WMC 2010 Better Late Than Never Saturday Recap: Get Physical's Varsity Workout at Charcoal Studios (With Photos and Video)

photo by Nicole Cussell
The evening's headliners had interesting choices in headgear.
​To view a full slideshow from this event, click here

Saturday, I took a day of rest and hibernated rather than try to hit up any day parties. I knew I was going to get sweaty as hell at Get Physical's annual WMC throwdown later that night. Ever since I randomly wandered into this event for the first time, back in 2007 at Studio A, it's become a benchmark WMC event for me. The label pumps out some of the smartest, but still danceable and melodic, tech-house around, attracting a cool crowd that comes ready to dance without any bullshit. This is an event that goes late, and that you don't just stop by: it's an investment, but one with crazy returns in the wee-hours headlining set. This year, it was a four-person tag-team set between the guys of M.A.N.D.Y., Matthew Dear, and Damian Lazarus. 

Everything Get Physical does is golden in my book, and that goes as well for every event co-signed by local crew Safe, as this one was. So yes, I started out biased (towards good music an parties), but this year's edition of Get Physical Miami was the best one yet. (Click the link above to view a slideshow of cool photos by Crossfade contributing photog Nicole Cussell; the rest of the crappy photos that follow are mine.)

Reasons why this was my favorite party of all of WMC:

The hallway into the party.
1. Location. Last year, this party was meant to go on at Charcoal Studios; not sure what happened, but it wound up at Kukaramakara. That was okay, but Charcoal Studios was definitely the best possible choice this year. It's way less trashy than Soho Studios, across the street, can sometimes seem, but has just as ample dancing room. Although that warehouse-laden area of Wynwood can seem a little desolate, it just added to the sense of adventure of getting there. Also, it meant a ton of free street parking, and no other random club zombies to deal with when coming or going. Also, because this wasn't in a "club," per se, the place could stay open, and one could buy alcohol (via a liquor license-sidestepping voucher system), way into the wee hours. 

2. Production values. Safe never messes around with sound or production, but this event just about topped anything I've seen from them before. Charcoal Studios is maze-like, and there were a number of fun areas to explore. (This included a VIP, but considering it was separated from the actual good DJs, who the hell would want to hang out in there?) The trailer port-a-potties were nicer than most "real" club bathrooms, and an outdoor chill-out area was Astro-Turfed and landscaped so convincingly, it seemed like an actual natural oasis. Plus, the white bean bags they had laying around were hard to abandon.

On the way to the chill-out patio.

The main room was a cavernous warehouse, but with everything painted a clean white, it seemed expansive rather than gross. Fog machines kept just the right air of mystery, and these amazing color-changing light rods set a futuristic mood. Most importantly, the sound system was crisp, and reached all the way into the back corners, without, magically, killing one's eardrums.

That's wall-to-wall Astro Turf.

3. Vibe. The music, the location, the setting, the crowd -- all this added up to a friendly, serious-dancing party that boasted all the best elements of a late-90s rave, but a little more grown-up and without the unfortunate day-glo fashion. 

The main room, before it got crowded.

4. The talent, of course. Every Get Physical party boasts a lineup as eclectic as the music released by the label itself. When I arrived, Lee Curtiss was playing a relatively chilled, slightly disco-inflected set. The next DJ after him was Heidi, who, besides being cute as a button and one of my female DJ heroes (along with Annie Mac), brings a slightly house-ier flavor to her sets. 

Lee Curtiss, early in the evening.

In between that, though, was the real wild card of the evening, a live performance by the French group dOP. It's a bit of a visually mismatched trio, with two skinny guys in scarves and workout clothes manned a bank of synths and other machines while a stockier, slightly hip-hop looking dude wearing a Lei, with glitter smeared over his bald head, "sung," kind of. This consisted mostly of muttering in French, at one point devolving into orgasmic moans, alternating with the very Steve Aoki-style move of pouring Grey Goose into fans' mouths. At least this portion of the evening wasn't boring.

Tiefschwarz got things going deeper, taking the crowd through the 2-3ish slot, but the real pre-headliner highlight was the set from the venerable DJ Hell. He's got his own label, International DJ Gigolos, of course, but his appearance on this bill was a treat. Hell long ago shed all the vaguely electroclash trappings he flirted with earlier in the decade, and has gone back to a techier, more atmospheric sound that's Teutonic but still sexy. His sound was at once relentless but also nuanced and layered, providing a searing lead-up to the main event of the night. Here's the crowd dancing during his set, with appropriately devilish red lighting:

That was, of course, the much-heralded triple tag-team between M.A.N.D.Y., Matthew Dear, and Damian Lazarus (who marked the occasion with a strange feathery-furry gray hat). At this point, the crowd was a bit Zombieland -- lots of sunglasses in here, though it was still dark. Still, it was impossible to be distracted; the headliners, switching off at the decks, managed to lock into a robotic, shamanistic beat that killed all the mental noise. I remember, vaguely, a track that sampled the Who's "Baba O'Riley" creating a weirdly trance-y build-up, and after that, I don't remember much until my body finally gave out, and I wandered back into the early-morning and a hazy trip back to reality. 

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Arielle Castillo
Contact: Arielle Castillo