Continent Divide

Dance music may never hit as big in the United States as in Europe, but maybe for these DJs it doesn't matter

If any WMC event can root DJ culture out of the underground, it may just be the impressively produced DanceStar USA. Fabulous freaks Green Velvet, Funky Green Dogs, and Timo Maas's diva Kelis turned out excellent performances. Lenny Kravitz popped in from his Miami Beach residence to present the first award. British celeb Fatboy Slim showed up to accept his, saying, "I can't believe this is the first U.S. dance-music awards. Because you guys invented it."

But there is still a long haul. In the press room backstage, where the assembled media consisted of mainly foreign camera crews and small Internet broadcasters with camcorders, the common refrain was, "Who's that?" Anticipating the same reaction from viewers, the awards-show producers included short tutorial segments on each of the songs nominated for record of the year and gave a brief bio of the artist over a clip from the song.

José Padilla longs to chillout without the Brits
José Padilla longs to chillout without the Brits
Exposed Underbelly: Green Velvet (center) and friends
Exposed Underbelly: Green Velvet (center) and friends

Thrust into the press gauntlet, the winners looked dazed. When one dot-com interviewer asked album of the year winner Felix Da Housecat where fans could learn more about him, he peered at her through his double-thick black glasses and shrugged. "I don't have a Website," he said. "All this is new to me."

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