Lani Aguila (left), Buster, Seth Browarnik, and Paul Oakenfold hang at Joia
Humberto Guida

DJ Petting Zoo

Unlike rock and hip-hop stars, dance music's biggest names aren't shy about mixing it up with the fans. Perhaps because of the ego-free nature of dance music, DJs are often unrecognized and able to mingle without being mobbed. This remains one of the dance scene's most endearing qualities, along with an innocent lack of concern or social awareness (but serious issues and house music don't mix well anyway). During the kickoff party for Winter Music Conference week, Party 93.1 (WPYM-FM) sponsored a contest whose winners -- fifteen listeners and their friends -- got to shoot the shit, up close and personal, with Paul Oakenfold. But according to Oakenfold, it was really a chance for him "to hang out and talk to people without any formalities. Distance from fans never helps artists."

So table by table, the U.K.'s Minister of Trance chatted up storms with regular Joes about things like breakbeats and the essence of a healthy diet (sprouts).

The intimate affair was Thursday, March 4, at Joia, with king club kid and A3-TV VJ Buster playing host. Buster seems more relaxed after returning to his natural dark brown hair color. The VJ, who can be caught dancing at Space 34 many a Sunday morning (after a few hours of sleep, he reminds), is Boston's gift to Miami and the world's biggest advocate of hot tub soirees, but that's another column altogether. On the way in to meet Ol' Oakey, I ran into another nightlife pundit, the adorable Cubby. At first I confused him for Oakenfold. Hey, the Cubster's lost weight and looks fab, and by the expression on his face my misidentification made his day. After posing for an official Seth Browarnik photo with the surprisingly small Oakenfold, it was on to the Power of Love Productions Re-Union II party at B.E.D.

Ron D. Lim, a vivacious Swiss DJ of Caribbean descent and one of South Beach's house music pioneers, was his typical smiling self. Like many house DJs, he hopes WMC inspires locals to keep coming back to his weekly parties at B.E.D. and Flute. While DJ Romain spun an eclectic house set, I had a chance to cozy up to Dr. Love a.k.a. Richard Vasquez, a Manhattan club scene legend who couldn't keep from spinning that night despite a bad flu. I guess that means there are some consequences to the accessibility of DJs, proven by the fact that a young lady reportedly caught a rash from brushing up against Tommy Lee, who, like many other rock and pop stars (Perry Farrell, Boy George), has picked up spinning records at WMC. There goes the neighborhood.


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