Mamma Mia

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.

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.

Summer 2019 comes to a close

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?

  1. Good sound (Speakers)
  2. Good space for sound to bounce off of
  3. DJ equipment (CD-Js + Mixer)
  4. 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

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! 😎

The End of Ultra Miami

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With you, Miami. <3 

Post-MMW 2019

The end of Music Week has always left me with a certain vulnerability. A love for something gone. A world full of color now bleak with tones of gray.

I worked on this playlist in anticipation of this week. May it lift your spirits.🙏🏼 Link in bio.

Listen on Spotify or Apple Music.

Ultra at Bicentennial Park

I give you a little blast from the past. Memories never to be re-created, but always cherished. Enjoy. 🙂

Listen to this playlist on Spotify or Apple Music .

Some songs are not on either platform, so I give you YouTube links to others:

Martin Solveig – C’est La Vie

 

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!