Like the city itself, Miami’s Winter Music Conference (aka Miami Music Week) is not for the faint of heart.
When my boyfriend Alvin initially mentioned my joining him in Miami for his sixth visit to WMC, I balked. Aside from the gorgeous Deco architecture, Miami had never much appealed to me aesthetically – I pictured it as in an 80s movie, glamorous but entirely superficial, a playground for the nouveau riche with too much cocaine and leisure time.
“C’mon,” he said, “we’ll hear some of the best house music in the world. We’ll dance for days! It’ll be great!”
Tempting but scary. See, while I love to dance and have also come to love deep house and techno music, I don’t really fit the profile for current house music – or for Miami. Its more diverse origins aside, today’s house music has fans that are mostly young, white, fit, tan, and rich. Of those, I do OK financially and am… white. Really white, like PASTY white. See?
(Aside: Male DJs are allowed to be unattractive and out of shape, but that’s another article altogether.)
After having spent the week at WMC in all its exhausting glory, I have paused to reflect on some things that may help other nontraditionally gorgeous people navigate the sometimes uncomfortable waters of Miami’s many Music Week parties and nightclubs. If you have ever wanted to go but were too afraid, take these to heart, and I’ll see you there next year.
#1 Expect the best from people…
I started the trip a little guarded and more than a little sensitive, but soon I realized I was mostly looking for slights where there weren’t any. The vast majority of people are there to have a good time and listen to some good music. Anybody who isn’t there for one of those reasons doesn’t matter.
#2 …BUT don’t be afraid to call out assholes (and/or cut a bitch, just kidding)
Within a few minutes of arriving in Miami, a twentysomething waiter made a rude comment – after having asked for my ID – about not needing to ID me for my first mojito. I shot back, “Oh, don’t be an asshole.” It caught him off guard, and he immediately and sincerely apologized. As I said before, most people don’t really intend to be jerks, and if you call them out, most will have the decency at least to retreat and STFU.
#3 Choose your parties wisely
I learned pretty quickly that the more you like the lineup at a particular party, the more the scene there will probably match your style. Case in point: the party I was most nervous about was the Pete Tong pool party at the Surfcomber. We got these tickets before any others, so we jumped the gun on a lineup that ultimately paled next to our other tickets.
After working our way through a crowd that consisted mostly of spring-breakers who couldn’t have cared less if they were seeing Duke Dumont or David Guetta, we found a spot midway through the crowd. Five minutes later, the sun-damaged, quadruple-processed blonde in front of me with ginormous fake breasts asked me in all seriousness to watch them to make sure they didn’t fall out of her straining crochet top.
This was not my party.
After the hyper-steroided Surfcomber security pointed Alvin toward the exit instead of the restrooms, thus preventing him from reentering without paying another $70, we had had it with Pete Tong. Take me back to the underground!
Thankfully, we had wisely bought tickets to some soulful house parties, where the good vibes are tangible and the demographic skews older and much more diverse. (See below: Kristel Morin at the Tambor Tribe party at Oceans Ten). Who couldn’t have a good time here?
#4 Have a home base
Find a retreat where you know you will always feel comfortable. For me, this was D’vine Hookah Lounge, where some people Alvin knew were running the music. The music is great, the crowd down to earth, the bartenders friendly and funny, and – perhaps most importantly – the mojitos strong as hell (pro tips: the regular lime mojitos are the strongest, and if you ask they will hook you up with a to-go cup!)
#5 Play to your strengths
For me, this is nearly always my sense of humor. After a few drinks at the Circoloco party, I walked through the crowd pressing a cold can of Presidente against as many brodudes’ bare backs as I could, ducking away before they saw me. This amused me (and couldn’t have been too uncomfortable for them, as it was over 90 degrees that day).
Also, I can talk music with the best of the music nerds, so this is always a safe refuge for me. If you can’t dazzle them with your bikini body, outshine them with your musical chops! Fight shallow with depth! Fight stupid with smarts!
#6 Above all, HAVE FUN your way.
Never forget these words from Anne Lamott.
Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.
I am choosing to live my life this way, to push myself into places and situations in which I may not feel comfortable, to live a full and interesting life. I don’t want to wake up one day regretting what I haven’t done, and now I can cross Miami off my list of things I haven’t tried. See you next year!
Next stop: Ibiza! 🙂