My WMC day on Thursday went from swish to underground to somewhere in the middle, and it was interesting to see how conference is holding up across the economic strata. It seems like in the alternate world of dance music, people who have been partying on yachts are still partying on yachts. The rest of us are maybe saving cash by staying home more this year, or bored of the excess these industry extravaganzas can bring.
The main room of Soho Studios around 1:30 a.m.
To wit -- my day started on the annual private Sasha and Digweed cruise aboard the Lady Windridge yacht, sponsored locally by Creations/the Vagabond and also by the swank San Francisco club Ruby Skye. For those really into progressive house titans and the feeling of living the high life, this was a dream party. The Brit super-DJs spun for a small crowd of a couple hundred, and there was all the catered food, top shelf booze, and Red Bull one could drink. What recession? Everything was ridiculously idyllic, from the way the tunes matched the changing light to the dolphins swimming behind the yacht (really).
The story was completely different, however, later that night at the Creme de la Creme party at Soho Studios. The promotion team behind this was promising (it was a collabo between the Miami Nights blog, Okayplayer, and Contagious Musiq), and the lineup wasn't too far off, for its scene, from the party's name. Among those supposed to appear were Kid Sister, Diplo, Stretch Armstrong, Wale, Junior Sanchez, and Chromeo -- for a DJ set.
And while these folks are all popular, it was clear they may have reached market saturation, at least locally. Kid Sister, Diplo, and Chromeo have all appeared at LIV recently, so they weren't a huge deal for locals, and everybody from this world hits up SXSW now, too, so by the time they get here they aren't of much interest for industry diehards. So that left just a couple hundred people milling around two rooms last night in this too-big warehouse space.
When I arrived around 1:30 a.m., a small crowd was dancing, perhaps overenthusiastically, to a live performance by Hollywood Holt outside, while a scattered crowd of about 50 stared in the main room at a DJ trying to play some bangers. (Are they bangers if the room isn't banging?) I saw Chromeo make tentative steps towards the stage, but didn't stick around for their DJ set because the sound was echoing confusingly and the whole thing was a little depressing.
Much, much better was the Minus records party at Karu & Y, home of the $14 well cocktail served in a plastic cup. There were about five different WMC parties happening throughout teh place, and showing up on such a bustling was unsettling. As I walked towards the entrance, I had to dodge a large shouting and shoving match between a girl, two of her male friends, and perhaps a couple of security guards which spilled from the sidewalk into the street. Closer to the door, someone else was being bodily thrown out. Two kids in front of me were arguing with a bouncer about their fake IDs. There were people and lines everywhere and it was bewildering.
Luckily, the Minus party, in the club's Buddha Gardens, was an oasis. The place was packed, but the vibe was friendly, and American expat Troy Pierce was hitting it hard and dubby, locking into a bass-y groove.
And then came the most amazing moment in minimal techno ever. As one track built up, there was a weird cranking, sputtering noise. People cheered, and kept dancing. Most epic build-up ever? No -- because all of a sudden there was silence. The crowd had been dancing to the very minimal sound of a speaker cone slowly blowing.
Luckily it took less than ten minutes of simmering potential riot and rhythmic clapping to get things back in order, but it was a super-lame moment for a venue that cost so much to put together. Props to the DJs and the crowd for getting immediately back into the groove.