If WMC boasts a definitive DJ, it would have to be Danny Tenaglia. The man's been conference staple since 1986 (he missed out on 1985, the first WMC year) and has become legendary for his epic, soulful sets. As one of those pioneering WMC performers Tenaglia's been privy to the startling evolution of the yearly festivities. "The good thing is the music I was championing is now accepted," says the 48-year-old Tenaglia recently by cell phone.
Still, there tends to be a flip side when something becomes too successful, and in Tenaglia's view WMC may have grown too big for its own good. "Now I think they have to many parties, there are people doing sets at [places like] Denny's and at the Armani Exchange. Now you don't see the old-school people anymore, all hanging out together in one room."
Perhaps that perceived lack of intimacy and the old-school vibe at the conference is what makes the Tenaglia sets so essential for many fans. After all, he's one of the earliest DJs responsible for bringing the sounds of Chicago and New York house music to Miami. A New York native, Tenaglia temporarily relocated to Miami in 1985, taking residency at the club Cheers and spinning around town until 1990.
Later, his 1995 debut album, Hard & Soul, established him as a gifted producer with an appreciation for dance music's history. Ensuing residencies at infamous clubs like Tunnel and Vinyl established Tenaglia as one of the top DJs in the world. With last year's Futurism album, he expanded his sound with forward-leaning tribal breaks, bringing his style firmly into the present.
As a club spinner, he's also particularly known for his now-classic long sets, with some easily going over the 12-hour mark. "That's something that happens occasionally," says Tenaglia about his marathon sets. "I don't want people around the world to expect me to do that all the time."
Even so, Tenaglia believes those long sets are an essential aspect for DJing, "What makes a DJ knowledgeable is to know all the different genres. Nowadays kids are doing two-hour sets, and that's not just enough to develop a foundation. Back in the day, we used to do eight-hour shifts at the night clubs -- you had to work!"
Tenaglia's advice to aspiring DJ's is simple: Go back to the past. "Too many people spend to much time [self] promoting," he says. "They need to learn about people like [DJ] Richie Hawtin and find out who their mentors are. All they have to do is use Google on their laptops."
Ultimately, though, even with all the changes in dance music, WMC remains close to Tenaglia's heart. "Is my favorite event of the year and the most important week for me," he says. "I never would have imagined that I would have such a future, I'm very humbled."
Danny Tenaglia's current top ten:
1. The Unexpected EP, DTNY
2. "Jagger Master," Antranig & Burchan
3. "There Is Only One," Lula vs. Alan T
4. "Where's Mr. Brown," the Martinez Brothers
5. "Piggly Wiggly," the Tube Amps
6. "New Kicks," Awesome Wells
7. "What The Funk?" DJ Anita Break
8. "World, Let Go," Shady James
9. "Equinox," Danny Tenaglia aka Code 718
10. "I Smell Ass," Anthony Lamont
Wednesday, March 25 at the Pacha NYC at Parkwest Party, with the Martinez Brothers. Parkwest, 30 NE 11th St., Miami. Doors open at 10 p.m., tickets cost $40 in advance from wantickets.com. Ages 21+ with ID. stereomiami.com
Friday March 27 at the Danny Tenaglia Classics Party at Score, 727 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Doors open at 10 p.m., tickets cost $20 in advance from wantickets.com. Ages 21+ with ID. 305-535-1111; scorebar.net
Saturday, March 28 at the Ultra Carry On Party at Soho Studios, 2136 NW 1st Ave., Miami. Party goes from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m., tickets cost $40. contagiousmusiq.com
Sunday, March 29 at the Pacha NYC Pool Party at the pool at the Shelborne, 1801 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Party starts at noon, tickets cost $40 in advance. www.wantickets.com
-- Jose Davila