A Reflection on Miami Music Week: Six Tips for the Nontraditionally Beautiful to Survive and Thrive in Miami

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!)

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#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! 🙂

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Riva Starr Is a BEAST on the Decks

It’s cramming time for Miami!

I’m the kind of person who likes to be prepared, so I’ve been doing a lot of set- and track-listening over the past couple weeks. It’s fun to take a flyer for a show and go through the DJs one by one to get a feel for what the entire show might be like (What? You don’t cram for parties?! Yes, I’m a house music nerd).

Snatch! Records party at Hush. It’s fun to say “I’m going to the Snatch Party at Hush.”

I had mentioned before that I’m excited about this party. Until last night, I had heard a bunch of Riva Starr’s tracks but never a set. I am happy to say that this bald-headed Italian is incredible live, rocking mostly tech house and really deep stuff. In case you’re as excited as I am (or want to be), below is the fantastic set we watched.

Also in this lineup is Ninetoes, who rocks a tribal and otherwise very eclectic set. Take a look:

Miami Music Week 2015 Preview: Friday, March 27

Alvin and I watched a video of last year’s Pete Tong pool party, and it was a little, um, white girl bikini babe for me, so the day after will be perfect for something a LOT more soulful and laid-back:

Marques Wyatt (see below) absolutely KILLED IT last year at Movement, and this is a fantastic soulful lineup to change things up a little.

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Marques Wyatt KILLING IT at Movement 2014

Miami Music Week 2015 Preview: Thursday, March 26

Thursday is jam-packed with parties. We’ll start with the Pete Tong pool party at the Surfcomber.

This is the lineup thus far, though I suspect Pete has some more aces up his sleeve.

[Note: Below is edited from the original post, because I accidentally posted a Friday party on Thursday.]

Thursday evening, with any luck after a disco nap and maybe a bite from La Sandwicherie, we will head to the Snatch Records party (we can’t say this without giggling every time) at Hush.   

This was one of the earliest parties we got tickets to. The lineup is great all around, but neither Alvin nor I had ever seen Italy’s Riva Starr. (There’s more here, as usual, on Resident Advisor.) My favorite track is the one below; you may have heard it around (and if you haven’t, you SURELY will at WMC or somewhere this summer, as it’s what they call a BANGER, my friends).