Miami Sound Machine

Music, mayhem, materialism: Experiencing the rhapsody and the industry of Miami's Winter Music Conference

And because the entertainment is unceasing, the ensuing mess never has the time to find its way to the trashcan. When I return to the hotel to crash the Suite Beatz party, the hallways are trashed with flyers, plastic cups, and random debris. A visible cloud of steam hovers over the sweaty heads of the partiers crammed inside the suite. Not one of the baggy-panted clubbers in this crowd remotely resembles the kind of wealthy patron that this room is designed to pamper. Here is another glimpse of the raver crowd I have longed for in Miami: They're dressed down--some, like Glaude, are in "RESPECT" tees--and they're celebrating their individuality, instead of the invention of silicone.

Suite Beatz--a dance party contrived by Minnesota/Toronto promoter DJ Hollywood and his Liquid Adrenaline crew--features an impressive lineup dominated by Chicago-house DJs. Jamming myself between a window and a plant, I sacrifice my personal space to hear Hatiras (Toronto) and Bad Boy Bill (Chicago).

"You've gotta take into consideration that Warner Bros. had this room for three days before we did," says Minneapolis Numbers promoter, Nicolas Will, suggesting that a party had been desperately needed to liven up the living quarters.

Beat blanket bingo: Felix, one of the cool cats who make up Bassment Jaxx, matches his beats for an oceanside audience at WMC
Beat blanket bingo: Felix, one of the cool cats who make up Bassment Jaxx, matches his beats for an oceanside audience at WMC

"Some people [at WMC] have business way too much on their minds," Will adds, perhaps noticing the family resemblance between WMC and the corporate Warner Bros. crew. "The 'higher-ups'--who can help the people [who are] giving out thousands of business cards and CDs--are down here to have a good time. So if you want to be on their level, you want to have a good time too."

And from the way the ramshackle room looks--cluttered with the empty cups and sweaty clothes of a dance orgy in its mature hours--a good time has been had by all.

Though reluctant to leave Sweet Beatz, I dash across town for one last party. Om Records is presenting deep-house idol Mark Farina with the jazzy beats and syrupy vocals of Soulstice. At 4:00 a.m., Farina is only an hour into his set, and already I am tiring. I find my way back to the Barbizon for my departure, but not before meeting my roommates at shoreline to watch the sunrise.

Surrounded by a sizable crowd that is drunk with the same idea, I wonder about pre-WMC Miami. Did the dance scene here always take the fierce community between DJs and dancers and feed it to the business culture? Thinking again of Will Smith's kitschy ditty and of the crowd it still attracts to the dance floor, I decide that WMC is probably just carrying on the traditional vibe of the Miami sound machine.

In four hours I will be on a plane back from Miami to the Minnesotan igloo. By most objective standards, it is now morning. Both my time and my enthusiasm for the rock-star schedule have dwindled. I trudge back to the hotel and once again see Glaude, who is heading back to Seattle.

This time his presence doesn't faze me. I feel a sense of camaraderie with Glaude, as if we are a mismatched set of siblings. After all, I have danced until my kneecaps liquefied. I have experienced the midget scene at the News Café. And I have "gotten the fuck up" with Glaude. We're old school now, him and me.

"What's up?" I ask him flatly, as we both drag our luggage to the sidewalk.

Glaude smiles. "I'm tired as hell. Going home." But then he looks perplexed. Wrinkling his nose a bit, he asks, "Where are you from?"

Sigh... "Minnesota," I answer. Guess the DJs and the dancers didn't get as intimate during this round of WMC as I'd thought.

Perhaps the only way to initiate that relationship now is to buy a ticket for
next year.

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