Blow Out

Notes on 27 parties in six nights at WMC

The Winter Music Conference spanned seven days, more than 200 "official" and "unofficial" parties, and several thousand people. By its end most of them had "hit a wall," the inevitable result of drinking, drugging, and partying for a week with little or no sleep. But there were a handful of parties worth remembering, if only for the sake of justifying what has become, for many, an exercise in excessive consumption.

Music sounds better with you: There were more than a few people aimlessly wandering around the poolside area of the Raleigh Hotel, where New York label King Street Sounds hosted WMC's official opening-night party, but not nearly as many as expected. The sound system was horrible, and Gaelle Adisson's microphone wasn't even turned on properly. But Adisson's Ananda Project, a collective of musicians led by producer Chris Brann, still managed to turn out a slow, simmering rendition of their club hit "Cascades of Colour," captivating those willing to forego networking and drinking for a few minutes.

You could find similar moments taking place at other clubs, too, when DJs and musicians braved the mediocre crowds to pump out astonishingly energetic sets. At Tantra John Beltram played a brisk mixture of unpredictably broken beats and house grooves during Ubiquity Records' Candela Bar Art and Music Party; New York DJ Astroglyde spun a gleefully cheeky Steve Porter remix of Jan Hammer's 1980s chestnut "Theme from Miami Vice" during the Bring Your Own Records party at the Marlin Hotel; and DJ Genesis cued up Angie Stone's magnificent "Wish I Didn't Miss You" during the Chicago vs. Detroit party at World Pie.

DJs Rolando, left, and Mike Clark rock the Miami Meets Detroit BBQ at Rain
photos by Scott Spellman
DJs Rolando, left, and Mike Clark rock the Miami Meets Detroit BBQ at Rain
Tuesday at Raleigh Hotel during the King Street Garage party and nary a clothed DJ in sight
Scott Spellman
Tuesday at Raleigh Hotel during the King Street Garage party and nary a clothed DJ in sight

WMC vs. DanceStar, part II: On Wednesday night Lummus Park was jam-packed with people wearily trying to figure out how to get into the DanceStar Awards show. A tree with multiple signs directing them toward several different entrances didn't help, so most simply crowded and pushed their way into the makeshift venue while event staff, clearly overwhelmed, tried to establish order. The ensuing confusion delayed the show's scheduled start at 8:00 p.m. by over an hour. Finally DJ-producer Roger Sanchez and actresses Roselyn Sanchez and Juliette Lewis appeared onstage to a slew of empty seats and a few hundred attendees loitering around the back lawn, a far cry from the 3000 attendees DanceStar had hoped for. While good-looking and well-dressed people from the back lawn were being recruited to be seat fillers, Lewis asked her fellow hosts: "Are you guys related?" Roselyn Sanchez seemed lost, but Roger Sanchez coolly assessed the proceedings when he commented, "Hey, somebody's got to do it."

What about WMC's "official" awards ceremony, the International Dance Music Awards (IDMA)? Well, when taxis full of WMC conference badge-wearers pulled up to the Jackie Gleason Theater on Thursday night, they found a sign taped to the glass door that read, "The International Dance Music Awards venue is poolside at the Radisson. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and look forward to your participation." Meanwhile at the Radisson, a meager crowd of 250 assumed the Abraham Lincoln Memorial position in their lawn chairs: stony, hands on legs, and staring ahead with stiff, arched backs.

God bless Ultra Naté, one of the IDMA's co-hosts that night, for challenging a lethargic audience. "You don't have to sit there all stiff anymore. This is a dance community, you should be dancing!" said the legendary house vocalist. Unfortunately she was fighting a losing battle. Later that night, one word mysteriously appeared on IDMA flyers posted around the Radisson: "Poop!"

Was it worth it? Most conference attendees said that parties were much easier to get into this year. But during Wet Grooves '03 at the Shelborne Beach Resort on Wednesday, the entrance table inside the hotel happily ushered in partygoers while the gatekeepers at the outside door shut down their velvet rope for twenty minutes. "We're not letting anyone in!" growled a tank top-clad enforcer who flexed his arms with all the enthusiasm of a speed freak, ignoring ten lovely ladies fitted with matching white bodysuits. But once inside, there was little evidence of the sea, sun, and sex Wet Grooves' promoters had promised, and people loitered around in a drunken haze as DJ Mark Grant pounded away on the turntables. It wasn't until Jenniffer Gertman and Mery Brinkman, together known as Fierce Dancers, worked themselves into a frenzy for the crowd's delight that the party's malaise was temporarily broken.

Two days later, 75 people were stuck behind the velvet rope guarding Ian Schrager's Shore Club and the Southern Fried Records Party. "Listen, you have to come get me -- you do," ordered a chick with a French accent to someone inside from her cell phone. Meanwhile a drunk blonde cherry-picked groups of putatively important people, telling the bouncers to let them in. As the line descended into chaos, some people left in disgust, while others sneaked in by sliding through the space between the bamboo planted outside the club and the venue's wall. This latter tactic worked for a few minutes before the bouncers got wise. A bouncer who looked like a dark-skinned Mr. Clean with a Latin accent snarled: "I don't like jokes. You want to play with me? Respect my path."

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