There was much promise at the start of the summer. I envisioned a summer filled with diversity, musical parties we could hop to and from, an air of freedom and exuberance.
Well, after the five go-to parties that I mentioned in my “Summer 2019 is Shaping Up” post, four of the five are no longer with us. I even got involved in the BT’s on the River party. I made that party my own. And it failed.
And if I thought last summer made me doubt the future of house music in Miami, my line of sight has grown even dimmer.
I identify and explain why each party did not make it. Then I commiserate on why BT’s failed. Lastly, I explain that it is not my doing, it is not the club’s doing, it is national economics that have squashed music as we know it.
I begin with party failures, in order of closing:
- Clevelander rooftop – Someone overdosed. A stupid way for patrons to ruin the music scene. Don’t do this. When cops and ambulances have to show up, someone must be blamed, and that is the promoters of said party.
- Barter – The attempt of relocating the vibe at 1-800-Lucky was a miserable fail. The energy could not be transferred four blocks north for Roger Sanchez’s Undr the Radar party. Personally, I didn’t like the fengshui of that place, so I don’t blame people for not going.
- Mokai House’d Sundays – This actually looked to be taking off. But after two months in, after Cocodrills played, the house decided they had had enough. Not enough sales.
- BT’s on the River – My baby. I saw her grow up. If you were there Fourth of July weekend for the official launch party, you understand the raw environment of what we were dealing with. She has now transformed into something beautiful. The owners have put over $70K into that terrace, and they continue with renovations. It will no doubt be a prized location in the years to come, however, our meager party pulling in the bar sales it did, was not enough to sustain.
This is what gets me. We had over 100 people showing up to our after-hours party. 100 people. With our bar sales, that’s on average $25 per person spending at the bar. Two drinks per person. That’s reasonable enough to ask, right? It is not enough in today’s world. And this is the epiphany – That even rich people rule the music world.
What does music require?
- Good sound (Speakers)
- Good space for sound to bounce off of
- DJ equipment (CD-Js + Mixer)
- Electrical power to juice the equipment (it’s significant enough)
That’s not even including the frills that people take for granted, such as furniture, fans, A/C, centerpieces, lights, dancers. But I call these secondary. For any good house music party, you need the sound and space to complement each other, you need the equipment, and you need the power.
We didn’t even have proper power setup until a month in, so the music would blow a fuse and turn off. We still kept it going. But despite all the losses our brand, “Sunrise Sessions,” sustained from the venue’s failure to have what we need, we pushed through. We made the club money. We made ourselves a little money. We made our team money.
That is entrepreneurship. You create something that generates wealth not only for yourself, but for others, too. We had the capability, we had the bones. We did not have the luck. Weather killed a couple of weekends. At the start, we did not have the right promoters.
By far, the biggest issue was not having the VIP big-spenders at the right time. When we did have the VIPs, the right people, what the industry calls, “filler people,” were not in place, so dollars were never spent.
All these elements, despite our intelligence, despite the patience and capital expenditure of the club, justified the importance of Luck. So many times, it is just plain, dumb luck. And after nine weeks of weather and poor timing of promoters and VIPs, history was written. I imagine Mokai suffered a similar fate, making it two months as well before quitting.
Where does that leave house music? If our local scene, our local businesses, cannot survive on just two drinks per customer, if we must have one person to justify the rest of the people being there (because they spend $1k+), what does that say about the 99% of people attending the event?
It pretty much means, you don’t mean anything. You are there, to simply make one person happy. You are a sales tool. And that, is your purpose. Maybe you add another $25 to the bar tab, but that’s a cherry on top.
Needless to say, I have this new-found vigor in myself. I’ve never been more politically enraged. All due to Income Inequality. We are suffering. Our education, our arts, our culture, our music suffers because the 99% do not have enough funds to go around to support the the art, education, or music we believe in. We constantly feel strapped. (Yes, even when I made six-figures, I felt strapped.) Why is this?
The wealth of the 1% grows exponentially compared to the rest of society. Taxation could do something to keep a healthier middle class, but our politics have abandoned that notion altogether. Politicians are not for the many, they are for the few. Just like nightclubs and music experiences and festivals…they are not for the many, they are for the few.
And this realization has changed everything for me.
The footprint of the 1% is stepping harder and harder on all of us to make our ecosystem of finances work, including what we have available to spend on clubbing, music, drinks, etc.
I have loved Miami for as long as I can remember, and I will always love it. But this squashing, it’s not only on our economics, it’s on our creative juices. How can we create something beautiful, when it depends on just one big player, every week. That’s all it takes. That’s not creativity, that’s sales and marketing and pitching to rich people who don’t know any better.
I can’t imagine club life was always that way. It was about the majority having a good time, where $25 per head would suffice.
Our government, which encourages the rich to have power, and feeds policies that cater to the rich, extends down to us artists, who just want a freedom of movement. The beauty, the love, the freedom of dancing and sharing it with people who could afford to be there as well and share it with you. That is what we want.
Why must we feel every event needs to be free? Or that we must spend $500+ in an outrageous weekend of Basel or MMW? This growing conception is unfathomable, but it’s become the new norm in Miami. We want everything to be free throughout the year. This has become almost status-quo. And no, it’s not because we’re spoiled, but because again, the normal person is just a filler. You are there to sell the dime-piece in the room.
This makes me want to cry. Not just because I lost a party I believed in, but because this structure has been fed to us. And we accept it. Oh, it’s ok. I can be like the rich some-day. No, we can’t.
Each month, their interest gains accumulate. At year-end, those gains are taxed less than a teacher’s salary. Talk about unfair.
That being said, the “American Dream” is dead. In this Ted talk, the speaker jokes that, “If you want the American Dream, move to Denmark.” Yes, it’s true.
So I implore you to seek other countries that uphold the value of a healthy middle class, that supports creativity, the arts, and what brings good music and good music experiences to fruition. Although being crippled by the hand that feeds us, ultimately, you choose your actions. Politicians likely won’t listen because one of the 400 has just written him a check for $1million+.
My move will probably be to abandon ship. I don’t see this getting any better. It’s sad. I want music to live. It has been there so many times when I’ve been lost or confused. It was there, when there was nothing left in my world. My life was falling apart. But I knew I could be at Space on Sunday. At whatever tender age in my 20’s, I could go to Club Space and find solace.
Most people would laugh and say, how could you find solace in a place like Space? Oh, I found it so many times. In an age before smartphones, in an age before GPS. Oh, the release and the beauty I found.
So, I’m pretty sure I’m moving to Amsterdam. I say pretty outlandish things sometimes being a Cancer. The irony is, most Cancers usually follow-through on the outlandish things they say.
So I urge you to watch two pieces of media. One is a documentary on Amazon Prime Now is called, “Park Avenue.” It’s a must-see. The other is the TED Talk I mentioned.
Unfortunately, I believe this country is on the brink of violence against the rich. After having this ephiphany today of how the rich control everything, I saw a Bentley on the road, and all I can say, is that my thoughts were definitely violent. And that’s not healthy.
For the love of music. For the love of freedom. For the love of joy. I love you all. Even if you are rich. But if you are rich, consider how you can do something politically to make this country a better place for us all.
<3 My Miami Music