called being in the music.
It’s not for show. I didn’t go up to her to start talking incessantly. I didn’t throw my hands in her face to get her attention. How crude and vulgar it is for a being to mess with others’ auras that way. It’s not pleasant or cute – especially if you’re a 40-something-year-old doing it.
Energy exchange is an art. We bring the best of ourselves and share it with those worthy of it. That moment with that girl, is what house music is about. No words needed.
So the spirits soaring on Virginia Key and Damian Lazarus at Space Park three weeks ago, seemed to be pummeled over by a certain darkness, lameness, lifelessness this past weekend. A dull beating that made my energy contract, not expand.
There were some shimmers of light – as mentioned by some essential interactions I had – but generally speaking, the bad outweighed the good.
I was happy to sell my Ricardo ticket for Sunday at Space, and instead spent the day at the beach with my best friend. Sometimes, all you need is that quality time with people who build you up, not tear you down.
Word to the wise: Protect your energy. And if you choose to be on the dance floor, be highly selective, Miamians. We are living in different times.
iii points secret weekend energy has already escaped us.
May 3, 2021
iii points shines a light
How to describe the weekend at large? It was a weekend of liberation, of soul nourishment. The beach breeze seemed to cast a charm on the onlookers. And in its charm was clarity. Clarity on artistic, humanly expression – something that’s been void in Miami for the past 15 months.
The reckless abandon, the kindness on people’s faces, the deep appreciation for what we were all there to experience. It was where peace was meeting welcomed chaos. Nature contributed with its sand, wind, ocean, dust, dirt, rocks, trees. Humans contributed with their spirit, music, food, drinks, expressions, security, cleanliness. Technology contributed with its lights, sound, moving displays (shoutout to the massive disco ball that moved!). It was beautiful.
And I know the word magical is overused, but this quite frankly, was a magical time in Miami, and it will not be repeated – just because of the sophisticated layout, reduced capacity, freshness of people on the scene, and the authentic love. I mean, the whole weekend was filled with so much true spirit and love – more so than I’ve seen in quite some time at music festivals.
It’s as if locals and out-of-towners were humbled by recent history, and showed up with genuine earnestness. With a lot of egos left at home, many of us with very low expectations, willing, hoping for any taste of the musical life we once knew and shared, we were brought back to life with the vibrancy that a weekend like this provided. I think most of us were willing to take anything, and this was a well-executed, never-before event weekend on Virginia Key.
There was connection. I spoke with so many people. They’re all pretty special because my weekend would not be the same without them.
But let’s get into the music. Here are some highlights, based on my opinion, which also considers the opinions of those I spoke with. Take what you want and leave the rest!
- Green Velvet – MVP – wow. I’ve seen him before at Space which was a b2b set with Carola? I wasn’t impressed. But this set. This set was a shirtless, booty-shaking, threesome-making, set your spirit free kind of experience. I made friends in this set at the guardrail. It is simply one of those sets, you cannot properly into words. Afterwards in the parking lot, an old friend was blasting what happened to be Green Velvet b2b w Carl Cox on SoundCloud. I definitely recommend finding that set if you want a taste of what these two hours brought out in people.
- Michael Bibi – comes in close second as he opened up for Green Velvet. This was a banger, where the crowd just went nuts from the very beginning. I’ve seen Bibi before at a Epic hotel pool party during MMW in 2019, and his set was just okay. So again, this was a very welcomed surprise. The bartender (front left) told me, “I’m going to jizz my pants so hard when he comes on!” And LOL I saw her 5 minutes after the start and she was losing it, hugging her bartender friend. This brought laughing and smiles to my face. We’re here to be happy, joyous, and free. I got confirmation from others and got the most reactions on IG from the Bibi clip I posted; as some telltale signs, this guy rocked it.
- Thunderpony – this guy gets bronze, because he’s a local who brought the heat to the stage Friday Day 1, setting up for Luciano at sunset. We expect the best from the big names, but when a local, rising star makes headway like that, recognition needs to be given where recognition is due. He is definitely one to watch out for. I really enjoyed when he dropped a remix of, “Deep End” by Foushee. That was a fun way to get the crowd hyped up.
- Gerd Janson – I saw just 10-15 minutes of the closing of his set and wow. He might of made it into my top 3 had I seen his set versus Green Velvet. He is definitely on my radar of DJs to catch next.
- Luciano – Gorgeous sunset set. I was guardrail and would make friends that I would again see same time, same place on Saturday. It was fun. Not in my ranking since I’ve seen him spin a 8 hour poolside set at Ushuaia in Ibiza back in 2012, and that will always be held as a dear memory in my heart.
- Eric Prydz – Oh PRYDZ. This was also a special set for me. Closing out the festival with my new guardrail friends. I really just let go, and had a different kind of experience. Not in my ranking for similar reason above. Seeing Prydz at Ultra’s 20th anniversary in 2018 will stand out as a most spectacular set, with the 3-D imaging display, acoustics, set layout, space to dance near the front of the Carl Cox tent. I feel like Prydz toned it down as some point before his set ended at iii points Saturday night. It didn’t have a legendary finish, but again, it’s Prydz. And he can do what he like – and we’ll probably like it anyways.
- Dixon – I saw a very good video and have historically heard very good things about him. He’s on my radar.
- Trikk – Another one I did not see, but heard good things. On radar.
- Danyelino – I do not know why this guy does not get more recognition. I have been seeing him spin at Space Techno Loft since 2009?? I mean, the guy was dropping music that other artists do not set up the beat for. There is something special about this guy. He was playing b2b with Brother Dan. But the real gems I think that came out were from Danyelino. Can you PLEASE put this guy on your radar?! Lol Would love to see him get more recognition and appreciation.
Alright, that about does it for the iii points Monday wrap-up. There’s more to say on last night’s Lazarus soirée at Space Park, the official closing party for the iii points/secret project festival. More on that later.
May 3, 2021
What a weekend. We had Loco Dice this past Saturday poolside at Goodtimes, the new Vegas-style hotel on South Beach owned by Dave Grutman, owner of LIV, STORY, etc. Loco also played nighttime at Floyd. Maceo Plex spun a marathon at Space. Cocodrills played Sunday night at Lucky. It seems like things are shaking up around here, without a mask in sight, especially since curfew was lifted a couple weeks ago.
This means, Miami is making a comeback.
And I for one, am not complaining. With most of the country still on some variation of lockdown, it’s about time people rediscovered their souls via dancing, grooving, communicating, jiving, powwowing, whatever you want to call it. Skiing. Yes, the party has picked up almost without missing a beat.
And in attending the Goodtimes pool party, it seems like party-goers are still fish-out-of-water. Not that people are shy with their personal space, but imagine a whole bunch of 18-year-olds going to a college party, with their eyes in a starry-eyed surprise. That’s kind of the vibe that was going on at Goodtimes. Maybe because it’s a new venue. Maybe because it’s post-pandemic. Maybe because people are post-shock. Maybe a combination. Either way, the best way to explain the party was awkward. Awkward in a good way. Awkward in the sense that it’s new, it’s fresh. The music wasn’t crazy good, but it was good. (As we know, the DJ vibes off the crowd and vice-versa…so not the magical combination for this Saturday afternoon.) But it looked good. And surely this venue will take on its own essence. With a Vegas style pool setup, it’s bound to bring in some big names.
It’s the only party I got to witness first-hand, but I gotta say. I’m welcoming the change that’s in the air. Looking forward to letting the good times roll.
April 26, 2021
What is Life?
Here we go. 13 months of pandemic. What are we doing? Do our legs even know how to still dance?
I went to Lucky on Friday, April 2nd, and that place was swarming with people standing inches from each other with no masks. And let me tell you. I’m not sure if it was Lazaro or Oscar G, but “Set you Free” by Guz had me dancing like I was a sexually pulsating bandit released from captivity. It was so liberating. It took 13 months to feel that sexiness and vivaciousness in myself, brought out by music and the scene. (It was my second time out dancing in a year – the first being the Oscar G drive-in in September.)
I love dancing so much. I think I will be one of those old people at 80 still rocking high-tops and getting my vibe on at the local underground club. Music is a fountain of youth. Drink from it, and may you never age a day past your 20s. Music unites us all. I’m so thankful for it. How much has it helped us through this time of abnormal living? The existence of music in my life, albeit experienced in different forms from normal times, kept something in my life consistent. When the world seemed to be towering over with ashes, suffocating us from a COVID volcano explosion, my Spotify, Apple Music, TWITCH TV, vinyl records were all there to soothe me. Cajole me. Comfort me. Accompany me. I could connect to music even if I could not connect to another human in person.
Music has brought no greater joy, except that of possible love. And maybe music is a conduit to love, which is why we treasure it all that much.
Looking forward to summer 2021 to see what all unfolds.
May 29, 2019
Summer 2019 is shaping up
In what was a deadbeat summer last year, I mean extremely deadbeat, so much so I was scared for house music in Miami, this summer seems to be taking on a whole new persona – one full of life and activity that will guide us through the long days ahead.
One telltale is the line-up for Memorial Day weekend. Usually, this is a silent weekend in dance. Hip-hop comes to town and rules the city for three days, and then we get our dance events back…or at least that’s historically how it’s been.
Well, investors and party planners have stopped this trend. In fact, there seems to be some intense competition for dance-heads that will go all summer long. Why the competition all has to be on Sunday? I don’t know, but start roll-call, organized by start time, and starting with the most obvious:
Space 12a – Best club in the world. Ok, rightfully so. Since the year 2000, we have been waiting for the sunrise, dancing ’til morning comes. So 19 years later, which is quite a feat in longevity, Space still gets some of the largest names in house music to spin. However, a magic tends to be lost when there’s smartphones in your face, and you’re trying to be incognito behind your sunglasses. On the plus side, it’s summer and it’s the best time to be there because it has the highest concentration of locals that you will see all-year round. It’s air-conditioned. You can eat proper food and stay hydrated with exotic juices now, too. Cons: sometimes it is way too smoky/not properly ventilated, the bathrooms haven’t been renovated in 20 years (unbelievable when they charge the prices they do), and it can be somewhat overhyped and overcrowded and not with the right kind of people.
BT’s on the River 4a – Yes, this is a strip-club, but hear me out. The owners of Booby Trap are doing so well, they are attempting to compete with Space. There’s not a lot of people on the scene that have the capability to do this, the funds, and the will to make it happen. Hence, BT’s Patio on the River…it is a separate vibe from the open-format debacle happening indoors. The patio has its own sound system, bar, and DJ. Actually, it’s the DJ that first started Club Space in the first place. Ivano Bellini 20 years later is still a master on the decks and may be the only one who can convert this patio into the next it-spot. The patio is outdoors, large, on the river, palm trees in view. Sunshine on the face makes it reminiscent of the old Space days. I even got that nauseous/butterfly feeling walking in, since you don’t really know what’s going to happen. 24/7 food and drinks. And the cherry on top, free. Cons: It’s summer, and there’s little to no fans. To use bathrooms, must go inside which can kill your house music vibe. It’s a new party so promotions need to get people here. Also, strippers will be in the general population, which can a pro or a con, whichever way you view it.
Clevelander Rooftop 12p – These guys want to bring house music back to the beach. They will be taking a break Memorial Day weekend festivities, but every other Sunday you can expect to have South beach, ocean views while vibing to house music. It’s a unique location and I’m thrilled to have it be a weekly installment by the Housecats label, including Ricky D and crew. Cons: Not enough shade/umbrellas. Entry getting upstairs can be a bit cumbersome with hotel staff (if they can get that streamlined). Also, being on Ocean Dr. can make getting there a creative pursuit. But the party is worth the commute, and it goes ‘til midnight.
Relic at Factory Patio 4p – These guys are the newest group to compete for Sunday action. What was previously a Saturday night gig, the label, headed by Fiin, has re-situated itself for the long haul on Sundays, which are advertised to go until 5a Monday. To pop off their new schedule, headliner Hot since 82 is doing an open-air event this MDW. This is a new party and a new part of Factory that they are utilizing, so reviews are TBD. I like Factory as a whole (former Space owner Louie Puig is co-owner) so odds are this dance series will do well.
Barter Wynwood 5p – What a move. Roger Sanchez takes his Under the Radr label parties to Barter. They celebrated their 1-year anniversary at Lucky this past Music Conference, but the deterioration in treatment by 1-800-Lucky ultimately led to Roger saying, “Bye!” So Barter becomes the new Lucky. I love the Under the Radr line-ups. From Cocodrills to Kristen Knight, they seem to have the most renowned local talent. Adequate shade, food, 2 bars, their own parking lot. Plenty of room to dance. Cons: The space is large. It will take numbers to fill the venue with the right vibe, and this will be a challenge as Barter is a bit off the Golden Path of 23rd/24th St in Wynwood. However, this is Roger Sanchez’s label and I’m pretty sure the music will convert the masses to the new location. Party goes ‘til 3a Mondays.
Mokai 11p – Yes, this club is still in business, and I may be as shocked as you. (Anybody remember the days of hopping back and forth from Gansevoort/Louis to here?) Well, they are bringing house music back to the beach Sunday nights. And it may well turn into a verifiable option once the Clevelander shuts down at midnight. I have not yet checked this out, so reviews are TBD.
That being said, Sundays are meant for rock-stars. And on no counts does it look like Miami will have a dull summer. See you out there!
May 9, 2019
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 – lost due to technical difficulties) 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.
February 21, 2019
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!
February 14, 2019
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 and 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!
February 3, 2019
More Q&A with the one and only Ivano Bellini
Continued from an exclusive interview (lost due to tech difficulties)..
Q. One of my favorite memories of you is at Club Space’s 10th anniversary in 2010. (Dennis Ferrer’s “Hey Hey” will forever remind me of that morning.) Here we are almost a decade later. What is one of your favorite memories performing in Miami? How does it compare to experiences elsewhere?
A. I remember that 10-year anniversary party and I remember the track that I played, “Hey Hey”. Actually it was a mash-up. I worked really hard for that party. I put in tons of hours making mash-ups for 3 weeks to a month beforehand. What I did was take a lot of the classic Space songs and mixed them with older classics, like “Hey Hey”, which I remixed with Depeche Mode’s “Lose Myself.” I worked with “Finally” and “Rapture”, and “Wonderland.” It was 15-18 songs that I mashed up with songs from that moment. It took me a long time. It was fun. It was fun because I could play the song, but it would sound re-modernized with the melody that people love. That 10-year anniversary party was really great. I can remember that. And playing those songs were awesome.
Miami has been incredible. There’s been up and downs. You can say Miami isn’t what it used to be, that the club scene was different. You could say it was pure, not innocent, but more local. Everybody knew each other at a point. When Space started, the original Space, everyone in that place knew each other. It was a small place, but the vibe was just incredible.
Miami is a special place. Was a special place. Is still a special place. Even though playing in other places is fantastic. (Europe, Ibiza, Italy, Turkey, South America, Colombia) But Miami…I’ve been lucky to have lived in Miami 28 years. And I’ve been able to play in some really cool places.
The first three years of the Club Space terrace are special and priceless. Nobody can ever take that away from us. If you were there at that time, it is something you will never forget for the rest of your life. It was a really special place that will never be copied or duplicated.
Q. Almost 20 years ago, Danny Teneglia invited you to be a part of his, “Be Yourself @ Vinyl” parties in New York. Teneglia is coming back to Miami this weekend. Do connections like those made 20 years ago last in this industry? And if so, how do you show each other support while also being competitive?
Tenaglia was the most influential DJ probably in my career. Not just for the music, but more so in the way that he built sets. After I heard him play, which was the first time he played at Space during Music Conference, a 12-hour set, just a few weeks after Space first opened…it completely made me re-think the way I approached my sets as far as how you build the vibe and how you take people on a journey. It was amazing. I’ve been lucky enough over the years where we’ve played. I met him at Space. We ended up playing a few times together. He invited me to come play at his parties in New York, which were always fantastic. He’s a great guy. He’s as talented as probably no-one else. So yeah, we became friends. We’re still in contact. I just texted him today. I am going to see him tonight at the Pickle, of course. If I’m around and I’m not playing, and he’s playing, I always make a point to go see him, go listen to his music, say, “Hi.” We live in different cities, but we talk from here or there. Mostly that is the way it is. At least with me. There’s a whole bunch of DJs that I’ve met over the years, some that I met 25 years ago. And I’m still in contact with. We’re friends. We hang out when we’re in the same town. If they’re in my town, and they play, I go see them. If I’m in their town and playing, they come see me. Yeah, I know in some places, in some instances, there’s competition, but it’s never been my case. I don’t want to steal or get a job from someone else. I think there’s plenty of clubs and plenty of talent to go around. If someone wants you to play his party, then you play it. If he wants someone else, then someone else plays. That is how I’ve approached this job from the get-go. I’ve been lucky enough in all these years to meet people who share the same passion and the same job. We’re in the same industry, and we hang out. We’re friends, and it’s cool.
Q. If there’s one thing you would like to see evolve in 2019 in Miami’s music scene or maybe in music in general, what would it be?
I don’t know. I think we need a refresh. It’s been a lot of the same clubs and a lot of the same music playing in Miami for a few years now. So it would be good to have a bunch of new clubs with new concepts and ideas. Not, we take the same people and we do it over again in another location. Just some fresh, groundbreaking thing. It doesn’t have to be big and huge and splashy. But really cool places where you can go and listen to music in a different kind of setting, a different kind of vibe, a different kind of sound. Bring DJs we haven’t brought before. Styles that we haven’t really heard about. I think that would be fantastic. We’ll still have the same clubs, the clubs that we know and love, or that we know and don’t love. Because you can’t love everything.
It would be cool to have a new breed, some new blood, some new parties. It’s the same for music conference. If you look at the line-up, it’s a little bit of the same. There’s some really cool parties, but there’s a lot of stuff that’s been going on and on for years. I love when the music scene gets creative with new concepts.
Q. How did you ring in the new year? Do you have any new year’s resolutions that you’re sticking to?
It was a long weekend because I played on Saturday and then I had two gigs on Sunday, which was the day before New Year’s Eve. I did like a 9-hour stretch where I had 5 minutes in-between. I had one gig where I played 5 hours and then I had to run to 1-800-Lucky which was a block away, where I played for another four hours. It was great. I had some friends from Italy from 13 years ago that were there. That Sunday was insane.
I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s. A lot of people who go out on New Year’s only go out once or twice a year. But you know it’s a part of what we do. So I played New Year’s and then I crashed for 3 days, where I didn’t do anything and that was fantastic.
My new year’s resolution is to get better at playing the piano. I’ve been producing tracks and mixing, but I’ve never learned how to play piano. I can play a couple chords here and there, but I decided this year to spend some time at home with tutorials to teach myself piano. This is something brand new, but I can put a couple songs together now with chords and chord progression. It’s been a long time dream of mine and regret of mine that I didn’t learn sooner. Not that I want to be a virtuoso, but I’ve always wanted to be able to put a couple songs together, sit at a piano, and play a few chords. So I’ve been getting into it.
Q. Lastly, what is your favorite thing to eat or drink at 1-800-Lucky, and why?
A. I love the food over there. I love the Asian ice cream. It’s probably not too good for your health, but I’m only there 2-3 times a month, so I can do it.
I’m not a huge drinker. I have one drink, maybe two. But my drink is the same drink everywhere. If they have it, it’s Zacapa, which is a rum from Guatemala. That’s been my drink of choice for the past few years. So when I’m at Lucky, and I want to have a nice drink, that’s what I’m having. A nice Zacapa, one big ice cube – life is good. Cheers to everybody!
—-Ivano Bellini is playing twice tomorrow and I highly recommend you see either one of his sets. You can catch him at a SuperBowl Brunch pre-party at No. 3 social, or you can see him opening up the evening at 1-800-Lucky. If you didn’t know, now you know! Cheers
January 30, 2019
Maceo Plex version 2019
My first time witnessing Maceo Plex was in London at SW4 2015. It was Solomun, then Dubfire, then Maceo Plex. I could not leave that tent.
I was with my best friend, another Space cadet I had met six years prior. After dancing hard to Solomun, we stayed in the tent because the feeling was too good. We didn’t even know who the DJ was for the next two hours. (Usually a name flashes somewhere.) And at the end of the flashing white board set, Dubfire was revealed. It was his Hybrid showcase. I was in awe, no doubt gripping the sides of my head, running my fingers through my hair, mouth gaping open, saying, “Wow.” Then the side boards light up again with graphics you expect to see. They say, “Maceo Plex.” And although I can’t remember the specifics of the set, I know my best friend and I stayed when a lot of people left. Some might have taken that as a cue to leave too, but for us, we spread out and we weren’t moving. Located front left, I was entranced by the sounds. And a warp hole came over the next two hours, that rainy evening on Clapham Common Grounds.
Four years later, Maceo Plex is still a conjurer of sorts.
I was reminded of his powers to enchant last year at Ultra’s 20th anniversary. The set was passionate. He counter-intuitively ended it on the softest note with his “Sparks of Life,” which left goosebumps on my arms. Another wow moment. This approach was very different from his Art Basel set a few months prior, where he drilled techno-heavy beats in a Wynwood warehouse. The scene was too dark and too late for me to bite into. So Ultra 20 really woke me back up to his capabilities.
The spell he casted at Space on Sunday wasn’t so unlike his Ultra set ten months ago, but he wove together a wider hodgepodge of sounds for this six-hour set. It was patchwork in a form unlike anything I had seen him do before. He played techno, disco, old shit, new shit. The build was slow, at least an hour. I wasn’t too sure where he was heading. But once he played Donna Summer’s, “I Feel Love,” I think the crowd knew in unison that we were in it to win it.
Looking back, I believe a good chunk of songs were on the slower side, which is ironic as it didn’t take away any inclination to dance.
Now it’s interesting observation to note that in years past, the golden hour has always been 6-7a, maybe up until 8a. But I’ve noticed that these guys come on and get even better past 9am. This was true for Capriati two months ago, Victor Calderon last weekend, and Maceo Plex this weekend.
I think an all-time favorite moment was past the 9am mark when he dropped, “Spin, Spin Sugar,” leaving us for 10 minutes singing the same words in some kind of craze. It was pretty incredible. Then the song afterwards was very…just, normal? My new friend joked that [Maceo] knew exactly what he was doing, that he took us to another planet. I joked that he dropped us off on another planet. He left us…but he’ll be back later to pick us up.
Now the dance floor was packed up until 11am, and I should have known the place would be littered late because for the first time, in a long time, I saw people just hanging out downstairs when I arrived at 4:20a, ironically at the same time Eric Estornel, aka Maceo Plex, arrived. Is the ESP between me and my DJs that strong? Ha, perhaps. Anyways, kudos to you if you scored a VIP band because VIP was about the only place you could bust a move on the terrace for five out of six hours that he played.
Outside of the music, it was straight-up, just a party. Everyone showed up. The brat pack of promoters who have been here since 2012 were a bunch of looney tunes in the techno loft. They made me laugh. And people in general were just friendly (well in VIP). The more I go, the more friendly faces I meet.
Needless to say, if you did not see Maceo Plex, it was a major fail on your part! I’m not left with a particular high days later like I was with Joseph Capriati’s set in November, but I am imprinted with the mark of Maceo. That morning for everyone who joined will be remembered.
SPIN, SPIN, SUGAR.
December 4, 2018
Exclusive Interview with Robbie Rivera
Q. Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions. Miami has been a long time fan of yours now, and this Art Basel, we will get to see you twice! Wednesday at Centro and Saturday at Red Room in the Shore Club. What are you looking forward to most about Basel? How much of your new album ‘Twenty’ can we expect to hear on the dance floor? I am not looking forward to the traffic but the parties should be great. I will be playing lots of new tracks from my label Juicy Music and some of the singles from my new album. Art Basel is not only about art anymore now it’s another music week with crazy amount of parties.
Q. Let’s talk about this past summer. You stayed in Miami when most DJs abandon us for Europe. In fact, you launched a weekly Juicy party at Rácket. What led you to that decision? And are you happy with the outcome? I go where I am requested. I have been touring for 20 years and sometimes summer does take me to Europe. Other times to South America and other times all over North America. I’ve always wanted a residency in Miami so I tried doing a weekly Sunday event at Racket playing lots of classics and the first two events worked but I eventually had to cancel them because they were not promoted correctly.
Q. Let’s go back even further. Since college, you found South Florida as a home. What is it about Miami that’s helped you develop as an artist? And what’s kept you around? I like Miami because I like living near the beach and I dislike the cold weather. I have friends and family here so it’s a good city to live and work plus it’s easy to travel for gigs.
Q. What have been some highlights of your time here? (Certainly, the notorious Juicy Beach parties of Winter Music Conference…) I agree with you. Promoting the Juicy Beach yearly event has been a big highlight for me and the fans. Unfortunately the scene has changed a lot so it’s not like it used to be but WMC is always a great week for fans of electronic music. Other highlights from my time here is living in Key Biscayne for over 20 years.
Q. Is there a particular event that stands out as being pivotal in your career? Performing at Pacha in Ibiza. I do it almost every year and I love it.
Q. Coming from Puerto Rico, we know your music has some Latin influences. What specific artists have inspired you? I grew up listening to many different styles of music in Puerto Rico. Here is a list of some artists or bands that have influenced me: David Morales, Kenny Dope, Louie Vega, Danny Tenaglia and bands like Nirvana, Metallica, Pearl Jam so you can see why my music has lots of energy.
Q. How do you feel about the direction of house music today? I like it a lot. House music is still popular and now it has that old school sound with cool simple piano chords and drum beats. It’s all about getting that right groove to get you on the dancefloor. If you like it a little darker sound, tech house is rocking right now.
Q. What would you like to see change or improve within Miami’s dance culture? Promoters need to start booking DJ’s based on their music and DJ creativity. Not on social media analytics. These numbers can be manipulated.
Q. What is a fun fact you’d like your fans to know? I have a twin.
Q. Lastly, any advice for aspiring artists who are just getting started? I don’t know anymore. This industry is brutal.
This Art Basel check out the legend Robbie Rivera. If you can’t see him this week, you can also catch him on New Year’s Eve at Hyde Beach SLS.
Interested in his new album? Read this billboard article, and listen on Apple music.