Following the end of Lee Burridge at BED in South Beach it was off to Downtown Miami for an afterhours lesson of the Pawn Shop 101:Sunday School for Degenerates variety. Backed by the NYC Robots: Dennis Rodgers, Bill Patrick and Nick AC, who had just flown in from New York, Burridge continued on from where he'd left off, this time in the dark back room of the Pawn Shop. The Robots crew also quickly got into top form, working with Lee as the approaching dawn signalled the arrival of a new day.
Patrick and Phillip from M.A.N.D.Y 'got physical' for their 2-hour sunrise set (which sadly seemed to pass all too quickly) in the packed terrace-like outdoor carpark. The pair had the place moving but could have really used an additional 2 hours to give them ample time to shine.
Despite the great music emanating from the truck pit and the back room, the shining sun and clear blue sky meant it was a day to be enjoyed outdoors and this was the centre of most of the action. As Loco Dice commenced his stint on the decks, he was swiftly surrounded by two familiar figures: Richie Hawtin and Lucien n Luciano, before luring the sea of sunburnt souls from out of the slim line of shade that graced the left side of the dancefloor.
Luciano then gave the Americans a near religious lesson in tribal minimal weirdness from the Book of Luciano while donning a pink trucker hat which would have been equally appropriate in the main room DJ booth.
Those that turned up late, cheating the all-night all-day experience, possessed an energy that the rest of us struggled to maintain but despite the hard yards trekked, the crowd was in good form. There was a great vibe and an excellent crowd who were very much appreciative of what was easily the most in form group of DJs spinning at this year's WMC.
As the Pawn Shop prepared to close its doors, Sasha & John Digweed were getting ready to skipper the 380-capacity Biscayne Lady for an early evening boat cruise. Joined by Desyn Masiello, his upfront, booty shaking house was a great accompaniment to the slowly setting sun on the top deck.
Industry players, DJs and die-hard fans (fortunate enough and willing to shell out US$100 for a limited number of tickets which sold out within an hour) mingled on the decks, loosened by the US$1 drinks - a stunning contrast to the $US10-14 price for a vodka tonic on South Beach - and some of the best canapés ever seen at the Miami WMC.
With twilight fast approaching it was time for Sasha and John Digweed to take control and add some groove to the waterways of Miami. The pair kept busy with a range of house and deep basslines switching between Sasha’s Maven in one corner and John’s CDJs in the other, as the hull of the Lady rocked from Starboard to Port and back again.
The sanctuary of the boat allowed everyone with roles and responsibilities on land to properly let their hair down and party to two of the most experienced DJs in the business; John Digweed firmly pointing the finger at Sasha when he dropped the latest Junkie XL remix of Coldplay’s 'Talk'. Musically it was good, party wise it was fun and location wise it couldn’t have been better!
The party however, that had many people moaning (both on and off the boat) due to a lack of tickets, and those who did, talking it up like it was going to be something musically special (when all they really wanted to do was hang out with the models), was Red Bull’s annual soiree, this time at the Versace Mansion.
Kicking off at 9pm, with an ‘arrive early to avoid disappointment’ advance warning, RA pulled out the iron for the first (and only) time in conference week and got to work on our collared shirts and party frocks. Our arrival was of course, oh so fashionably late, and greeted by a hoard of random blaggers at the entrance claiming to know someone who knew someone who ran something to deaf ears. Not only did you need to have dog tags but you had to be on the list. There was to be no success for even the most skilled blaggers at this one.
A crowd of models, wannabes, actors, musicians and hooked up industry mingled around the water feature and inner courtyard of the now privately-owned mansion, in one of Ocean Drive's swankiest neighbourhoods, fuelled on Vodka and Red Bull.
The early sounds provided by The Glimmers were perfectly suited to the surroundings. On the other hand, Vitalic’s live performance of driving techno went largely unappreciated - and if anything, seemed to trigger complaint - from the musically uneducated and ignorant. Far more suited to a Sunday after party in East London, the timing of his set before Felix Da Housecat was anything but ideal.
A short break of silence signalled the arrival of a new sound as Felix Da Housecat tried to re-align the musical direction of the evening with his usual electro muscle. His mixing was poor (blame the vodka, blame the equipment, blame the DJ… who knows) but from that point onwards the night seemed to tail off. The 2am finishing time and various stops and starts in the music meant the party was very much on the downward slopes post midnight.
On the whole, it was fun to get it on with an array of open bars in the stunning surrounds of the Versace mansion. But just as one party approached its end another was only just beginning, and so it was time for us to head to one of Miami's most talked about parties.
The shift of the Danny Howells all night extravaganza to the newly rejuvenated and managed Pawn Shop, (having outgrown its traditional home at BED and the limitations of South Beach licensing hours) had been the subject of many pre-conference conversations. Eager to see if the change in surroundings would harm the vibe of one of the most outstanding conference parties, RA donned its loudest shirt and entered the seedy Pawn Shop, willing to hock our most prized possessions in an effort to stay all night.
In the driver's seat, Howells rolled out his usual wide range of quality grooves that have made his Miami parties infamous. As in previous years many of his peers turned out in force and stayed well into the morning, including Satoshi Tomiie and John Digweed, who no doubt gave Howells a quick lesson in how to use the horn.
Come morning, it was left to the Howells faithful to enjoy the intense, driving, explosive and unrelenting techno finish that has become synonymous with the Howells in Miami experience as seamlessly mixed Detroit, German and UK techno and deadly basslines that threatened to damage our inner organs provided the soundscape to Howells first ever Pawn Shop finale.
Destroyed on the inside, smiling on the outside and bewildered as to how he turns it on each year we left the Pawn Shop for the sanctuary of our South Beach condo and the possibility of ‘some’ sleep.
WMC Photos - March 26 – Sunday
Pawn Shop 101: Sunday School for Degenerates at The Pawn Shop
Sasha & Digweed Boat Party from the Bayside Marina
Red Bull presents Love and Good Times at Versace Mansion
ROCKIT at Onda Lounge
Gabriel & Dresden / Scarlett Etienne at BED
Made in Italy/Ibiza at Segafredo Cafe