By KiMMusic executives, DJs and partiers from far and wide converged in Miami at the end of March for Miami Music Week – the weeklong mash up of Winter Music Conference and Ultra Music Festival. Days full of pool parties, exhibitions, and networking events preceded evenings full of wonderful dinners and late nights at the clubs. Back to one weekend this year after two weekends in 2013, Ultra was the cherry on top of a music, partying and sun-filled week. MMW had its highs and lows – this year, the lows seemed lower and the highs seemed higher. Here are a few of the highest highs and lowest lows:
Parties and music abounded. It is pretty hard for fun in the sun with the best dance music producers/DJs in the world to disappoint, but a few things stood out.
Finally some proper pool parties
Historically, pool parties in South Beach have paled in comparison to those in Las Vegas. Las Vegas pool parties are just bigger and better executed. This year, SoBe gave LV a run for its money.
The SLS hotel, the location of this year’s Avicii Hotel, knows a thing or two about great pool parties given their activities in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. They joined up with the global leader in all things bikinis, bottle service and beats – Ushuaia Ibiza – to create a veritable murderer’s row of pool parties. Local police and fire marshals may beg to differ, but South Beach needs more of this. Hopefully it won’t be just a once a year occurrence.
The Mansion renaissance
Not that it ever went anywhere, but Mansion has taken a back seat to LIV and Story over the past few years, buckling to corporate controlled clubs who spend big on DJ talent. The veteran club owners at Mansion, The Opium Group, spent the past few years making Mansion relevant again. From the renovation to the innovative Chippendale’s events in the early evenings, Mansion has retaken its place amongst the top echelon of Miami nightlife.
During Winter Music Conference, they really stepped up their game with great programming featuring Above & Beyond, Zedd, Hardwell, Skrillex and Afrojack. Importantly, the club had a great vibe with a really efficient door. Whether you had a VIP table or a general admission ticket, the door people treated you with respect and got you in quickly.
Adore had its grand opening during Winter Music Conference. It is a great addition to the South Beach scene. It has a very Las Vegas feel: an organized door, plentiful tables and a booming sound system. With the DJs elevated on stage playing to a ground level dance floor, and an enormous balcony overlooking the proceedings, it has a distinct theater feel. Like its cousin, XS in Las Vegas (Adore owner Cy Waits’ brother is Jesse Waits, one of the main executives behind XS), there are lots of nooks and crannies wherein to party. Two groups of friends could easily have tables in the club and never see each other.
Accidental moments of musical beauty
One of the best things about Miami Music Week is that you can randomly find yourself in the middle of musical magic. For example, sitting at lunch at the W hotel and discovering that a friend of a friend has extra bracelets for a VIP Sirius XM garden party where Armin van Buuren is doing an hour long set for 100 people.
Likewise, a random stop in at the Red Bull Guest House to see a few friends leads to a string quartet (masterfully led by Grant Windsor) playing Drake and Rafael Saadiq on one level and Giorgio Moroder spinning on another level.
Unfortunately, with the good comes the bad.
The trampling at Ultra
On the first night of the festivities, a bunch of a-hole attendees broke down a fence and, in their rush to get prime locations near the stage, trampled a poor security guard. She was near death, but managed to pull through in spite of some critical injuries. This incident along with 84 unrelated arrests has Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado looking to bar Ultra from coming back in 2015. In response, Ultra has launched a petition to help garner local support for its continuation.
DJ Injuries abound
Other grim circumstances beset Avicii, who intended for a whirlwind takeover of the SLS Hotel. During his headline performance at Ultra, he planned to debut several new tracks. Sadly though, he fell ill and had to have emergency gallbladder surgery. When the announcement came that he wasn’t able to headline the Avicii Hotel / SLS / Ushuaia pool party people literally broke down crying. Alesso did his best to fill in at the pool party, but it was clear that Avicii’s set was one of the most anticipated goings on of the week.
Avicii was not the only DJ to end up on the injured list. Stefan Engblom of Dada Life had to rush back to Sweden for emergency stomach surgery and Afrojack fell off the stage at Mansion while spraying the crowd with champagne – an occupational hazard of being a megastar DJ!
Fire marshals gone wild
Chicks dig uniforms. Chicks really dig firemen in uniform. Clearly the men of the Miami Beach Fire Department figured that out because they demonstrated their presence everywhere you looked. Pool party after pool party shuttered due to overcapacity ordinances enforced by the marshals. SLS had this issue for both the Nervo and Avicii turned Alesso parties. To the layman’s eye, neither party seemed overcrowded but the marshals took great care in “counting” heads with their little clickers. The door at the Avicii party closed for five hours and they actually had to refund people’s tickets. In fact, there were people sitting outside who had $10,000 tables reserved! Not even the uber-VIPs could escape the wrath of the professional people counters.
And then this happened….
And finally this…
Dance music legend Giorgio Moroder closed out the proceedings at the Red Bull Guest House Sunday evening and it was inspirational. The 73-year-old took the EDM saturated crowd on a history ride of his career. He played all of the classics including Blondie’s “Call Me,” Donna Summers’ “I Feel Love” and “Last Dance.” Yes Moroder produced all of them. It was the perfect way to close out Miami Music Week 2014.