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WMC 09: B-Live takes us back

Bacardi B-Live WMC 09

WMC 09 - March 26

The '80s were back in full force at the Bacardi B-Live Pool Party at Blade at Fontainebleau Miami Beach.  Asymmetrical haircuts abounded, Richard Simmons shorts covered plenty of behinds, neon bikinis left and right.  A crew of boys even went as far as to bring back the high top fade, Kid 'n Play-style.  One of them was rocking a Gumby, the lopsided high top that imitates the noggin of our favorite little green ball of clay.

There was plenty of crack, just like in the '80s, but not the kind you're thinking of.  The crack at this party was peeking over the tops of the models' miniscule bikini bottoms.

All this reminiscing gets you thirsty, so Bacardi was taking care of everyone with mojitos, daiquiris, Cuba Libres and a specialty bar where the mixologist asked us, "If you could go on vacation right now, where would you want to go?"  My co-worker said "Puerto Rico", so that was an easy one.  The mixologist came back with a fresh concoction filled with lemon juice, ginger beer, mint and, of course, Bacardi. 

She should have faked him out and said something like Detroit or Albuquerque.  (I wonder what Detroit would taste like in cocktail form? Actually, no, I don't.)

So while we are sipping on our Puerto Rico-inspired beverages, who do we spot but the ultimate '80s DJ, DJ Jazzy Jeff, off in his VIP corral.  He looked just like he did when I would see him as Will's irresponsible, yet lovable friend on "The Fresh Prince." We missed his set and I couldn't get over it the rest of the evening.  

Watching this model's pasties fall off didn't even make it better.

WMC 09: Simple surprises

Paul Van Dyk WMC 09

WMC 09 - March 26

A few events Thursday perfectly summed up the essence of what Winter Music Conference should be:

At the Raleigh Hotel in Miami Beach, the Armani Exchange Sirius XM Penthouse party was a classy, energetic but elegant bash with cutting-edge beats, tasty hors d'oeuvres passed around (potato puffs!), and free Fiji bottled water, Heineken and Belvedere vodka drinks. German electronic dance music legend Paul van Dyk (he hates it when you call his music "trance," but that's really the closest explanation) kicked things off with a fairly chilled-out set, at least compared to the main-room mania he inspires at his favorite big-club haunts like Space.

Afterward, a young, blonde DJ from L.A. named Yvonne Black (nope, we've never heard of her, either) absolutely slayed everyone with filthy tech, tribal and progressive house beats, including the coolest dance version of R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion" imaginable. Patrons including celebrity DJs Tracy Young and Paul Oakenfold comfortably migrated from the outdoor rooftop -- which overlooked the Raleigh pool, the ocean beyond that, and the crazies hopped up on goofballs at the Shelborne pool next door -- to the intimate but not-too-packed indoor bar area. An incredibly cool scene.

The Remix Hotel, normally known as the National a couple doors to the south, was almost as fantastic (open bar would have helped, though $7 per beer is far from outrageous by SoBe standards). The DJ (couldn't tell who he was, but he looked similar to our beloved local hero Ivano Bellini because of the lack of hair) commanded a huge stage out back beyond the pool, with mesmerizing visuals on the 20-foot video screen behind him. His mixes - best was a thumping version of "Funky Town" - reverberated behind the stage throughout the walkway all the way back to the hotel, creating a happy cacophony that had the whole area buzzing.

On Lincoln Road at Lenox Avenue, the music outside Segafredo cafe created constant, spontaneous, joyful dancing by people passing by. A DJ spun jazzy, soulful beats while a live trumpet player provided some tasty improv during the breaks in the vocals, jamming among the dancers, who ranged in age from 3 to probably 83 (one elderly gentleman was really getting his groove on with an undulating young woman).

If the megaclubs and their obscene cover charges (if you can get the doorman to look your way) and thousand-dollar table service turn you off, seek out scenes like these.  

Just walk around town, to the SoBe hotels or up and down Lincoln Road - you never know what you'll find.

-- MICHAEL HAMERSLY

WMC 09: Some talent with your coffee?

Ben Watt DJ

WMC 09 – March 25

Opening day of Winter Music Conference and I decided to hit up several spots, including the Armani lounge at the Raleigh Hotel (always a solid networking party with some good vibes – more on this later), and the Ultra Records party atop the Gansevoort South (for the first hour of this event imagine the White Room or Vagabond had the roof ripped off and all their regulars were hanging poolside, grooving in their neon 80s fashions.)

Then I passed by the Shelborne Pool Party, which we captured in all its glory in a previous blog post. But it was the Café Bustelo store at the Gansevoort South later that night that provided the best find! There, spinning for just over a dozen people, was DJ Ben Watt, noted for his Deep House chill grooves and for being one-half of the duo Everything But The Girl. (Remember the song Missing from 1995 – that’s him!)

As he played from 8 – 11 p.m., just a handful of fans gathered and had some coffee or water and just sat back and relaxed and enjoyed the vibe. Now I have to admit I didn’t know too much about Ben Watt, and CoolGirl had to pull him up on Facebook to verify that it was really him, but as Roberto told me, “Imagine if in 10 years Tiesto was playing here. That’s how big this guy is, and how amazing that he is playing right here!”

As he played, people streamed by on their way to the hotel rooftop or the nightclub Louis. They would look in and see a DJ playing, surprised a coffee shop would get into the WMC act. But no one stopped, and probably didn’t have an idea of the talent that was spinning.

Watt, from London, said he arrived in Miami today, and wanted something to do when he got off the plane. (He’s booked to play at the Shore Club on Thursday night.) So he agreed to do the gig at the coffee store. When he finished his set (right at 11 pm sharp) he got a standing ovation from the 13 or so people, chatted with some, took some photos, and then walked off to his hotel. No bodyguards. No public relations people. Just one guy and his laptop.

Only in Miami (during WMC).

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