Robbie Rivera is one of Miami's many DJ success stories. The Puerto Rican-born artist moved to the Magic City in 1992, began attending the Winter Music Conference in 1998, and now his annual Juicy Beach party at Nikki Beach is one of the top events of the week each year, drawing 7,500 people. Catch him Thursday at Nikki Beach, Friday at the National Hotel pool party and Saturday at Ultra, performing standards and new tracks from his album "Closer to the Sun."
What are some of your fondest memories from WMC?
Let's see - one was playing at the BBC Radio 1 party with Pete Tong and Danny Rampling at Nikki Beach years ago. I remember hanging out there with all the top DJs - Frankie Knuckles, Todd Terry - that was an amazing party. And that was back when you could blast the music at Nikki Beach because there were no buildings next to it.
Are you breaking out anything new this year?
Yes, I'll be playing new versions of a lot of my hits that my fans always ask me to play. I'm producing brand new mixes to shock the people a bit. And nobody's gonna have them - just me.
Will you have time to check out other DJs' shows?
I think I'm gonna go Wednesday and check out my friend George Acosta's party at Opium, and Friday I'm gonna be playing with Oscar G, so I'll check him out as well, and Ultra, I'll be playing with so many DJs I like, so...
Do you think the conference is as important today as it used to be?
It's not like it used to be, where we'd all go out and hang out at the Fontainebleau and meet at the main lobby bar and talk about business and actually make money. I used to make a lot of money during the conference, music-wise, with the labels. Now, that doesn't really happen that much - now it's all about the parties and the DJs bringing their brand new music that they wanna promote.
Do you think Miami is still the best city for WMC?
Oh, definitely, definitely by far, because you have so many clubs and the beach and the restaurants - it's the best place to do it.