Okay, so it was business which put us back on the sandbar less than
two weeks after WinterParty -- while all the rest of the CPI world
was trekking to Manhattan for their annual Roseland convention --
and at first, we were disappointed to think about what we were
missing back in Gotham, and especially Wednesday evening when we
were wandering back to our condo from Sandwicherie -- and yet again,
heckling from the cars on Fifth Street.
God, what is it about south Florida, we wondered. How is it we can
live for years in Manhattan and not get verbally abused -- and then,
within minutes of arriving in South Beach, the homophobes are
venting their vitriol.
Still, there's so much to love about South Beach -- so we let it go.
One exchange out of a hundred (given the course of a day or night),
one asshole to a hundred good people -- why focus on the loser?
So we move on. It's Winter Music Conference week. There are parties
everywhere. Music lovers galore. So they can't all be assholes, and
at least some of them must be gay. So, once our business is
completed, we dip our feet into the festivities.
Friday night: We hit the Playboy Pool party at the Raleigh. Just to
see how WMC'ers do pool parties and how they compare to CPI pool
parties. Here's what we discover:
1. Bacardi inflatables are everywhere -- same as us 2. no one's in
the water -- not same as us 3. girls dance in the shallow end while
balancing glasses of water on their heads -- this gets the
photographers all excited 4. most people are prostrate on lounge
chairs -- not same as us 5. the stage is empty -- hello? 6. the bar
staff is the same as at WinterParty -- which maybe validates that
story you heard from Winterparty about that asshole bartender (but
very hot) who threatened a patron with a bottle for ogling his bod
7. the goodie bags are filled with Playboy magazine -- but no lube
8. the deejay does not seem to be a god -- hardly anyone notices him
9. the Bacardi drinks are coconut rum -- and free. 10. whatever
drugs people are doing, it's obviously a soporific
So we book to the Shore Club for another pool party at SkyBar. Here
the crowd is a little more upscale and the deejay tent is curtained
in white muslin -- but again, no one's paying him any attention.
Still the music is good and there are some people in the pool and
some gay people about, having the best time, I might add -- and it's
a lovely setting, that Shore Club, and now the sun is setting and
everything looks good.
Then to the party at World Pie which is in the back garden and it's
kind of fun -- but not as delicious as the pizza we eat in the front
End of Friday night because next day is ULTRA at Bayfront Park.
SATuRDAY: THe UlTRA FeSTIVaL: BayFronT PArk, MIAmI.
We don't entirely know what to expect, though we've read the ads.
Dozens of deejays in at least ten tents and dance "clubs" on the bay
with Miami's skyline as the backdrop. An all-day affair, with food,
and drink, and music. The world's best deejays, according to the
lit. Thousands of people. From noon on Saturday until one a.m.
So we cab it off the sandbar. Bayfront Park is packed. Ravers.
College kids. Hippies. Children, even. And gays, too. Yippee.
The entrance pat-down is thorough. The guy in front of us almost
loses his cigars (cigars?). We almost lose our digital. Camera? the
attendant asks. No, MP, we say. She nods. We get in -- with camera.
The music is pounding from all directions. It's a fairgrounds with
the only ride being music. Huge tents and stages and light set-ups
and there's a program with a map and a list of the about sixteen
hundred deejays and we're completely befuddled and lost -- and it
feels excellent. We just wander with the music, wherever we want.
Then it starts to rain and everyone runs to the nearest tent -- and
it's a veritable hurricane and everyone is drenched to the bone and
dancing -- and cheering the rain, and the deejays are trying to
protect their equipment and the needle skims across records and
still people are cheering, because nothing is shutting down. It's
still a party.
Then the rain stops. And people move outside the tents and dance
along the water. There's so much music to hear. We stop and listen
and groove and dance -- and then move on. We go from Seb Fontaine to
Eric Morillo to Josh Wink to Sasha and Digweed and Icey and Hybrid
and Dave Ralph and then we head over to the amphitheatre where it's
It's a wonderful crowd. We feel totally a part of it. We see some
boys who could be circuit boys. We see eye candy everywhere. People
are friendly. No one's bitching about anything. There's a table
where people from the islands are cutting fresh pineapple and
peeling fresh mangos. We eat.
There's also a midway with lots of other food. Sides of beef, for
example, stretched on a wire contraption. It seems a little "black
party" for a daylong festival. Maybe people are actually eating it.
The sun goes down behind Miami's skyline. A different mood takes
over. The crowd is definitely looser. More relaxed now. All vitamins
have kicked in.
We make our way back to the amphitheatre -- and it's packed and now
we know why: it's Oakie. Paul Oakenfold. And he has the crowd, and
it's a real crowd, way beyond any circuit party we've been to except
for Black and Blue Main Event, in the palm of his hand. It's a
glorious thing to look across the amphitheatre which is packed with
people dancing, their arms in the air, dancing with their glowsticks,
and the sun is setting behind us, and onstage, Oakey has a video
which mixes images of the WTC in New York with the palms of Miami --
and can I be forgiven for getting emotional at this moment? It's
incredible, all this energy, and it's all about the music and it's
very weird to think about the fact that a war has just started
across the ocean.
Music is the only religion here -- and frankly, I can't help but
wish it were that way the world over.
We are entranced by Paul Oakenfold, but mostly by the crowd which
worships him. Once before we saw him, at the Hammerstein here in
NYC, as an opener for the Chemical Brothers, but this time,
something about him playing outside, and at the peak of this all-day
music festival, and the way his fans were worshipping him.... It was
It was a wonderful day.
Here's what else we noticed/concluded about the
differences/similarities between circuit parties and all-day music
festivals where gay people are the minority.
1. festival boys dance facing the deejay. they don't touch each
other. circuit boys can't stop touching. 2. festival boys eat food.
such as hotdogs and corn arepas and slabs of meat. circuit boys eat
altoids. 3. festival boys don't smash into you with intent to kill
when leaving the dance floor. they say, 'scuse me, bro.' 4. festival
boys come in all sizes and shapes. (in other words, the gym might be
as foreign to them as Rome) 5. festival boys keep their shirts on.
circuit boyz - duh. 6. festival boys shave their legs. so do circuit
boyz. 7. festival girls dress like raggedy ann or butterflies or
angels. circuit girls wear Hello Kitty tees. 8. drag queens are a
no-show at festivals. Hello? Don't they have a Kitty or Power
equivalent? 9. festival folks don't mind dancing on grass, and mud.
circuit boyz? I don't think so. 10. festival water cost four dollars
for twenty-four ounces. circuit party water? the reverse. 11.
festival platinum sponsor: budweiser circuit sponsor: Bacardi 12.
festival decorations: black trash bags 13. festival folks worship
deejays as a congregation, in a pie-shaped wedge. circuit boyz hope
for an invite to the pulpit from nurse. 14. festival folks don't
fall-out, or at least not with such
alarming frequency. 15. festival folks love their music. so do
In the end, that's what it was all about -- and that's why we had
South Beach. Miami Beach. Miami. Gotta love it.