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 Spoonerhosted 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.


FRIDAY Metro Area headlined the Diesel-U Music gig at the Sagamore Hotel. The boys have developed quite a following: Not only did the dance-music cognoscenti turn out to see them, including Lady Miss Kier, but the local musicians took home the Best New Artist trophy from the DanceStar Awards.

Peaches arrived wearing a horrifically fantastic gold-lamé outfit she found at a Miami shop and reported that a hotel guest, upon spotting the raunchy singer entering the posh premises, said, "Oh look, they hired a hooker." She was interviewed poolside by a topless woman from NakedNews.com. "I poured vodka on her tits," Peaches told me later. "She loved it." The night before she had stunned the staid crowd at the WMC's annual awards show by singing her foul-mouthed tunes and then taking a dive into the pool—wearing an evening gown. Several attendees thanked her for livening things up.

Miami Boyfriend was there to check out Metro Area, too. He gamely offered his Miami Girlfriends a ride in his SUV limo to the Spin/Vice/Flyer/Tribeca Grand Revolver party later that night. Being sluts for debauchery and excess, we readily accepted, and insisted that champagne be bought. While we made a pit stop somewhere on Washington Avenue, Peaches entertained unsuspecting onlookers by taunting them through the roof. When we finally arrived bubblied up at the SoHo Lounge, the driver gamely pumped the hip-hop triply loud for full obnoxious effect. James Murphy slunk low in his seat from embarrassment, and I said, "Your indie cred's just been shot to hell."

Inside, a blond-haired, tanned, and glasses-less Richie Hawtin danced incognito to 2manydjs' rousing set. DJ Hell said he kept telling Hawtin, "Who are you? I don't know who you are!" Hell confirmed that he has been trying to connect with DFA for his nearly completed album, but "they are too busy with their own stuff. Maybe a remix." And he said his longtime feud with Larry Tee is over and that he might even play Luxx to signify that things are all good. As the evening wore down, things got messier. Miami Boyfriend made me do double shots of Cuervo; later, he made all those taking the limo back home go skinny dipping with him in the ocean.

I smartly departed at 5 a.m. but then, not so smartly, went to an after-party at a certain magazine publisher's rooftop penthouse where Mike Skinner, a/k/a the Streets, and Dominique of Plant took part in unmentionable party activities. Dominique was off his head in a particularly bad way, having fallen into the pool with all his clothes and records. When we arrived he was limping around wearing nothing but a towel. I stumbled down Collins Avenue at 8:30 a.m. like a little girl lost, or a homeless person.


SATURDAYSlept. And slept. And slept some more. Roused myself for the Wall of Sound's 10th anniversary jam at the Sagamore Hotel penthouse, where 2manydjs were once again ripping it up. Wall of Sound owner Mark Jones bobbed among the crowd—which also included members of the Crystal Methodand Röyksopp, the latter having played the day before at Astralwerk's annual Nikki Beach party.

At midnight, the debate was "Should we go to bed or should we go to B.E.D.?"—where Richie Hawtin was hosting his super-exclusive invite-only party. We opted for the latter, but by that point, I had to prop myself up against a wall, as Hawtin—who was in techno warrior mode—pounded out a blistering set. As we exited the venue at 4:30 a.m., a friend summed up the evening—and the conference: "That was intense."


tromano@villagevoice.com

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