I'm not going to bother breaking this down into days because it was all one big, continuous, relatively sleepless blur for me. This is what little I remember of it...
Flew into Miami after not sleeping since Thursday night. Got to Space with the GN crew nice and early. While the club was nearly empty, the music was cranked up to eleven. Walked around with bwags trying to find a place to stand where our ears wouldn't bleed. Much to our dismay, it was equally loud in every nook and cranny. Eventually, Space filled up and the sound got a bit more bearable...perhaps because we lost some of our hearing by then. By the time PvD took the decks, the place was like a sardine can full of happy fish. Paul spun track after banging track to an audience that was jumping around like kangaroos on crack. I was one mangled wallaby. I danced so hard that I actually pulled a muscle in my right leg. My fellow Groovanauts and I were screaming superlatives at the top of our lungs. My only gripe is that having spun NBY into the ground, PvD seemed intent on doing the same with Crush, a track that I still like but am on the verge of putting in the minus column. There is absolutely no reason why a world class DJ should repeat any track during a set, especially three times. Paul, your PowerBook needs a larger hard drive.
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Decided to catch some rays with the GN chicas. Slathered my nose with SPF30 and dozed off. Woke up with a red face and a white nose. Sometime in the process of bitching about it, my voice disappeared. Must have been all that screaming during PvD. I wish I had at least lost my voice screaming something profound or important. I likely lost it screaming "WOOOOO!!!!" all night. I hoped all that slushy booze at Wet Willies would help. No dice. Helped me to not care so much about being sun burnt and mute though. Watching Lust-E turn into a giddy little girl in front of Warren Sapp there was fun. "Oooh, he's SO big!"
After a very brief nap, took off for Ultra. I went to the will call tent to pick up my tix. The guy at the counter pointed out that the credit card number on the receipt and my current card didn't match. I explained to him that I lost my card since ordering the tix and had to get a replacement. He looked at my printed receipt and gave me one ticket. I asked about the other ticket, since I had paid for two. He said that the receipt was for just one. I asked if I could dispute the other charge. He looked up at me and said "Oh, you're gonna dispute the charge? Give me that!" and grabbed the one ticket out of my hand. I incredulously reassured him that I wouldn't and just wanted the one ticket back. He told me that he couldn't give it back because I said I was going to dispute. WTF! I told him I wouldn't again and he replied that it was too late. So, here I was at Ultra without any tickets. Tickets at the door were $75. Fuck that! Royce Haven and I went back to the hotel while Metro and Overseas decided to go ahead and stay. Upon getting out of the cab, I realized that a week's worth of "stuff" fell out of my pocket. This was shaping up to be a crappy night.
With time to kill, Royce and I decided to drop by and help the Yoshitoshi guys set up the Deep Dish party at Space. The staff at Space kicked ass and hooked us up for the rest of the night. As fellow Groovanauts started to stream in, the party was on full blast. Deep Dish killed it! One of the best sets I had ever heard from them, especially from Ali. Space was full of some of the most gorgeous women I had ever seen. I had the VIP hookups I could mack it with. Unfortunately my pimp style was destroyed by the fact that by then I had absolutely no voice left. It's hard to pick up women when you can't talk. I now have a newfound appreciation for any mute guy who can pick up hot chicks. It's harder than you would think. Pointing at my wallet and then my crotch didn't work quite as well as I had hoped.
Apparently, I wasn't alone in Muteville. Many of my fellow Groovanauts had also lost their voices by then. We all communicated by typing text messages and holding up our phones to one another. It must have been quite an odd site to see a gaggle of people by the booth feverishly texting away on their cells. Most of what we were typing to one another wasn't anything more eloquent that "Deep Dish kicks ass!" We probably looked like foreign correspondents from CNN notifying headquarters about some major new development "We've found Bin Laden...and he's high as a kite!"
Some more GN reinforcements showed up and a bunch of us wound up on the terrace. Tom Stephan was REALLY tearing it up. We spent the rest of the morning there bouncing around under the tarp or bopping in a corner to the left of the booth. I danced so hard that I pulled a muscle in my other leg. At one point, Paris Hilton walked by. My Super Pimp Powers were rendered useless without my voice. As pointing to my wallet would have probably been futile, I probably should have tried pointing to my crotch. You never know. Eventually, some of our GN girls got a certain craving and we left the party on a mission.
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After leaving Space and a brief stop at our hotel for a quick pick-me-up, we walked over to the Plastic Sex in the AM party at the Teasers Hotel. Team J5, tiny butterfly and prplhz were already there partying it up with the Boston crew. We slouched on the couches while everyone else was grooving all around us. I was grooving in my head. Porter and the boys were amazing. By this point in time, I was a cripple. My voice was gone, I was limping, burned to a crisp, unable to read because my eyes couldn't focus and had barely a brain cell rattling around in my hollow skull. Skytrancegirl had to leave because she had to fly home. I had no one to take care of my broken ass. Fortunately, prplhz stepped up and served as my loyal nurse for the next few days. I would be laying in a Miami gutter without her. Jess made sure that I always had a beer in my hand and some food in my stomach.
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After a feeble attempt at a nap, we wound up at the Proton party at the Aqua Hotel. By then, my body had abandoned any notion of sleep and learned to stop whining. I was cruising on beer power, some nutrition bars and my meds. My voice decided to make a guest appearance and I got to chat with Subsky and some of the other DJs. Before long, the Groovanauts and Boston crew essentially took over the whole party. Free beer. I'm not sure how the day ended.
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After finally getting a few hours of desperately needed sleep, it was time to get grooving again. Although I had an invite to Howells @ Bed, a bunch of us decided to go to Lawler @ State instead. State was empty and the sound system sounded like it was tuned by the same guy who did it for PvD @ Space. Clive Henry was busy annoying the hell out of the few patrons there. We grabbed a platform and waited around for Lawler impatiently. Eventually, Steve took over and the club filled up with sausage. It might as well as have been a circuit party in there. Fortunately, someone tweaked the sound to a bearable level by then. Lawler opened up with a track by our very own Dr. Kucho! The place went nuts and didn't come down for the rest of the night. Lawler was dropping everything from his signature dark tribal beats to techno. There wasn't a single person standing still in the whole place...except for Aiko, who was sitting still as he usually does when he REALLY likes the music. The rest of us were dancing up a storm...quite literally. State had a camouflage net with leaves on it stretched above the floor. After each time the cryo cannon would blast vapor over the crowd, condensation would collect on the leaves and drip down. It was raining on the dance floor. The whole experience was akin to dancing around in an Amazonian rain forest. As amazing as Lawler's set was, Lust-E, Royce Haven and myself decided to leave with a few hours to go to check out the remainder of Danny Howell's set at BED. Honestly, if we had stayed any longer, we might have either died of heat stroke or cracked our skulls after slipping on the wet floor.
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We took a cab over to BED only to find that the place was filled to capacity and the fire marshal was not letting anyone else in. Our invites were worthless at that point. I think Danny Howells' mother wouldn't have gotten in. We decided to grab a bite at the pita place up the street and wait for the marshal to leave. By then, Royce Haven and I were on our way down. Our energy was leaving us and we were getting grumpy. Lust-E was contrastingly upbeat about getting into BED, probably because he took his meds. At that point, I was too apathetic to try and gave him my invite for him to go try it with. After Royce and I polished off some beers, I got a message from Lust-E. Apparently, he had gotten in. Just then it hit me: the BACK DOOR! Royce and I had completely forgotten about that. We returned to BED and went around to the back. A few other guys were busy calling someone on the inside. We waited around for a bit but eventually succumbed to our own apathy and left. I'm still regretting that. By the time we returned to the hotel, Overseas called me about Lawler doing afterhours at Cafeteria. Royce and I were so tired and dejected that we decided to just stay in and finally get some real sleep.
Woke up at 2pm after finally getting some real sleep. I felt like a new man. I was ready to go another few nights without sleep. Joined the crew for some brunch and then took off with a bunch of Groovers to the Remix Pool Sessions party at the Ritz Hotel. We picked some prime real estate between the pool and the booth and got us some free drinks. The LES were spinning some funky stuff (actually, Ali was spinning while Mac was busy schmoozing). Some more reinforcements showed up and the party got into full swing. Infusion took over and the energy shot through the roof (well, not really since there was no roof...but it shot straight up visibly). I'd been dying to see these guys for quite a while now having missed both of their recent area appearances. I was simply blown away by the show they put on. Infusion elevated electronic music to a true art form. It's one thing to spin records or drag loops onto a grid on your Mac. It's another to perform live using nothing more than synths, pads and effects boxes. These guys actually broke a sweat. With every track (song, technically), the crowd got more and more into it. I just stood there listening in disbelief at how good these guys were.
After Infusion finished up, it got rather chilly and I decided to go check out the gear inside and then go back to the hotel to put something warmer on. When Royce Haven and I returned to the Ritz, we ran into Jaimie (from Infusion) and chatted for a bit. Really cool guy who's really into what he does. Can't wait for their new album! By the time we made it back to the pool, Grayarea was on. I had also been waiting forever to see these guys. They didn't disappoint. Unfortunately, Infusion is a tough act to follow for another live electronic act. Infusion took a bit of the wind out of Grayarea's sails. Had they not followed Infusion, Grayarea's performance would have likely impressed the crowd more. Infusion kicked everyone's asses. Grayarea put on an excellent show nevertheless. By then, it was getting even colder and we decided to head back while Lust-E stuck around for JunkieXL.
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Back at the hotel, my fellow techno aficionados were giddy with anticipation. The Blue Bookings party at Privilege was to feature not only the undisputed master of all things techno, Chris Liebing but Dero, Gaetano Parision, Marco Corola and a slew of others. I did my best to drum up interest from the techno-uninitiated. Most of the Groovanauts seemed hell-bent on going to the Zabiela/Burridge party instead. They just didn't understand! Fortunately, Smizzal, Annie9531 and Lust-E decided they'd try something new and came along with the GN techno crew. After getting hooked up by Pete from Privilege, we walked in early onto a relatively empty main floor. We walked around as the club started to fill up. Parisio and Corola threw down enough sick beats to get our new techno initiates grooving. We walked upstairs to DJ Dero spinning one of the best sets I'd heard throughout the whole conference to a nearly empty room. We made ourselves at home on the couches and before long, Smizzal, Metro and Overseas were dancing like there's no tomorrow. Lust-E just laid there listening, blown away by how good techno could be. Looks like we were about to get us some tehno converts. By the end of Dero's set, we were all techno-lovers.
Now that everyone was on the same page, we went back downstairs and found us a spot in time for Chris Liebing to take over. The main floor was full by this point and the crowd was getting down. I text messaged prplhz to rescue her from the Zabs/Burridge party. She showed up with tiny butterfly in tow just in time. When Liebing took the decks, beaming with his trademark grin, the crowd went ballistic. With the exception our several techno neophytes, everyone else knew exactly what to expect. Chris was relentless. This man brings soul to techno. We were all jumping around like our shoes were on fire. Some German guys were doing the shranz dance. I looked over at tiny only to see her perched atop a speaker pumping her fist in the air with an angry German techno face on. Priceless. Got us another techno convert. Anyone whose techno is good enough to make tiny do that MUST be good. Liebing's mixing was sick. His use of effects like the phaser sent the crowd into a tizzy. Then that thick bass line kicked in! "Seven Nation Army!" I had been raving about his version of this track ever since the Love Parade last July. Now, everyone who wasn't there understood what I was talking about. Just when the energy peaked higher than one could ever imagine, the music stopped. That's the problem with techno parties: they're over before you know it and usually right at their apex.
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We walked out onto the street in disbelief that the party flew by so quickly. We were all amped up and ready to go to the next party. The only decent afterhours we had heard of that night was John Creamer at Cafeteria. Anyone who had seen Creamer before was a bit skeptical about the prospect of following a night of banging techno with mind-numbingly boring dark progressive. Since our choices were limited, we decided to check it out before wasting more money at Space. We walked over to the back of Cafeteria, a Lincoln Rd. restaurant by day and got in line. We were in before we knew it. The place was essentially a large bar in a separate room in the back of the restaurant. The place was packed with partiers and Creamer was blaring expectedly boring prog from, get this, a Phazon system. We found us a dark corner and decided to make do. Before long, a guy sat down next to us with a set of bongos and started drumming along. Creamer's boring, slash-your-wrists, prog house suddenly turned into funky tribal prog house. The crowd woke right up.
I was dancing up a storm joined by a rotating roster of Groovanauts from the nearby bench. A train of people were walking past us to a curtained booth in the back that was reminiscent of the Tunnel drug booths of yore. The party was quickly picking up into one of the coolest parties of the conference. Just when things were getting good, the bongo boy left his bongos and took off. Somehow, I wound up being the bongo valet and watching them for the next few hours along with various other articles of clothing people would drop off. I should have started charging and handing out claim tickets. Sans bongo accompaniment, Creamer got rather boring again. Most of the Groovers bowed out one by one. Krystle popped in after spending the weekend in jail and kept me company bouncing around till she had to leave for the airport around 10:30am. I probably would have stayed longer if I didn't decide to walk her out. One of the coolest things about Cafeteria was walking out of the back room and through a restaurant full of unsuspecting diners. People were enjoying their croissants and morning coffee unaware that there was a room full of dancing crackheads in the back.
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I walked back to the hotel and spent the day shlepping around. Sleep was the farthest thing from my mind. Before I knew it, the day flew by and it was dark again. I still have no recollection of where the time went. I remember eating a falafel. A bunch of us decided to check out James Holden and Nick Warren at Nerve. Holden is a brilliant producer and having missed his last few sets in the area, I couldn't wait to check him out. We walked into a nearly empty Nerve and found us some spots to call home. Both Jon Cowan and Oliver Molden spun solid sets to prep the crowd for Holden and Warren. Before long, the club filled up and Holden took the decks. He started out with some signature chill tracks. He followed up with some more chill tracks. The smoke machine was in full effect. Good thing Holden had more chill tracks in his bag. Before long, all that chill out music was finally curing my sleeplessness. I wasn't alone. I think I remember some patrons dozing off in the corners. For all of his production skills, James still has a thing or two to learn about DJing. People come to a club to dance, not chill out. Save the chill out music for the beach. Spin something danceable in a club. The reason why other DJs like Sasha can spin a Holden track and have people dance to it is because the track is inserted between other danceable tracks that keep the momentum going. Popping in a Holden's Greatest Hits CD is dancer kryptonite.
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Before I passed out in some dark corner, I decided to split for Tantra to check out Dr. Kucho. My partners in crime, Royce Haven and Lust-E decided to join me. For those of you who haven't been to Tantra, it is one sexy place. Girls spread their legs when they walk through the door. We met up with Kucho and the rest of the GN crew that we'd been missing the entire conference because they had been partying in a parallel universe. Eventually, Kucho hopped on the decks and spun one of the coolest, if shortest sets of the conference. That "Another Brick in the Wall" remix was out of this world! As Kucho was spinning, some guy who acted like he ran the place kept jumping in the booth and fucking around with Kucho, screwing up the EQs. By the end of the night, we were all so pissed that we were about to jump the guy and beat him into the grass floor. After Kucho finished his set, we apologized to him for the shitty treatment he'd received and offered to open up a can of whoopass on Tantra's manager for messing him up. Turns out that the guy wasn't Tantra's manager but actually Kucho's own agent, who was drunker than Kucho had ever seen. He was just fucking around and Kucho wasn't even upset. We all had a good laugh and decided to let the guy live to drink another mojito.
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After we wrapped up Tantra, a bunch of us went looking for an afterparty. We decided to check out Tenaglia's party on Lincoln Rd. We got there just as the party ended. It was 5am. WTF! Having had such a great time at Cafeteria the previous day, we walked over to see who was spinning there. Apparently, it was DJ Nobody. There was no party out back. I walked in and asked the manager what time afterhours was about to start. He informed me that there was no afterhours anymore. People were actually there for breakfast. All cracked out and nowhere to go. We decided to say our goodbyes and I walked back to the hotel.
After a few hours of much needed sleep, I decided that my sunburn had healed enough to go out into the sun again. Living like a vampire all week did wonders for healing the skin. I spent the day strolling around with Lust-E discussing how after all this electronic music and clubbing, we should hit up some of the old-school college bar hangouts and listen to some rock music. Eventually, we met up with the remaining Groovanauts and wound up at Wet Willie's again. This time, we decided to get absolutely sauced. Alcohol was the one intoxicant that most of us hadn't abused yet this whole trip. Needless to say, at 153 proof, little time passed before the craziness ensued. I think we showed the young college kids there how to party. Girls were groping and kissing, rolling round on the floor. Butts got spanked and bitten. Other stuff happened too.
Groovers paired off and left for the hotel to spend some "quality time" together. Lust-E was on a mission to get some as well. He struck up a conversation with some girls sitting at a table next to ours. I joined in as Wingman Extraordinaire to help him out. While the girls were not my type, Greg was enjoying himself. A few more booze slurpies later, the girls got crazy and pulled us towards the Clevelander, the "best party place on the beach" according to them. Apparently, they don't get out much. I played along and extolled the virtues of that classless, swill-flooded stank hole as part of my wingman duties. "Oh I LOVE that place! The Clevelander is SO much fun!" Before long, we were there amongst a mob of drunken, smelly, desperate college guys and slobs old enough to be their fathers. Everyone was grinding to some God-awful crud, thinking that they had reached Nirvana. The two girls we were with were as happy as pigs in shit. As soon as it was apparent that Lust-E was guaranteed some poon, I excused myself and headed back to the hotel to meet up with Metro. I deserved a fucking medal. A Purple Heart at that.
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Metro and I wound up checking out BED. The locals had finally come out of hiding and returned to SoBe clubs. Everyone was grooving around and having a good time regardless of the DJ, who was probably better suited at washing dishes than spinning records. After all of the great music we had experienced throughout the week, this was quite a stark contrast. This guy had a bag full of great records that he had been reaching into randomly. It was almost as if he copied someone's Top 10 Tracks list each week but had no idea about what order to play the records in. Every time he would stumble upon a succession of tracks that built up some energy, he'd fuck it up and send everyone crashing through the floor. I found myself wincing in disgust about every ten minutes or so. Some British girl kept grinding her ass on Metro's elbow. I guess the night wasn't a total washout.
By the next night, all of the energy that the WMC had brought to SoBe was drained. The place reverted back to ghetto-ass hip-hop and cheesy crap music. With little else going on that night and not feeling like shlepping to Space, Metro and I wound up at Privilege. Since the place was kinda empty, we decided to try somewhere else. Just as we were walking out, a girl that worked there grabbed us and begged us to stay. She then proceeded to hook us up with drinks. Neither of us being the type to turn down drinks and pretty girls, we decided to hang out for a while. Chris, the owner was spinning a surprisingly decent set. We bopped around for a while and Metro decided he had to leave to fulfill a certain mission. I stuck around doing some more boozing and dancing around with Anna, my newfound friend. As the party was about to end, we decided to check out afterhours downtown. Since Anna was an employee, she had to stay at Privilege after closing and wait for all the staff to wrap up. I hung around with her and the rest of the staff for a while. By the time we were ready to head to afterhours, I was sober enough to listen to that little voice of reason in my head. I was to meet my grandmother for brunch later on. Afterhours might not have been such a bright idea. So, I bid Anna farewell and left for grandma's.
Before I knew it, I was back up north. All good things must come to an end. I honestly had more fun this year than at any previous WMC. The Groovanauts I was with made the whole experience more fun than even my trip to Ibiza a few years back. Good company makes all the difference in the world. I can't wait till WMC 2005! Anyone who missed it this year better start saving money and freeing up your schedule. If you have the chance of going next year and don't, you need to have your head examined.
2004 Winter Music Conference Pictures
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