The Miami Diaries

Every year I go to Miami's Winter Music Conference desperately in need of a vacation. Every year I leave Miami's Winter Music Conference desperately in need of a vacation. After five days at dance music's hedonistic party, I've lost my voice, had a total of 10 hours' sleep, and am paler than before I went. Must've had fun!

TUESDAY I've never made it to one of Danny Tenaglia's marathon Miami sets—mainly 'cause I'm a wuss. This year I vowed to even though I would be defying all normal sleep patterns, since Tenaglia doesn't stop spinning until the sun sets.

Sun sessions: Nikki beach bums
photo: Carla Spartos
Sun sessions: Nikki beach bums

His party marked the opening night of the conference and the new Club Space, which was a maze of mezzanines, levels, and terraces. A large number of fire marshals and EMT technicians roamed the club, and the staff handled things rather well considering the size of the crowd (Tenaglia said almost 7,000 revelers came through the doors). If ever there was a blueprint for clubs and communities coexisting in a sane fashion, Miami would be it.

At around 6 a.m. the crowd got noticeably excited over a funky track with the refrain, "Let's get up and get ill/Your dreams will be fulfilled." At the song's finish, Tenaglia announced: "That track was "Let's Get Ill" by Deep Dish and . . . Puff Daddy." Jaws dropped, including mine.

"I had never met Puff until that night," wrote Tenaglia via e-mail. "When he came in the booth and met me, he handed me a CD of the mix I played and I handed him the headphones and said: 'Here, you play it!' He looked at me like 'WHAT???' "

As for our little group, we decided to call it a morning and staggered out at 7 a.m., leaving behind several hardcore friends. Said one member of our posse: "And just think—we're the responsible ones."

WEDNESDAY Tommie Sunshine and Casey Spooner hosted a motley mix of New York hipsters and Miami locals for a night of karaoke at the Shelbourne Beach Resort. The locals—who didn't get the irony—performed pitch-perfect versions of Mariah Carey, Tori Amos, and Ricky Martin songs. Sunshine destroyed "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone"; DJ Ulysses could become a country artist based on his respectable rendition of Hank Williams's "Hey, Good Lookin'." If I may say so, Larry Tee's reprisal of his own hit "Supermodel (You Better Work)" was one of the evening's biggest hits. "I wrote the song," said Tee in his squeaky voice. "I should be allowed to sing it."

Full disclosure: Tee needed two "supermodels" and requested that yours truly and another height-challenged friend assist him in his big return to the stage. We sashayed and vogued to the best of our abilities. However, I am offering mucho dinero for all photos taken so that I can burn the evidence.

Mr. Spooner showed up later in a strategically torn mesh T-shirt and tight pants. He had come from the DanceStar Awards, where Fischerspooner had won the Best Remix award. With his hair grown out and streaked blond, Spooner's latest look is more hunky than his previous Kabuki/Goth Warrior persona, and the girls in my posse officially anointed him Miami Boyfriend. "Good," he cackled. "My plan is working." He confirmed that Puff's performance at the DanceStar Awards was a big hit but cried that the rapper was "biting" his style—by lip-synching, of course.

Afterwards at Urb's annual party, Roni Size rocked it in the main room, aided by his Full Cycle crew—Krust, Die, MC Tali, and MC Dynamite. Before he hit the stage, Krust told me a new Reprazent album is due in September—no major label this time out, just a self-released effort. Upstairs, Felix Da Housecat grinned his way through a new wave/nouveau wave set; when he played the Rapture's "House of Jealous Lovers," the crowd erupted.

THURSDAY The main event was the Return to New York party in Miami's Design District featuring DFA's James Murphy performing with his LCD Soundsystem band and headliners the Rapture. The New Yorkers in Miami were wondering why we were going to a party that showcased the same people we could see back home, but after two days and nights of hoochies in heels and muscled men who looked like Chelsea gay boys but acted like macho morons, it was nice to be around pasty-faced, scrawny, flat-chested New Yorkers.

Though it was my fifth year at the Winter Music Conference, the sheer number of thong-wearing, boob-enhanced citizens on the streets of Miami never fails to—dare I say it—shock and awe. The women in Miami set the feminist movement back 300 years, and it's nearly impossible to tell the difference between real-life hookers and regular 'hos. It was so distressing that we invented a game: 'Ho or No? We decided that the way to tell was based on the walk and the shoes. (Hint: Lucite heels almost always signal a hooker.)

Being in shallow Miami while we were waging war made for a surreal reality. Nobody gave any indication that they had anything on their minds other than where the next party was, but when we got home we'd turn on CNN to watch the latest. The closest thing to a pro- or anti-war moment was when Tenaglia opened his set with a "no more war" chant, and when someone gave me a handout for a "Dance for Peace" event.

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