They call the Winter Music Conference the dance music community’s Spring Break, and every March, thousands of New York industry schmucks—including yours truly—head down to South Beach to “work.”
The New York-based label Astralwerks got everyone off to a dizzy start Saturday night at the Astralwerks Beach Party, where Chicago DJs Sneak and Felix da Housecat were spied taking in the sounds of Cassius and Daft Punk. Felix, whose new CD, Kittenz and Thee Glitz, is getting much buzz, was seen gabbing with a line of well-wishers as long as the one to get in. Headliner Fatboy Slim was late (as usual), not because of any misbehavior (no plunger on the head or anything) but because of a delayed flight. He arrived in the nick of time, but, alas, he played the same set three times in a row at his various conference gigs.
Stupid Stuff magazine took over the Nash hotel, hosting the most annoying, but “cool” events of the conference (where everyone stands around, looking good, drinking free alcohol, and completely ignoring the music). The rude bwoys guarding the door of Lil’ Louie Vega’s shindig turned us away, which was even more infuriating because the bouncers didn’t even know who the Master at Work was. Duh.
Later, at local promotion crew Giant Step’s schmoozy, lifeless party way over on the other side of the world (OK, it was just on South Beach’s west end at Monty’s on the Bay), I ran into Talking Loud founder Gilles Peterson, cute and boyish as ever, leaving the party clutching records. Lady Bunny seemed strangely out of place, sitting by herself in an overdone black-and-white getup, wearing too much makeup and her traditional wasted-Peggy Lee wig. Turns out she’s plugging her new disc with New York house producer DJ Disciple.
Claiming to be celebrating 19 years on the planet, new wave whore Tommie Sunshine threw a star-studded, debauched b-day party Sunday afternoon at the Studio, which was crawling with pasty-faced people with dyed-black hair—so you knew they must be from Detroit. Summer Forest, producer of the rave documentary Rise and co-author of Searching for the Perfect Beat: Flyer Designs of the American Rave Scene, scampered about during a tag-team set by “mature couple” Nicola Kuperus and Adam Le Miller, a/k/a Adult, the latter donning a Black Flag T-shirt. So punk rock. New York’s everyman John Selway danced to a set by Brendan Gillen of Ectomorph. The Detroit electro artist had everybody jumping with a mix of Laid Back’s “White Horse” and Prince’s “Erotic City.”
New York promotion and record company Matter/:Form hosted a very U.K. lineup featuring tech-house gods Terry Francis, Mr. C, and Layo and Bushwacka—who smashed it up. Promoter Elan Akerman, displaying his usual humility, shouted, “I’m sorry, but we’ve got the best lineup of the whole conference.” No argument here.
Back to Stuff Hotel for the Southern Fried Cooking party with Fatboy Slim, Lottie, and Scanty Sandwich. Trance superstars Sasha and John Digweed cruised around the throng—which included the newly anointed Spin editor in chief Sia Michel. Playboy Sasha appeared a bit bleary-eyed (long night, dear?).
Over at the DanceStar USA awards, Astralwerks artist Fatboy Slim won two trophies, but when Label of the Year was announced, no representatives from Astralwerks were on hand to accept. Ooops.
Monday’s Naked Music party at the Nikki Beach club featured Miguel Migs, Lazy Dog, and chanteuse Lisa Shaw. New York techno promoter-DJ Kimyon, modeling a fashionable Fred Flintstone T-shirt, brandished some exclusive white labels like the spoiled boy that he is.
Vice magazine’s sleazy electro party found suddenly famous electro geeks John Selway, Brendan Gillen, and Felix Da Housecat wandering around the scummy Vegas Cabaret Club while third-rate strippers with third-rate boob jobs ground their pussies into third-rate men. DJ Hell played Nitzer Ebb’s “Join in the Chant” and Miss Kittin was a no-show, missing two flights from Paris for no reason at all. Bummer for the sad girl walking around in a rubber nurse’s outfit. Outside, Felix sat on a bus-stop bench. “It’s your year!” I told him. He blushed and gave me a 12-inch of “Silver Screen Shower Scene,” and warned, “Now, I better not see that in the gutter.”
A cocky man with a cockney accent working the door at the Triple5Soul and Fader magazine party with Jazzanova, Jazzy Jeff, and ?estlove, yelled that all the artists had already performed (at 2:30 a.m.!?) and the list was closed. Thanks, but no thanks, you British wanker. Big-shot promoter Matt E. Silver and his buddy Nick Butterworth, formerly of Sonic Net, had no problem getting in. Both rolled in and quickly rolled out. “Eh, it was nothing,” said Silver.
Roni Size spun soulful d’n’b at a Tuesday-morning brunch hosted by Formula PR while Campari girls shimmied to the beat in the penthouse suite. Fabulous life, isn’t it—getting paid to wear red rubber hot pants and black leather boots and drink hard alcohol at noon? Size had gotten some, ahem, “assistance” and had danced to Danny Tenaglia from 8 a.m. till he showed up at his own gig five hours later. (“It was tribal, man—deep!!” he shouted.) Also seen at Danny’s gig at Space (everyone referred to him by first name only, like a best buddy): Carl Cox, who took his usual spot on the speakers and pumped his fist in the air. Yoko Ono made an appearance at around the same time most people are waking up and having their morning coffee. Said Mixer mag editor M. Tye Comer, who bought a new pair of silver sneakers especially for the occasion: “She did her little caterwaul thing over the Orange Factory remix of her ‘Open Your Box,’ and told the crowd ‘Boys, take off your shirts and take off your pants so I can come all over you.’ ” Okaaay. Unfortunately, Liquid Sound Lounge’s Jeannie Hopper didn’t spin the outside area this year, but she is getting her own monthly residency in London, at a new club called, ironically, Bridge and Tunnel.
Caught a little drum’n’bass action at Tanja, where High Contrast, a 21-year-old upstart from Cardiff, Wales, displayed beautiful mixing skills and a great selection of housey drum’n’bass. The d’n’b mafia showed up by the time Goldie (who, by the way, has finally figured out how to match a beat) got on the decks. Seen: Roni Size getting jiggy with it; Metalheadz’ Bailey chatting up the ladies, Urb magazine publisher Raymond Roker grooving with his girlfriend, Delmar and Empress hanging with newly blond and lovely new New Yorker Siren, and Grooverider and Fabio chillin’ during fellow Brits John B and SS’s sets. Ever the househead, Size left to check out Lil’ Louie Vega at the Magic Sessions.Hopper joined promoter/DJ Neil Aline at the Chez/Wave party later at Rain, which was a smashing success, with all manner of hipsters shakin’ it to Roy Davis Jr. and Francois K. Hopper pointed out a very large man in the crowd, “Could it be E-man?” she asked with a wink. (It was.)
At some point (it’s all a blur), I spotted a handmade cardboard sign outside Bash with “DJ SNEAK AND DERRICK CARTER TONIGHT!” scrawled in magic marker. I stared in disbelief, I thought it must be a hoax, since I missed the party in my DJ Prince/Flyer magazine guidebook. When I realized the large, jolly Sneak was standing next to the tattered sign like an in-person advertisement, I took that as confirmation. It turned out to be the undiscovered jewel of the conference with a not-too-crowded dancefloor filled with clubbers dancing their asses off, including New York’s biggest rave promoter Chris Stuck on Earth shaking his groove thang way in the front row to Carter’s set and glamorous house diva Miss Honey Dijon sticking it out till the very end.
John Selway gets the award for Biggest Conference Partier: He jumped from Carter/Sneak to next door at Goddess (again, goddammit) for the stuffed-to-the-gills OM bash. S.F. diva, Charlotte the Baroness was seen looking distressed at the door; apparently a fight had broken out between party organizers, resulting in one man getting thrown out. New York junglist/downtempo DJ Swingsett staggered around to New York deep-house DJ John Howard’s closing set, exclaiming, “I’ve smoked enough cigarettes to kill ten men!”
The young and the restless headed for the beach to watch the sunrise, including New York writer/promoter/DJ/professional schmoozer David Prince, Girlie Action publicity princess Vickie Starr, ex–Astralwerks/Urb editor Todd Roberts, and Flyer mag editor Hosi Simon. You can be sure they were all incredibly hard at work.
What fallen club owner is planning to open a new nightclub? And no, it’s not Peter Gatien.