By Ashley Zimmerman
By Dana Krangel
By John Hood
By Ashley Zimmerman
By David Von Bader
By Sayre Berman
By Steve Brennan
By Ashley Zimmerman
Champagne buckets glistened beneath a full moon on the upper terrace of Pure, a South Beach hideout for has-beens, as break dancers popped, locked, and spun in the green and purple glow of electroluminescence. It was the nether region between Saturday night and Sunday morning, and Felix Da Housecat was providing the beats. In the hours following the "Ultra Music Festival" -- the official kickoff party for this year's 16th-annual "Winter Music Conference" -- P. Diddy, Naomi Campbell, and former Motley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee (the latter fresh from his "live" DJ set at Ultra) shared a VIP couch. Posters everywhere announced the proceedings, which were in honor of "Divided Soul, a Sean P. Diddy Combs Project."
That was one side of WMC. The other was embodied by Zoltan, a rotund, 27-year-old waiter from Miami who said he "got dragged down here by a friend." Standing around outside the Riande Hotel, looking agitated while the aforementioned friend jabbered into a mobile phone about "tricked-out house beats," Zoltan held forth on the future of electronic dance music. He wore a blue polo shirt and khaki cargo pants, conservative compared to men strutting past in snakeskin pants and mesh tanks or the woman sliding into a bumble-bee-yellow stretch Hummer, wearing what can only be described as a "naughty milkmaid" outfit: a traditional corset and Dutch-style hat, paired with neon-green stiletto boots, a red latex skirt, and fishnets. To Zoltan, she looked like just one more naked empress.
"I just don't understand why all these people would come down here to watch some guy who doesn't even speak English put a piece of wax on a turntable. And people go nuts! Why? Mark my word, electronic music is so over. In six months or so, no one will even admit having liked it."
The word of Zoltan is duly marked, yet this year, glittering hordes of 72-hour party people were out in force throughout the weekend. Enjoy our album of snapshots from the best bacchanals and debacles from the first three days and nights of WMC 2004. Let's get retarded in here.
Grand theft golf cart
It is half past midnight, and a golf cart has just crashed into a palm tree, sending DJ Junior Sanchez and Najib Estefan flying. Estefan, bleeding profusely from his lip, gets to his feet, spits blood, then berates the driver, a security guard hired by Ultra. Sanchez also starts going off, and within seconds, six more Ultra guards rush to defend the cart driver from the outraged celebrities. Sanchez is shoved hard. He yells back, "Touch me again, motherfucker, and I'll sue your ass!" And then, pointing to Gloria and Emelia Estefan's son, "Do you know who this guy is?" The two DJs then pick up their record crates and stalk off. A New Times writer approaches Estefan, offers him a business card, and asks, "What happened?" Estefan takes the card, wipes his bloody mouth with it, then holds it up, smeared with crimson. "This is what happened," he says.
The Red Bull-sponsored Ultra Music Festival afterparty in a mansion on North Venetian Drive was a sore subject for the little old man who lived next door. "What's going on over there?" he asked each person as he or she entered. "Get that car off of my grass. I'm going to call the cops." He was ignored by each of the 100-odd entrants, except for one lollipop-sucking lovely who tried to persuade him to party with her. Inside was a sanctuary from the structured, velvet-roped-off clubs and hotels. Requiring a coveted chrome dog tag to gain admittance, this opulent get-together had less to do with showcasing new music and more to do with flaunting the ingredients of a heavenly bash: naked women in a pool, free alcohol (and Red Bull), and luscious house by dancer-friendly DJs Gaetan and Duncan Ross. Most of the ladies were models hovering around six feet; at least half of the fellas lied about their occupations (so many record producers, so many superstar DJs) in hopes of extended conversations with these beauties. In the privacy of this fat crib right on the water, the swaying, smiling guests really let loose, and bathrooms were tied up for hours at a time. As for the old man, he never called the cops, but every little while, he'd turn on the light in his home and stand at the window with a less-than-impressed expression. Everyone finally went home early. At 10 in the morning, that is.
Come on and ride it
Organized by New York DJ Tommie Sunshine, sponsored by Krispy Kreme, and touted as one of the few "nonelectronic" events at WMC, "Krispy Karaoke" takes place Sunday at the Studio, a tiny bar located in the balmy basement of the Shelborne Hotel on Collins Avenue.
At roughly 9 p.m., John Selway, a slim man in jeans, a thin blue T-shirt, and aviator sunglasses, tears through a sexified rendition of Ginuwine's booty classic "Pony," complete with backup dancers. Then, Sunshine, a tall, friendly guy and dead ringer for Jeff Bridges as "The Dude" in the Big Lebowski, takes over with "Humpty Dance." Sunshine then calls several audience members on-stage, including Casey Spooner of Fischerspooner and Jake Shears of the Scissor Sisters, to do an almost tear-jerking rendition of "We Are the World." Spooner, dressed in a white suit that is part Miami Viceand part Bogart Sam Spade, tops off the sugar and booze-fueled happenings with a totally Sprocket-esque version of George Michael's "I Want Your Sex."