Like a father with a newborn child, Roger Sanchez has watched the Groove Cruise mature from a young candy raver to a sophisticated house-head.
“This will be my fourth time on the Groove Cruise, and I’ve watched it grow up," he says. "Groove Cruise was very candy raver the first time I experienced it, but now we’re seeing a lot of proper house music and techno... It’s a lot more credible now. I had a lot of fun last year playing with my boys, Cocodrills and Boris.”
Sanchez had just returned from playing a New Year’s Eve party at the Q43 in Dubai when New Times tracked him down. He was in Mexico last week for the BPM Festival, and on January 23, he will board the Carnival Victory for 96 hours of dance music (Grand Turk beach party included).
The Groove Cruise is owned and operated by Whet Travel, a company that specializes in experiential cruises. In addition to offering the dance-music-themed Groove Cruise, Whet also operates rock, college spring break, metal, Latin, and Zen-themed cruises. Its founder, Jason Beukema, cruised with his parents as a kid; he hated the music and nightlife, so he chartered a cruise ship and transformed it into a variety of festivals.
The 2017 Groove Cruise will be his 29th floating masterpiece. The lineup includes Kristina Sky, Cosmic Gate, Darude, Markus Schulz, Dash Berlin, Andrew Rayel, Jochen Miller, Way Out West, Lee Foss, EDX, Nora en Pure, UMEK, Chus + Ceballos, Sydney Blu, Sam Feldt, Miami’s own George Acosta, Cocodrills, and ALX, plus many more. Beyond the music and crazy costumes, there will be comedy by DJ Mimosa, random robots, a poker tournament hosted by Bad Boy Bill, a wedding proposal or two, a miniature golf tournament, and other international-waters insanity.
“This is the largest ship we’ve ever used; it holds 3,000 people," Beukema says. "We have over 60 trance, house, and techno artists, and this is far and away the biggest and best pool deck we’ve ever had; it has a massive slide and two pools that will be amazing for the sunrise and sunset shows. And we’re adding specialty culinary concepts such as a ‘Breakfast for Dinner’ concept. And we’re doing a ‘Fuck the Wall’ Mexican food concept.”
There are no boundaries on the Groove Cruise. #GCFam is blood — more than half of the 3,000 passengers onboard will be repeat cruisers. Giving happens on each cruise through Whet Foundation’s program Destination Donation. Groove Cruisers bring and donate school supplies, clothing, and other items for orphanages or charities for underprivileged children; Grand Turk will be the beneficiary on this voyage. In line with dance music’s PLUR belief system, the philanthropy portion of the cruise is important.
Sanchez is thankful for his blessings in 2016 but is also quick to recognize the year’s faults: “So many people are desensitized, and society’s underbelly has been exposed. There’s a lot of hatred in the world and so much political negativity. People need to stand up against hate, racism, and class warfare.”
Perhaps if the world were more like the Groove Cruise, everything would be OK.
The Groove Cruise
With Kristina Sky, Roger Sanchez, Markus Schulz, Cosmic Gate, and others. Monday, January 23, through Friday, January 27, departing from PortMiami, 1435 N. Cruise Blvd., Miami. Tickets start at $799 plus fees via thegroovecruise.com.