The Bang of Basel 2018

By Saturday, the dance scene was bubbling with energy. How? I do not know.

55+ notable DJ parties were listed in our Upcoming Events section over the 5-day span. These included: Richie Hawtin, Marco Carola, Solomun, Black Coffee, Erick Morillo, Loco Dice, Seth Troxler, Guy Gerber, Martinez Bros, Dubfire, Claude Vonstroke, and Nic Fanciulli – Twelve of DJ Mag’s Top 100 for this year. And to catch even all of these would have been a feat.

The My Miami Music warm-up started Wednesday with Robbie Rivera at Centro, which lacked in attendance, but the music was good. On Thursday, things went from zero to 100, and it took us by surprise on several accounts:

  1. The announcement of special guests at Dubfire‘s intimate Coyo Taco gathering. – Immediately all plans went all the window upon. Guy Gerber, Guti, Martinez Bros, and Radioslave were going to be spinning alongside him.
  2. Wynwood Factory hosting Loco Dice until 10am. – Wynwood is notorious for shutting down at 3am. So to have Coyo Taco close at 5a and then Loco Dice not even get on until 5a…this was unheard of, especially on a Thursday night.
  3. Discovering the yellow brick road of Wynwood. – Somehow the walk between Coyo Taco and Wynwood Factory is a mere 7 minute walk. Can it really be so easy to ping-pong between venues like on South Beach? (Look at 23rd/24th St on a map. It’s littered with venues now)

By Friday morning, party-goers lost track of time, referring to “last night” as Wednesday night and “tomorrow” as today. It was best to go at an hourly pace (“Did you see them at Centro a few hours ago?” versus “Did you see them last night?”) Or sequential order worked too. (“I went home after Rakastella” versus “I came home this morning.”) This blurriness goes to show how jam-packed Miami was with events, and how little this city slept. Yours truly got an average of four hours of sleep from Sunday to Sunday. It was a lot, especially if you tried to fit in Art, Music, and a job.

Just to keep up, I had to stop drinking by Thursday. And by Friday, sleeping after work, waking up again after midnight to go out, I set out to see Dubfire again. But the blurriness catches up with me. I go to Wynwood Factory, which was bangin’, I mean BANGIN’, and see a friend of mine that I was supposed to meet at Dubfire. I go to the DJ booth and say to myself, “That’s not Dubfire.” (nor did it sound like him.) So I keep looking for my friends in the massive venue, and after two loops I give up. I tell my friend how I can’t find the others and how it’s weird they’re not sticking to set times. She then tells me that, “Dubfire isn’t playing here.”

The look on my face.

It takes her telling me to realize, “I’m in the wrong f***ing place.”

Dumbfounded at 4a, I jet from Factory where Bedouin is playing and walk to 5th Miami to see the last hour of Dubfire. (Fail) But that’s the glorious thing about the yellow brick road of Wynwood – it was a 13 min walk (!) with plenty of people about during Basel to make it feel safe enough.

Dubfire played past 5a and I’m thinking I lucked out, I’m going to see him spin into sunrise. But cops come in 10 minutes later and squash the party. Dubfire had no intent of stopping the music. Seeing a friend, and making it backstage, Dubfire remarks how if an owner says to wrap it up, they don’t really mean it, that usually he can play longer, but this time, the owner was very serious. I suppose he thought he was going to go later, too. Thank you Miami-Dade police for shutting down a great party.

Factory was forcibly closed at 5a too. All this, when they have a 10a liquor license, too! (Loco Dice went ’til 10a the night before…) I can only imagine what the exit/shock looked like, considering how packed it was while I was there. So here’s a conspiracy theory. What do you think about Space paying cops to shutdown venues during Basel so they can be the only after-hours music club? It’s not so off-the-wall, right? The same went for Saturday. Factory was forcibly shutdown at 5a. So now Factory’s in a fight with the county.

Space meanwhile took home gold. Marco Carola went on for 12 hours. Solomun went on for 12 hours. Martinez Bros went on for 16 hours. And the house did not seem to empty out no matter what time of day it was. Finally, 2a Tuesday, we saw the end of frivolity. Space closed up shop. And we could finally make peace with the end of Art Basel week. Mind you, they don’t even give us a day of reprieve before they promote their next big gig. Give us ONE DAY Space! We need to breathe. Recover. Absorb everything that’s just happened. And savor it. It was an extraordinary year.

My biggest regret this Basel is not making it to Rakastella on Virginia Key. I had the chance at 5:30a to see Dixon b2b with Ame at sunrise Sunday morning. But to be honest, the thought of traffic coming back kept me from going. Imagine all those Lyfts and Ubers at 7a when everyone is trying to leave? It sounded like a mess. It also had a dismal turn-out last year (granted there was bad weather), so I did not think much of it. However, the reviews and videos say otherwise, and I heard traffic wasn’t that bad coming back. So kudos to everyone who made this event a part of their Basel plans!

Lastly, I would like to relay an observation from last week. Do you know what a “wook” is? Well, they are taking up territory of the Miami house music scene. When I was at the VIP entrance of Space waiting for Marco Carola, I saw one of the Space owners come out with his unruly hair, bandana tied across the forehead, and so much black eyeliner on, you would think he was casting for Pirates of the Caribbean. I couldn’t help but be acutely aware of his presentation. Could you imagine Louis Puig pulling off that kind of look? Or Roman Jones? They would look so ridiculous.

Rakastella is another movement towards wook-dom, offering an event space without a proper dance floor for hippies with tiny sunglasses and flowy shirts. As for me, I prefer my high-top sneakers and short shorts on a stable dance-floor. This is just a trend I noticed, and whether you support the wook-movement or not is up to you. I think you can tell it’s not for me.

So that’s our wrap on Basel Music Conference 2018. How did your Basel shape up? I heard Thursday was a really good night…