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  Winter Music Conference 2002

by
Darbi Aranio & Brett Abramson
Sterling McGarvey
Shannon Petrick
tF (forum archive)
Photos by Darbi Aranio

Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue

[Click on the other staff names, to read their respective reviews. What follows is Sterling's recount.]

As I sit and write this article, I cough. I think I got it bad, y'all. Sun poisoning and rave flu. I'm not quite pale enough to join the Lobster Tan Massiv, but I'm a bit on the raw n' red side with my complexion. Any time someone who's also biracial tells you, "I can't believe you're mixed race and you're that pale!" you know you've got to compensate. So, where do I start as my body feels like it's seceding against me? How about...

Here:

Friday
11:50pm
—I hit the road with my compadres for the trip. Driving the car is one Mr. Ben "Sheets" Sheeter. Riding shotgun is yours truly. Everyone else is jammed into the backseat tighter than a badly dented can of sardines, including Mr. Carlos Chiesa, and Ms. Jenny Espinal.

Saturday
??am
—I wake up. I'm in Florida. My first time in the state, and I'm not even awake when we cross the border. My legs hurt. Too bad we've only scraped into Gainesville at this point. It would be wonderful were I hitting Simons, but unfortunately, I'm going all the way down...

4:30am—While fueling up in Ocala, we run into Stephen, who works with Daniel Gresham at the Crescent Room. He proves to be a guardian angel who takes two passengers into his Jetta, thus giving me legroom.

5:45am—The sun begins to rise. I begin to see how truly beautiful the State of Florida is. Plus, it's not satanically hot yet. We get on the turnpike.

7:42am—At one of many rest stops along the pike, we stop. There are way too many underage kids hanging out here, I comment. Then I realize that they're heading to theme parks and not WMC. I decide that I need more sleep once I get in the car.

9:55am—Traffic jam in Palm Beach County. On a Saturday morning? Huh? What's going on?

11:00am—We reach Miami city limits. It's really, really, really freaking beautiful. Oh so beautiful. Like, I didn't cry, but I was stricken with awe in that way that my old Latin teacher used to describe the beauty of Rome. Of course, I'll really understand once I go to Rome, I guess, right? :)

11:45am—After hauling ass from Atlanta to be checked in at noon, we discover that we cannot check in until 3pm. And so the fun begins as ranks are split, and I peruse The Crowd for WMC this new city where everyone has a golden-to-cinnamon tan with matching six-pack and I hear really shitty Trance and Hi-NRG coming out of virtually every dining establishment. No, I'm not saying that as a Househead, there were crappy tunes everywhere.

2:00pm—After walking from 14th and Ocean to Nikki Beach on 1st and Ocean, I decide to make my way back near the hotel room, where some woman loudly comments how offended she is at my Atlanta Black Crackers Baseball shirt. If only she knew the history. Oh well. I make some calls. I end up wandering up Collins to get my passes for the "Sipping on a Chez Cocktail at the Stuff Hotel" event that begins in an hour. My face is hot. Or is it burned? Hmmm...

2:15pm—While in the Miami International Hostel on 9th and Washington, I check DJ Prince's Master List... and there's a 2-Step remix of Lee "Scratch" Perry's "Chase the Devil" playing. Some Europeans look at me funny as I sit there singing "I'm gonna send 'im to outer space to fiiiiind another race."

Neon say OPEN 24 HOURS!  WMC 2002! 2:45pm— How did I end up running into my editors and one tranceFixed entity on Collins? If I could explain it, I'd be able to explain a lot of things in life. Dined on a wonderful Thai salad at Peppercorn on Washington. The discussion fires up. Ultra? Me no can handle crowds good. Bah. I hauled ass back to the hotel to check in and shower off the road funk.

4:30pm— I'm Sipping on a Chez Cocktail at the Stuff Hotel. Okay, well, it's really the Nash, but Stuff Magazine has co-opted it for a few days. Unfortunately, with check in and all the details, I miss Chez founder Neil Aline's set. Glyne Brathwaite from London is on the roof throwing down that New York House you know you want. The vibe is at first, a bit overwhelming for a rookie like myself, but after one cocktail, I'm chatting it up with people on the dance floor. Jon Cutler goes on. He proceeds to drop continuous gem after gem after gem. Naturally, he winds down with The Track. Come on, at this point, anyone who remotely listens to any House music knows "It's Yours." I lean over to a really, really cute girl from LA and ask her if she wants it, and if she had it, would she flaunt it? She turned and smiled as I told her it was hers.

6:45pm—I proceeded to return to the hotel room and perform my personal rendition of Pharoahe Monche's "Simon Says" to wake up my suitemates. "Yo, we are about to leave right now. You have five minutes to comply."

6:50pm— I am still threatening my suitemates with leaving.

7:20pm—It's getting dark, but we reach the Detroit Meets Miami Techno BBQ. Of course, there is no food left, but there is Techno and House rocking both rooms of Rain. I go in and check out the vibe. I run into Kevin Sauderson, and his lovely publicist, Barbara Deyo. The next thing I know, I'm interviewing him at 1:00 tomorrow afternoon right before the MTV Europe crew. Nice.

9:00pm—Run into two very cute girls from Chicago who are there solely for the Techno. They leave me debating even more about the Tronik Treatment all-Techno party on Monday night vs. Subliminal Sessions Underwater at Crobar. Ah, the great debate...

11:30pm— At the lounge of the Delano for some event by someone who's playing big old tunes for a crowd that doesn't care that they're big old tunes. The flat pool out in the courtyard is a marvel to witness, however.

1:00am—Realizing that A: Attempting to go to any clubs are now an exercise in futility and B: My body is seceding against me and wanting to sleep, I go back to the hotel room. Carlos still wants to party. He knows one of the door guys at Rain, and so he and Jenny leave for Miguel 'Migs.' I would go, but I'm absolutely positive that I will not be able to hang. I throw on some sweats and watch Cruel Intentions. Sarah Michelle Gellar was such a bitch! I succeed at falling head on into sleep as The Rage: Carrie 2 starts up, and I fall asleep before I can re-question the logic behind a sequel to Carrie.

Sunday
11:30am
—Of course, Miguel has ripped it up for the Rain crowd, and I missed it. No biggie, though. I've got bigger fish to fry. I still have the 1:00 with one member of the Holy Trinity.

1:30pm— The interview with Kevin goes incredibly well. I meet Tim Price, who is the studio/project manager for Kevin's KMS label, and a very cool cat. I also meet Angela from Trust the DJ. We all chat for a few, and I head out. I walk 22 blocks up Collins Ave to the Palace Hotel for the Pushpac Records Industry Meet and Greet, but all of my information for the party is inaccessible except the location.

2:45pm—After my attempts to hit the Pushpac party are futile as I cannot find it, I end up at Rain listening to Fauna Flash, which is 2/3 of the Trüby Trio. Highlights include the Joey Negro remix of Erro's "Don't Change for Me," which I think will be a big, big track in 2002. It's way too catchy and infectious not to be. Jazzanova comes on, and the vibe switches up into heavy Afro-Brazilian Jazz. How I feel about their mixing aside, I keep thinking that Jazzanova really needs to watch their crates around me. >=)

Josh Wink at Liquid, with Final Scratch 7:15pm—Finally, I've had my fill. Ack. Kruder & Dorfmeister have the main room of Rain on its tippy-toes, but I've got to shower and get ready for the Ovum party. I catch the beginning of Koop as Marcus Zingmark gets on the decks and throws down some straight-up Jazz. I discreetly slide him a card letting him know how much I loved Waltz for Koop, and make my exit.

10:03pm—I run into Atlanta's much-heralded Dean Coleman and his friend Vince from Roland and we go into the Ovum party at Liquid. But... not so fast. Dean ends up playing Hero of the Night and going to get some Pioneer CDJs from a Pioneer exec's hotel room. Vince and I check out the ambience of Liquid as Josh Wink sets up his Final Scratch rigging on the decks.

Josh Wink using Final Scratch 11:48pmRulers of the Deep. Remember that name. You'll be hearing it a lot in the coming months. These two Estonian producers open up the second room of Liquid not with a bang, but with a corrosive explosion. I dance until my leg start bothering me. Then I dance some more. I speak with DJ Dozia, who goes on after them and keeps it hot even as the sound starts acting funny on him.

12:56am—Between an empty stomach, a long day, zero vibe in the main room, and a set from David Alvarado that I just can't find myself getting into, I decide to make my departure from Liquid and return for Wink and Doc... which ends up materializing in...

1:33am—On my way from my room to the URB party at Billboard Live (which I am impolitely declined at the door for) to La Sandwicherie, and the 2-Step Garage Showcase, I run into Stephanie (Kameelan) on 14th. My plans change drastically. Instead, I find myself discussing House music with a member of Gus Gus at Café De Arts across from my hotel room.

3:35am—After splitting with almost everyone except for Stephanie and her agent, Omar, we finally end up at Pizza Rustica on 9th and Washington, where there is no room to move, my favorite cute-as-I-don't-know-what server with the tattoo on her neck is not there, and as we are leaving, Miss Honey Dijon and Derrick Carter are coming in... What, you think I just kept walking away from the pizza place? On the way up Washington, I collide with a belligerent kid with what sounds like a rugged South London accent. Garridge thugs on South Beach? Heh.

4:55am—So much for catching Wink and Doc. I end up at the Matter/:Form party as it winds down (Omar has to say hello to Layo) and the staff of Goddess politely informs everyone that the fire marshals have their balls in a vise, and everyone needs to hurry up and leave. As I try to head back to Liquid to catch the last of Doc, I see that every major club on Washington has ejected its patrons out to the streets. Le sigh... so much for the one like Martin.

Monday
3:17pm
— So here I am on the roof of the Sony Music Building by myself for the Diesel-U-Music Press Conference. Standing around. Looking a bit lost. Run into Stephanie, Omar, and the entourage (including a cutie from LA named Dottie). I meet Natalie Svider from Moonshine Records, who ends up being my partner in blistered heels along with Stephanie. Just as the open bar opens up and I get a beverage in my system, an opportunity to catch the Masters at Work party at Opium Garden arises. Sorry, Diesel, but I do love my MAW!

5:53pm—No MAW for Sterling (list is closed, and I can't exactly roll in with Armand Van Helden and his crew), but a lot of Naked Music and half-naked people for free at Nikki Beach. It looks like everyone and their great-grandparents make it to this one. Seriously. I finally meet Neil Aline, and get to speak briefly with the Winksta. 'Tis quite dope. Dean's been working all day, and can't even get a damn drink. I decide to leave him be. Lisa Shaw is performing Blue Six's "Let's Do It Together" live onstage. There are women who look like Hed Kandi album covers everywhere. I point around. "There's 'Nu Cool!'" "Ah ha, 'Beach House!'" "She's so 'Disco Kandi!'" "That's all 'Back to Love' right there!" Should I pinch myself?

9:32pm—After deliberating (Omar got everyone a limo to the Nettwerk party and Space with Tenaglia vs. Sub-f'ing-liminal Sessions at Crobar), I jump out of the shower, get decked out, and vault over to Crobar. Hey, I still stand by my choice, dammit!

3:30am—I and a producer named Yug are jumping, screaming, and scaring people as Erick Morillo wears his headphones Geordi LaForge style and dismembers the crowd with his crate o' trusty records. Sure, I'm missing High Contrast's American debut as well as Foot-in-Your-Ass Techno from Billy Nasty and Misstress Barbara, but I'm not thinking about it as a blinding gust of cold steam gasses me from overhead and I jump up and down as though my life depended on the next mix. SoCo Audio's Michael Scott and Asad Rizvi

4:20am—I enter Steam for the SOCO Audio party in a state of paralysis. Between Melvin Moore (a majorly underrated DJ who deserves an Atlanta booking, I might add), Yousef, Harry "Choo-Choo" Romero, and "More" himself, I am officially steamrolled. Erick abused Crobar's truck horn so much it wasn't funny. I use my last remnants of strength to talk to Rala of Touch Productions and Marcos Pieras before attempting (in vain) to dance, but quickly realize that blisters are forming as the night winds down.

Tuesday
1:00pm
—Last night to party. Last night to network. My options look slim til the Chez, Wave & Bombay party at 5. Carlos and I hit the street.

4:15pm—Fate is funny. After running into Donald Glaude on our way out of a quiet afternoon at Nikki Beach, we end up at the Moody/IHR party listening to Bad Boy Bill and enjoying the open bar a little too much. I'm officially off my face as I chat with Honey Dijon and DJ Dan. Derrick Carter is too popular for his own good. First, he can't eat a slice of pizza without creating a scene on the street. Now, well... he just looked really tired. A pat on the shoulder for him and a dap to Donald for the hookup, and we're off to...

7:12pm—... Chez, Wave, & Bombay, baby! Neil Aline has just stepped off the decks, and the crowd is treated to E-Man performing "It's Yours" live. I'm off my face and loving every second of the vibe. Roy Davis, Jr. has the backroom steaming like a sauna, and my wait to finally see him play is well worth it. My hands are in the air the entire time. François K steps on the decks, but the rain has subsided, and I've got to go get ready for the ultimate culmination of conference.

10:30pm— Unlike last night at Crobar, I get to the club, and the dancefloor is already populated. The Front Service Bar Crew from Atlanta is already in effect, and Tony Humphries is jamming out the Garage Jersey style. Unfortunately, the empty-stomach blues plague me again. Sobering up from my open bar revelry doesn't help either, so I get my stamp, head next door to Pizza Rustica and then later on...

2:15am—... Tedd Patterson is playing to a packed dance floor. It's so on. After 20 minutes or so, it's Louie's turn. Of the times I've seen Louie play, I've never seen him this perfect. And so we go on a journey for the next two and forty-five. I only stop to see a bit of Dmitri from Paris, but Louie is mashing the floor too much for me to stay in Crobar's backroom.

5:35am—So I'm walking back to my hotel room from Crobar, when some guy who's sitting with a woman asks me if he can have my complimentary copy of Mixer. I look at him as though he asked me for my Butterfinger, and I'm yellow with spiky hair. I go back to my room and decide, oh what the Hell, it's my last day in Miami; let me go watch the sun rise. I bring the Mixer back out with a cup of water and sit on the porch. After talking to the guy, it turns out that he's Sander Kleinenberg's best friend. His name is Marco, and he's a DJ in Holland. His beautiful friend, Samira, comes out to join us and we proceed to the beach to watch the sun come up and discuss a plethora of things, including why I ended up skipping out on Tenaglia at Space...

I'll leave my WMC story on that happy note and leave out the details about the agony of sun poisoning... See you in SoBe in 2003!

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