By Michael E. Miller
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By David Villano
By Jose D. Duran
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By Kyle Swenson
By Luther Campbell
Ultra Music Festival, the annual one-day mega-rave that brought out an estimated 35,000 people this past March, is going to have some steep competition when it returns to Bayfront Park for a seventh edition in 2005. Club Space, the biggest nightclub in the city, is pitching a rival festival.
According to marketing director Ardis Robles, Space will have the tentatively titled Spacefest at either the park or American Airlines Arena the week before or after Ultra 2005. So there's no conflict, right? Not quite. Any DJs who choose to play at Spacefest will have to sign a noncompete clause, which means they can't play at Ultra, too.
"Whoever plays for Spacefest can only play for Club Space and Spacefest. They won't be able to play for Ultra, and vice versa," says Robles. Though peaceful coexistence has happened in the past -- Paul Van Dyk, for example, played at both Ultra and Space this year -- Robles warns, "The rules have changed."
Winter Music Conference became a cosponsor of the annual Ultra Music Festival this year, and has made it a major component of its weeklong conference, scheduled to take place March 22-26, 2005. Meanwhile, Space has filled e-mail lists devoted to the dance festival with screeds against WMC, recently criticizing the conference for being too short in length and vision.
The club will still offer DJ showcases at its downtown venue during Winter Music Conference, the international dance music event that attracts tens of thousands of people to Miami.
Most area nightclubs sponsor affiliated and unofficial parties during conference week; last year Space threw Spacefest without WMC's official participation. Robles says that Space talked with Ultra about working together on a second event in addition to the Ultra Music Festival for 2005, and that Ultra wasn't receptive to the idea. "We tried to work with them, and they didn't want to. So we were like, öWell, we either do it together, or we do it separate.' So we'll do it separate," she says. "We gave them a choice."
Considering Ultra's insane popularity, is Space crazy to challenge its ecstasy eminence? Robles insists that the club is already getting nods from many of the big-name progressive house and trance DJs who in years past have made Ultra a must-attend event.
"They're Space DJs. They're not Ultra DJs," she says confidently. "This is something that Space does for a living. [We] breathe this every single day. Ultra does this one time a year. These DJs have a relationship with Space and continue to play here. Paul Van Dyk, DJ Tiesto, Danny Howells, and Josh Wink were just here. You know what I mean? There's a relationship." She says Club Space will announce a tentative line-up for Spacefest this week.
What does Ultra/WMC think about all this? WMC cofounder Bill Kelly issued this written statement regarding the feud: "Ultra Music Festival 7 will continue to showcase a stellar lineup of DJs and artists from Bayfront Park, with over ten arenas and stages to cap off the week as the official closing event for Winter Music Conference 2005."
Guys in Suits
County-battling attorney Stephen Cody has chosen as his newest foe grizzled corruption fighter Christopher Mazzella, Miami-Dade County's Inspector General. Cody is suing Mazzella in an attempt to force the IG's office to reveal details about its purchase of surveillance equipment. What kind of equipment? The Bitch can only guess, based on what she can detect through all the black marker redacting the purchase orders. In one case, it appears the office ordered sunglasses equipped with a pinhole camera and a 3.6 mm lens. Cody says such purchases are more appropriate for the police department than the IG.
"The concept of an IG is good -- tracking down waste and fraud," he allows. "But what if they are doing it by illegal means? In effect, Chris Mazzella is a dress-up law officer."
The IG's office claims in its legal response that the records concerning these purchases are exempt from Florida's public records laws because the department, while not itself a law enforcement agency, is a "criminal justice agency" with access to criminal intelligence used to assist law enforcement. To reveal the records could compromise investigations.
This past July, New Times columnist Tristram Korten revealed that Kerry Rosenthal, chairman of the Commission on Ethics and Public Trust, sent a letter to Mazzella upbraiding him for getting involved in criminal investigations better reserved for law enforcement agencies.
Rosenthal's letter, which mentioned the surveillance toys, made Cody curious, so he asked for all the records related to these purchases. The IG claimed an exemption and Cody says he decided to test the principle in court. A hearing on the case is set for the beginning of December.
Recently, Cody represented Sirgany International, Inc., a company that for years had a lock on certain concession operations at Miami International Airport. The IG took Sirgany to court to force it to release records related to its MIA contract expenditures. Cody says there's no connection between that case and this one. Mazzella himself declined to comment. "I don't know what his motives are," he said. "We are a criminal justice agency and we can claim the exemption."