By Steve Brennan
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By New Times Staff
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The Winter Music Conference (WMC) sounds like an incredible, genre-defying jam that could be conjured up only in the wildest dream state. We're entering a week packed with parties and special events, where the collective lineup of talent features everything from classic goth-rockers the Cure to the current "King of Crunk" Lil Jon, with every conceivable sort of DJ in between.
Indeed, that might not have been quite the initial vision 22 years back, when Bill Kelly and Louis Possenti founded the WMC as a considerably more-intimate networking summit for the house music community. WMC has since grown beyond its distinction as a music industry conference into a citywide sprawl of massive proportions that attracts thousands of revelers annually and contributes significantly to the coffers of local hotels and clubs. Its success has spawned both alternative and ancillary events, from challenger conference M3 (on hiatus this year) and the now-defunct massive called Global Gathering to the expanding two-day Ultra Festival (with headliners the Cure and Paul van Dyk) and the thriving Remix Hotel (where Lil Jon will hold court in the Microsoft cabana). WMC has adapted to survive; it has also survived because people aren't ready to stop the music. The event that now exists is beautifully eclectic and somehow manages to pledge inclusiveness within the exclusiveness.
One of the great opportunities that WMC brings this week is a taste of clubs from other lands. Shine at the Shelborne Beach Resort, for example, will showcase some of New York's most celebrated soulful house nights with Timmy Regisford's Shelter and Danny Krivit's 718 Sessions. Shine will also host one of San Francisco's favorite house nights, Salted, run by Miguel Migs (visit www. shinesouthbeach.com for a complete party schedule). Visitors should also note two Miami hot spots that were recently voted into DJmagazine's "Top 50 Clubs, as voted by DJs": Pawn Shop Lounge (number nine) and Space (number 14). Check out what the fuss is about and why they've rightly been dubbed world-class party spots.
There is also the chance to see a great many of the living members of what could be considered a veritable dance music hall of fame. House-music denizens are expected to flock to the 20th-anniversary party held by New York production company Def Mix, featuring its core architects Frankie Knuckles, David Morales, Satoshi Tomiie, and Hector Romero (also at Shine, on Thursday, March 22). Knuckles is often referred to as the "Godfather of House" and is usually given credit for first coming up with the genre's name. Equally respected in their related field: Detroit techno innovators Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson, who star in the Hi-Tek Soul documentary and will grace the decks at a party of the same name (Wednesday, March 21, at Nikki Beach). Most of these guys make the preponderance of their living by DJing in other countries that you may never visit, so grab 'em while you can for some unforgettable displays of skill straight from the purest of purists.
As much as WMC celebrates pioneers, it is also a massive springboard for new artists or releases or even just new twists on familiar faces as with DJ Dubfire of the iconic duo Deep Dish, who launches the solo project Taipei for the Global Underground series on Wednesday, March 21, at Mynt. This week has been known to break stars in the dance music industry. All it really takes is one great tune to ignite a buzz throughout Miami that then returns back home with international visitors to their respective lands. Who knows? This year's event might just make hipster household names out of people like flossin' Florida rhymesayer Fidel Cashflow or Detroit techno upstart Thrill Cosby (yes folks, those are real aliases).
It's that addictive feeling of excitement and unpredictability that keeps out-of-towners coming here every year and gives locals a legitimate point of musical pride. It all happens here. Enjoy it! Somehow, we don't think other "business conferences" are anywhere near as fun.