This year, the Winter Music Conference took place from Tuesday March 18 to Saturday March 22. Since I was leaving Switzerland already on Friday March 14, I had the whole weekend to relax and get the most out of this vacation. There was Spring Break going on, so nearly on each corner of the streets there were beautiful women. Combined with the nice weather with high temperatures it was a nearly perfect preparation for the conference - beside the thunderstorms that brought rain and heavy winds.
Sunday some of my friends from New York came to Miami and we hang out the evening to get some food and check out the local record stores that were just preparing for the mass of people hitting them throughout the week. Some labels already starting to drop the records they would give out at the conference.
Monday evening saw the kickoff to the conference with a couple of parties. Before that, I checked the local record store Uncle Sams where some DJ's like Dino & Terry and DJ Deep showed up. When walking back to my hotel, I met JoVonn amongst others. Around 8 PM, there was a massive thunderstorm that wenter over Miami. Gladly it had gone quickly so that the SoulFuric party could go on as planned at club Rain. The party started to get crowded after midnight when everybody came. It was great to hear some classics early in the evening before they started playing new stuff and Lisa Millet performed live the new Copyright smash "Late at night". At that party, I met lots of friends and people that I only had conversation by email so far. As last year, mostly everybody from the house and garage music showed up.
Tuesday I went down to the Radisson hotel to get my conference badge. For some strange reasons, they did not have the usual bag this year, instead they only gave out cheap plastic bags (they told us that the 'real' bags are delayed at customs - funny thing...). Not as many delegates as in previous years, but at least some people showed up at the official conference hotel, many of them having not registered. In the afternoon, I went over to the King Street Party at the Raleigh hotel. Gladly I didn't arrive to early there because the music didn't start until five o'clock. One of the attractions were two young ladies working as living billboards. They would take your stickers or flyers and put them in their bikini or stick them on their body. I won't reveal any more details - you can imange what body parts were primilarly used. I went back to the hotel to drop my stuff and get something to eat. Later I went to check the Chez/Wave Music party before heading to the Magic Sessions. Tony Humphries did his thing with combining new and old stuff in his set. The place nearly erupted when he played the classic "Weekend" by Phreak. When Tedd Patterson came on, I went to the lounge to hear Dimitri from Paris because Tedd played one of his hard sets. Louie Vega started his set off with tracks from the upcoming "Elements of life" album which drove the dancefloor crazy including a terrific breakdancer. A thing not forget to mention is the door people at the Crobar (where the Magic Sessions did take place): people were told that shorts are not allowed and that they would not be allowed to enter the club. Some of my friends went to a store and bought some trousers. After they successfully entered the club, they saw a few people with shorts in there...
I thought it couldn't get any hotter, but wednesday proved me wrong (at least it felt even hotter than the previous days). Due to this fact, many people stayed inside the hotel lobby to do networking instead of going outside to the pool. My close friend Josef made it down there to and we started to hang out in the lobby and talked about a lot of different things. Many other people came by like Big Moses, Cassioware, DJ Pope to name a few. Later that day I went to the Underground Collective party where again I met many friends including DJ Oji and David Harness. Like the day before, I met my friend DJ MFSB from France and he introduced me to many french people. Later that day I went to the YellOrange party where Master Kev and the other YellOrange DJs rocked some new joints.
Thursday finally saw the arrival of the 'real' bags that are given out to those that registered for the conference. Since nearly nothing was going on at the conference hotel, I hooked up with some friends and we went all the way down to the SoundMen on Wax party at the Clevelander. Since it was still early, I decided to walk to the Masters at Work party that was nine blocks away - not a wise decision as it was another hot day... The party got packed as time was flying by and with a great line of live performances this was one party not to miss. Neverless, I left that party to go back the SoundMen on Wax party so I could enjoy the last part of the live performances there. Since I was really tired from the past days and my feet were hurting, I decided not to go out that night so I missed the Large party among others.
On the next day, after getting lots of sleep that I badly needed, I decided to go down to the conference hotel and hang out there for some time. Later that day I had a few meetings before I went to the YellOrange/Vinyl Soul party. They had fantastic live performances by Kim Beachum, Dawn Tallmann, Darryl D'Bonneau, Barbara Tucker, Cassio Ware and Georgie Porgie. Later, Terry Hunter and Tony Humphries played slamming sets. In the evening, I went to Rumi where Kenny Summit opened with a nice set for chilling. I had very interesting discussions with DJ Timmy Richardson and Cecïl from SoulFuric about some aspects of dance music in general. Later, JoVonn delievered a slamming set including lots of underground tracks that also included classics.
Saturday was the "clear out day" with everybody getting rid of all the material they didn't wanted to take back home. So it came that I got some obscure CDs that I left in Miami and also some free shirts. I was hanging around at the conference hotel with my friends for a few hours before I decided to go back to the hotel since it looked like it would started raining soon. I did just make it to the bus station when the rainfall came. Later that evening I went to Nikki Beach where Jamie Lewis, DJ Pippi and others were playing. I guess everybody from Switzerland that made it to the conference was there too. Lots of chatting going on. Around nine I decided to leave and get something to eat.
This was it for me with the conference and the parties. There have been more parties on both saturday and sunday night, but I had enough from the previous days and wanted to relax for the rest of the days I stayed in Miami before I returned back home.
This years conference can be categorized as running slower than last year. Less people came to it (especially from Europe many decided not to come) and even the conference went back to the Radisson hotel, not to much was going on there compared to 2000 or before. So again - as last year - registering for the conference was not necessery unless people wanted to participate in the panels and workshops. Also the badge did not give free entry to most parties. In contrast, many parties were really expensive if you've not been on the guest list or got a pass to get in for free. Suprisingly, there were lots of parties with many of them going on at the same time so it was hard to choose where to go. This caused a couple of parties to be less crowded as expected.
For me, the whole conference is nothing more than a networking event that gave people the chance to meet many people from around the world at one place in a short period of time. The chance to promote music is an added value to this.
The tune of the conference - according to some people I asked - might be
- Harry 'Choo-Choo' Romero featuring Robert Owens "I go back" (Subliminal Records)
Beside that, it is really hard to tell this year... Too many parties where lots of new music got played so it was hard figuring out what record got most plays. And some of the tunes given out at the conference were everything else than new. In my opinion, only time will time which tracks will make it to the charts and playlists of the DJs. Also some labels have a constant ouput all over the year so for them it is not all that important having the tune of the conference and they look at the conference as being fun and the chance to meet people and friends.
Two of my favorites are produced by the Underground Collective and will (hopefully) be out soon:
- Underground Collective "I appreciate" (as yet unsigned)
- Underground Collective "Keys of life" (Jellybean Soul Records)