By Rebecca Bulnes
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By Chuck Strouse
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A Latin pop singer fronting an underground dance DJ? At Party 93.1's (WPYM-FM) Fourth of July Blast 3.0, Grammy Award-winning crooner Jon Secada belted one of his best-known tunes, "Just Another Day," as George Acosta manned the decks behind him. Yes, the producer who brought us freestyle classics such as Planet Soul's "Set U Free" repeatedly sliced and diced Secada's vocals as the latter worked the stage. The trance/dance remix earned a sustained ovation from a substantial crowd (about 5000 throughout the day, according to a representative for Party 93.1). I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised by a performance that seemed like it was going to be a cheap gimmick.
But the element that had me going was the bass-dropping breakdown Acosta added to the end of the cut. Most dance music fans know the former Shadow Lounge resident from his Acosta Nation campaigns, which were heavy on trance tones. But what a lot of new jacks don't realize is that he also came from breakbeat roots, to which he told me he soon plans to return.
Backstage at the free concert (which are sorely needed in the local music scene, I might add), Acosta's old-school manager, Frankie Pacheco of Unknown World Management, was hanging out, checking out chicks, and enjoying the warm, mercifully overcast day. If you haven't heard of him, know this: Miami's rave scene took off in the mid-Nineties thanks in large part to him. Does anyone remember those 1994/95 raves at the Surfcomber Hotel, where acts such as Dee-Lite and the Orb performed? Pacheco threw them. In fact Acosta exerted his breakbeat influence on South Florida's rave scene by throwing down remixes of Cotton Club's "Nu Jack" for techno heads at those very parties (where yours truly was a fifteen-year-old rave boy basking in glow sticks while his parents thought he was sleeping at a friend's house).
But there I go, always off on a tangent about the good old days. Back to the event, where primetime trance king Paul Van Dyk played for his usual demographic. During his set I cavorted in the VIP tent, nabbing free food and beer as the door maiden repeatedly reminded me I wasn't supposed to be there. Oh well. All the while, Party 93.1 and A3-TV's public face, Buster, was busier than I've ever seen him. I'm talking here, there, everywhere a Buster. Which could only mean that he hasn't found a cure to his extreme case of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. But I'm sure that's a good thing.
After the 93.1 concert I landed at a very cool, low-key afternoon party at Jade. The Sunday affair is hosted by a charming British lady (although describing somebody as charming and British is probably redundant) named Carol-Anne Hemingway (no relation to Ernest). Upstairs, where the lights were dimmed, the lounge offered the kind of after-after-hours any fun-loving house head could enjoy. Gabriel Fain spun an eclectic mix of deep house and tribal as I was given free drinks (thanks Carol-Anne!). And no, my compliments have not been bought; I genuinely enjoyed plopping my ass down next to a group of kids who had been up all weekend. The party usually starts around noon and continues till everybody leaves around 10:00 p.m.
That's about the time I headed over to Purdy Lounge, which is right around the corner from Jade. There, DJs Induce and Plot were hosting their weekly Chocolate Sundays, offering a healthy platter of sounds for anybody who appreciates underground, old-school, or just plain quality hip-hop. DJ Contra of 90.5 (WVUM-FM) fame was a guest host that night, showing DJ Shadow's new CD/DVD Live! In Tune and On Timeon a big screen in the back room.
But my attention was perked by Induce's mood. The tall, lanky, thick-rimmed spectacle-wearing DJ/producer was smiling, laughing, and having a great time. Induce happens to be one of Miami's most underrated DJs when it comes to music knowledge. His forays with labels such as Counterflow and Beta Bodega Coalition have gained him respect across the hip-hop board, so it's nice to see that, after a few years where a standoffish attitude was one of his signatures, he's finally laying back, enjoying his status, and cracking a few jokes about sleazy journalists who can't be trusted.