Business cards were traded like baseball cards this past week in South Beach.
Dance music too.
Winter Music Conference may seem like a misnomer to many, due to its Sunshine State stomping grounds, but Colorado Conference goers were nearly cock blocked by Old Man Winter for the second year in a row. Denver was blanketed in a solid foot of snow when I left; Miami’s umpteenth annual mixologist mixer was on fire when I arrived. Beat dieters from around the world had rendezvoused en masse for seven days in heaven. Superstar DJs were in abundant supply. Supermodels came out of the woodwork. And dancefloors were demolished left and right.
DJ sightings in M.I.A. during WMC are as common as prostitots at a massive. Although I didn’t accost him for an autograph (not really ever my style), I spied Le Castle Vania getting his Carpal Tunnel on near a baggage carousel. Loitering a few hours would’ve likely led to a handful more, but voice coach Casey Collins scooped photographer Darrin Frisby and I in no time. Once in South Beach, Collins Avenue was the site of additional sightings, including recent Toronto transplant Sydney Blu and one of Boulder’s Savoy boys.
I was wearing multiple hats as usual. Ms Easy tapped me to be an airbrushed monkey for Rabbit in the Moon’s elaborate live performance at Ultra Fest. Documenting Colorado’s presence for 303 Magazine was another obvious objective. Trading business cards and dance music was my primary M.O. though. Armed to the teeth with “Pussy” teasers and Beta Nightclub’s HomeGrown compilations, I set out to paint the town Orange.
Poring through the massive events list for hours and hours on end revealed SeaToSun/Loverush Digital’s Private Industry Cocktail party as a Wednesday winner. Hosted by four-time Grammy winning mix engineer Tom Lord-Alge (U2, Stones, Pink, Coldplay, Peter Gabriel) and DJ Times at TLA’s waterfront mansion, S2S/LRD was a tough one to pass on. Mercedes limo buses shuttled party goers from South Beach to Tom’s house, where vintage sports cars decorated his front yard. Grammys chilled unguarded on the mantel; gold and platinum records wallpapered the walls. Filet mignon, candied pecans, fresh fruit, salsa and more paraded out of the kitchen at a steady clip. Although I tend to avoid alcohol like a 9 to 5, drinks were on the house all night. And the Tiki Beach Yacht tied up in back easily doubled the square footage of the event. Music was a bit hit or miss sometimes, with Freedom Williams (C+C Music Factory), vocalist Sylvia Tosun, Christopher Lawrence’s “Mr/Mrs Smith” side project, Anton Bass, Flash Bros., Alex M.O.R.P.H., Trevor Simpson, Stefano Noferini and Sted-E & Hybrid Heights. Casey met former porn star Traci Lords; I ran into off-and-on Global Dance headliner Jes and chatted with a 21 year-old singer from Atlanta named Tiffiny Foo.
Elsewhere, Denver’s own Lea Luna is currently holding steady in Beatport’s Dubstep Top 10–was rocking Hotel Marseilles’ Beachbombing alongside Dieselboy, Virus Syndicate, Sporty O and more, while Boulder’s VJ Aeon Child was winning a VJ Challenge at Eden Roc Renaissance.
As if my excitement quota hadn’t been met for the day, I accompanied Easy to her Bomb Giggity gig later that evening at the Lily Leon. Former Easy doppelganger Jen Lasher, SF’s DJ Icon and more were on the bill, but the noise police had pissed on the pool party, forcing it to migrate indoors and downsize considerably. Appearance duties fulfilled, we party-hopped the remainder of the night, bumping into Baby Anne, Deekline, Siren and Sporty O along the way. Five Guys satisfied our late night appetites.
Breakfast and the beach. Aerial advertising pilots must’ve made a killing in Miami last week; three to five planes circled the skyline while Easy and her friend Clint (soon-to-be fellow Rabbit monkey) sucked up some Vitamin D. Club Space and some apparently forgettable single on iTunes were the beneficiaries of said marketing. Given that I’m trying to maintain my currently trendy vampiric complexion, I exited stage left, where I was soon surrounded by a gaggle of Amp promo girls. Energy drinks aren’t normally my cup of tea, but in the interest of staying hydrated, I tried the orange variety of Amp’s new energy/juice hybrid.
Get Physical’s Beach Party, co-presented by Rhythmism.com and Pacha NYC, was next up on my funk agenda. M.A.N.D.Y., Damian Lazarus, Matthew Dear, Jesse Rose and DJ T were all slated to throw down at The Gansevoort. En route, I hooked up with fellow Easy team member Cherry D and her roommate at Days Inn. Gansevoort’s beach was far from crowded when we arrived, but the stage rig was immensely impressive. We soon learned that it belonged to our Beatport buddies from Denver (LA’s Insomniac crew too), who would be utilizing it for the rest of the weekend, and that Get Physical had simply gotten permission to borrow it until then. Score. The only thing missing IMO? A scrolling LED screen that ID’d each track as it was dropped. I heard somebody (Jesse Rose?) play one called “Stuck to You” that I’d love to have in my personal stash. Mad love to Shafia, one of the Gansevoort’s VIP peons, and Sarai, a Pacha Miami dancer, for keeping things interesting when Cherry and her roomie ditched me for Bring on the Beats.
Parties with colors in their names dominated that night’s itinerary. Cherry was bound for The Blue Collar Party with Justin Martin, Christian Martin, Konrad Black and Audiojack at the Electric Pickle and PJ Stroller and I were headed for Sydney Blu’s Blu Party at Aerobar. Blu is a Toronto native who’s fast establishing herself as one of the premiere female DJs on the planet. She used to twiddle knobs with Deadmau5, but has since proven she doesn’t need to ride his coattails to make waves in the industry. They both still run with the same crowd, though, as evidenced by her Aerobar lineup featuring frequent Deadmau5 collaborator Steve Duda, triple-threat MC Flipside: currently in Beatport’s Top 10–and Beatport’s American Content Manager/Club Vinyl resident Sir Thomas. Beatport’s Scott Paradis and Funkagenda were also on hand. Blu is a true pleasure to witness at the helm, as it’s very obvious she’s having a grand time getting us off. Flipside is not only a phenomenally talented emcee, he’s got excellent taste in beats. The portion of his second room DJ set that I caught was on point.
Friday was completely consumed by the Rabbit circus. Although the actual show didn’t go down until 11 p.m., dancer rehearsal and monkey painting happened off-site earlier that afternoon. Steve “You’re gonna love my nuts” Porter was apparently standing by for an interview, but I was forced to prioritize. Choosing to hang out with a bunch of half naked girls is rarely (if ever) a regrettable decision. Plus, in addition to Cherry, Easy’s WMC team included ex-Denverites KT (Pacha NYC) and Cynthia (NY’s Sotu Productions). I have known both girls for nearly ten years now and was tickled pink to work with them. Ishe’s RITM re-rub soundtracked a portion of our reunion.
Wildchild was our monkey boss. An uber-creative Florida-based performance artist and costumer, he was assigned with the task of assembling our monkey suits (though airbrush makeup would make up the majority). Years of experience as a singing gorilla had more than prepared me for the role but Clint was a virtual virgin when it came to the stage, so we monkeyed around some until the Wild one arrived. Troy, a Miami-based body painter, was hired to fire the airbrush gun. “Abs by Troy” was his repeatedly stated specialty. Faux six packs quickly became a popular commodity among both monkeys and dancers.
When Wildchild finally arrived, he had a gorgeous Russian contortionist named Irina Kazakova in tow. A couple of ballerinas were originally scheduled to interpret a certain introspective number in the set list, but when Bunny saw what Irina could do with an over-sized fabric Slinky of sorts, the as-yet-unseen ballerina act was axed on the spot. I’ve personally witnessed a number of contortionists perform over the years, including those in full-fledged Cirque du Soleil productions, and I can say with certainty I’ve never seen any of them do exactly what Irina did. The entire Rabbit entourage was in awe. Nikki Beach, where Irina and Wildchild were slated to perform just before Ultra, would undoubtedly be wowed as well.
Showtime was quickly approaching. Van number one left for the festival grounds, but Troy wasn’t finished with my monkey physique yet. Bunny and his buddies were on deck. Jila, a longtime Rabbit staple, wasn’t exactly satisfied with her Avatar-inspired indigo skin, and began adding a top layer of silver glitter to the mix (even contracting my assistance once I was complete). I eventually cracked open a banana to quell my hunger, without immediately realizing the comedic value of my decision. Van number two soon whisked the rest of us to Bicentennial Park, the festival site. Unfortunately, we would end up missing Fort Collins’ pride and joy Pretty Lights, as well as Bassnectar’s sweaty set at the Root Society dome.
Backstage trailers were abuzz with final show preparations. Dancers shimmied into their lingerie while Rabbit’s core posse pow wowed next door. Clint and I twiddled our thumbs, as we were still waiting for Wildchild to arrive with our chimp accessories. Team Easy eventually hoofed it directly backstage to run through choreography. Saying that Clint and I were getting nervous is an understatement. Sunny, RITM Production Manager, got less and less sunny as the minutes ticked away.
“WE NEED MONKEYS NOW!”
We were originally supposed to help distribute 3-D glasses to audience members (so the 3-D visuals wouldn’t be lost on them), but climbing into our faux fur before the first track dropped took precedence. Wildchild was apparently sprinting across the grounds like a wild Banshee.
I finally spotted Wildchild trotting in our general direction and beamed him into the trailer. Wigs, faux fur shorts, cuffs, rubber ears, hands and feet were yanked from his suitcase in a panicked frenzy. Although I’ve occasionally been accused of being anorexic, my shorts were somehow too small, requiring they be hurriedly disassembled to salvage fur–which was then safety pinned directly to my underwear. Four minutes before showtime, we bolted out the door towards the side stage stairs.
Chaos behind us, the show went off without a hitch. Thousands of screaming fans roared their approval. Bunny placated autograph hounds afterward. Easy and a couple others trekked to Future Sound of Breaks–where Velcro City Records’ DJ MLE was on the bill–at 3:30 in the a.m., but my body begged me to call it a night.