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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Miami Music Week 2015 Preview: Wednesday, March 25

While I may be forever ambivalent about Seth Troxler (this probably deserves a longer post in the future), this set turned me around on the issue of his talent — the kid’s got chops. When he’s good (read: sober enough to function?), Troxler’s sets are a lot like Dennis Ferrer’s great sets — sexy, surprising, chancy, tight, funky, and ultimately satisfying. Believe me, it pains me to say this because often in interviews he comes across as a spoiled, entitled fuck-up brodude. (Trust: watch the Seth Troxler and Martinez Brothers “Between the Beats” videos back to back and see what you think.)

Alas, I’ve come not to bury Troxler, but to praise him. This set just ROCKED MY SOCKS:

While watching this set the other evening, we resolved to go to the Fuck Jams party on Wednesday of MMW. If the set weren’t enough to persuade, the poster alone might have been. Lineup will probably include surprises but currently includes DJ Three, Harvard Bass, and Troxlers Tuskegee pals, the aforementioned Bros. Martinez. Here’s hoping he brings back in Scotsman Jackmaster (SO much more to come on Jackmaster, who is edging out Ferrer as my present favorite DJ), who played this party last year.)

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

Introductions

This is a blog primarily about house music and the various subgenres that surround it (Full disclosure: I’m not an EDM fan; I keep it close to the underground). Sometimes I may just post about whatever the hell kind of music I want, ’cause it’s my blog, nyeah.

About me: I’ve always been a “music person.” I grew up the daughter of a minister in a Christian church where music played a part in my everyday life. I sang solos and in singing groups, harmonized over hymns every Sunday, learned to play the piano (kinda). Even better, my mom loved “secular” music and played it all the time, with an incredibly eclectic selection that ranged from Neil Diamond to Lou Rawls to The Jackson 5 to Simon and Garfunkel to Billy Joel and Elton John and… you get the picture. Despite the conservative nature of the world we lived in, my parents were pretty hands-off about what I listened to. I loved the Beastie Boys. I liked Slayer. My first concert was New Edition, Bobby Brown solo, and Al B. Sure! A kid on the school bus once lent me a mix tape of FILTHY (Slick Rick! 2 Live Crew!) and hardcore rap songs, ostensibly to “freak out the preacher’s kid,” but I shocked him instead by refusing to give the tape back.

A little over a year ago, someone very special to me introduced me to what he called “good house music.” I knew he was a house music DJ, but all I really knew about house music was the crap on the background of seemingly every health club commercial on TV, and maybe “What is love? Baby, don’t hurt me…!” from the SNL skit. And, ugh, those cheesy Ultra CDs with the covers bearing fitness models in balmy climes in various states of undress, possibly mid-orgasm.

Case in point.

And of course [I thought] I hated techno. I was mostly an indie rock girl with some old school hip-hop, soul, and R&B thrown in.

What followed over weeks and then months was an amazing education — in person, over Facebook Messenger, through YouTube links, in Spotify — by an enthusiastic teacher with a very willing pupil. I soaked it up, from soulful house to Detroit (Moodymann!) to New York to Chicago and finally to that “really deep shit.” I also learned that I LOVE techno, which I now recognize as kind of the balls-out metal of electronic music. I already knew more than I had thought (New Wave wasn’t a terrible starting point) and liked more than I expected.

Osunlade may have been my gateway drug, but the clincher was going to Detroit last May for Movement. Justin Martin! DJ Sneak! Green Velvet! The Martinez Brothers! JIMMY FUCKING EDGAR! Kevin Saunderson! Carl Cox! Even, begrudgingly, Seth Troxler (more on that to come; I have a love/hate relationship with this clown). I warned my boyfriend that even if we weren’t seeing each other next year, he’d be running into me at Movement; I was hooked.

JIMMY FUCKING EDGAR
JIMMY FUCKING EDGAR

Alas, I’m not a DJ. I’m not a producer. I’m not a music promoter or label owner. But I love this music, I can write, and I have things (sometimes controversial things) to say. I’d like to highlight mixes or sets I like, maybe do some interviews with DJs, and preview/document festivals (coming up: Miami Music Week preview!).

Nice meeting you.