Dirty Dancing

They got the beat. This past March thousands of DJs, producers, industry androids, and dance-music zealots turned Miami, Florida, into an epicenter of wheeling and dealing. The 17th annual weeklong Winter Music Conference blazed through South Beach, saturating some three square miles of clubs, hotels, and beachfront with DJ showcases and live performances.

City Pages observed the industrious schmoozing and clubbing schedules of this year's various WMC attendees. By drawing the individual portraits of some of the major players, presented below, we discovered that WMC might not have united them under one groove. It did, however, unify them in their thirst for organized chaos--and tall piña coladas.

 

Miami vice: Record addicts Jason Heinrichs and Lady Sarah (top row, far left) and friends
Courtesy of Jason Heinrichs
Miami vice: Record addicts Jason Heinrichs and Lady Sarah (top row, far left) and friends

Name: Jacques Lu Cont, a.k.a. Les Rhythmes Digitales

Home base: London

Signature sound: Eighties-style electro

Why you'd want to carry his record bag: He opened for a post-cone-titted Madonna on her Drowned World Tour. Astralwerks publicist Katie Deatrick remembers Lu Cont returning from the tour wearing an exceptionally stylish belt. "He was so shy about it," she laughs. "When I asked him where he got it, he whispered, 'She gave it to me.'"

Notable music contributions:1999's Darkdancer (Astralwerks). Synth-poppy and unapologetically new wave, the album's highlights include "(Hey You) What's That Sound?" and "Jacques Your Body (Make Me Sweat)." Break-dancing-friendly.

What he did on his Winter vacation: Owing to label-mate Fatboy Slim's late arrival, Lu Cont extends his staple WMC acid-disco set by nearly an hour at the annual Astralwerks Beach Party. He wears an unbuttoned dress shirt with skulls printed all over it, and the glam look reflects his musical style. Later, in the V.I.P. area, the raven-haired Brit divulges, "I may not have played my best set ever, but I meant every record of it."

Name: Roomsa

Home base: Minneapolis

Signature sound: Live deep house with a potent funk, featuring Jason Heinrichs (producer/DJ) and Lady Sarah (vocalist/ songwriter)

Why you'd want to carry their record bags: Everything this duo touches is gold--including Sarah's hair. Chicago house legend Gene Farris met them through Minneapolis Soul Music founder Monte Hilleman and admired their Midas touch: He snatched up Roomsa to record on his internationally respected label, Farris Wheel.

Notable music contributions: Dance floors across the U.S. have been pumping Roomsa's Reasons Why EP (Farris Wheel Ltd.) and their first single, "Dance All Night." The latter was remixed by both Naked Music's Ra Soul and Minneapolis's own treasure, Alexander East.

What they did on their Winter vacation: Honey, a sparkling club furnished with white leather, hosted Roomsa and other Minneapolis talent. The 70-odd people that showed up for the "deep house decadence" that night watched as Sarah, adorned in a sequined pantsuit, got down and diva on the mic, while Jason was fast-fingered, providing the beats.

 

Name: Dr. Strangelove (Jay Tappe), DJ Harddrive (Nate Lee), and Jiz Tha Goods (Adam Thorpe) of Down 2 Earth Productions

Home base: Minneapolis

Signature sounds: Chicago-style house and tech-house

Why you'd want to carry their record bags:Having paid their dues as flyer boys and opening DJs over the past several years, these guys earned their place at WMC. Inspired by friend and Chicago house banger DJ Halo, the fun-loving trio choose not to spin the deeper sounds of their contemporaries (such as MSM). Instead, they jack crowds with a quirkier beat.

Notable musical contributions:If you've ever danced your derriere off at one of First Avenue's two dozen locally mixed Ghetto Blaster showcases--or at the Stereo warehouse or Fine Line parties--you can thank these guys for the memories.

What they did on their Winter vacation: At mega-star DJ Danny Tenaglia's legendary 16-hour Club Space party--the be-all, end-all afterhours--Tappe proves he's one smooth mutha (shut your mouth!). The lines and guest list are long. The mop-topped Lee recaps: "After Adam and I waited for Jay to scam his way into [Space] unsuccessfully for 45 minutes, we took a cab back home. It was just too much for me to watch Jay try and talk the bouncer into believing he was a super-promoter who works extensively with Space on a number of projects. After an hour of persistence, the bouncer finally backed down and couldn't resist Jay's impressive white smile."

 

Name: Gunnar Hissam, publicist, Om Records

Home base: San Francisco

Signature Sound: The label puts out some of the best downtempo and deep grooves on the market. Their T-shirts read "Om Records: The United Nations of Future Music."

Why you'd want to carry his record bag: Because you want the free promos.

What he did on his Winter vacation:Online music store CD Now called the Om Records showcase--which featured Mark Farina, Soulstice, and Marques Wyatt--the "party of the year" at WMC. But things didn't end at closing time: After the show wound down, the Om crew headed back to the rented room in the mansion (affectionately known as "Villa Chianti") where they were staying. "When we got back, we were shocked to see masses of people we didn't know rolling up on our spot," Hissam recalls. "A group of 200 carnies, randoms, and overall freakers descended on our crib to commence drinking all of our liquor and playing really bad demos at ear-splitting levels until noon the next day--blowing our speakers! The headache still lingers."

 
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