Beastly Beats

This Friday Level will open its doors for a night benefiting Jungle Habitat, and who better to spin the event that will save the orangutan than the dance remix duo that has been saving divas in the club wilderness: Thunderpuss. The Billboard-topping team of DJs Chris Cox and Barry Harris has been applying first aid to big-name pop stars such as Janet Jackson, Madonna, and Jennifer Lopez each time the girls release dance tracks that require a little edge to make crowds scream. And this Miami gig (their first together in nearly five years) promises to provide a healthy dose of the potent tribal-house sound the two have made a club staple.

Neither claims to be particularly impressed with the state of club music today; both say the "boring" scene could do with a dose of pop and a return to soul.

"Pop music is much more accepted now than it was, like, ten years ago," Harris tells New Times over the phone from his lair in Los Angeles. "I think people are a lot smarter this time around and realize that there's a lot of energy in that music, and it's great for a high-energy party."

More laid-back, Cox tempers Harris's high-energy hopes by suggesting dance music in general is on a trend for a slower, more funked-up sound.

"I'm not really big on trance, but there are elements of that sound which I find appealing and try to incorporate into what I do," says Cox. "I'd like to find that happy medium."

Trance has had its run on the Beach, but signs have been pointing to a shift in attitude, and Thunderpuss is ready to offer an adjustment. Combining diva vocals, underground house layers, and their own twist of infectious percussion, Harris and Cox are looking forward to their first non-WMC/Circuit event on the Beach.

"Everyone said trance would sweep the United States, and when it didn't quite happen, people kind of said music went stale. I don't think it did," Cox continues. "I think people are just looking for that next big thing, and in my opinion a lot of music is going to turn back to that early house sound because of its soul. I'm more into house music, personally -- you know, that deep, dirty, funky sound."

Harris, a native of Toronto, first found fame with just that sound in the early Eighties, when he released a radio-friendly dance gem called "Beg Your Pardon" under the moniker Kon Kan. Cox got his groove rolling in Nevada skating rinks before breaking out with vocal-heavy tracks that came to define West Coast house. Together the two fused Harris's underground percussion and Cox's penchant for melodies to concoct a fail-safe elixir that had some of pop's biggest divas begging the pair to inject their tracks with Thunderpuss.

Opening to little publicity back in January, W6 has not done much for the denizens of the jungle, but that may be precisely the appeal of this swanky Washington Avenue lounge. With non-Neanderthal doormen, chic city style, and beats that attract a crowd as varied as the drops of rain pounding Miami's sidewalks in the summer, this club is what Miami ought to be in spades. Owner Craig Duffy gave New Times a quick tour one Saturday and laid out the game plan for this Manhattan-style space.

"We're going a little more high-end with this," Duffy says, gesturing toward the scenesters sipping Grey Goose cocktails. "It's got that New York vibe but very little attitude, and most of our crowd so far has been locals."

Things won't be quiet for long, as Ricky Martin and Ingrid Casares already have been spotted in the subtle glow of the stylish lights, spheres known as Blue Balls for the warm glow they cast.

"Yeah, our gay crowd gets a kick out of those," says Duffy.

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Kevin McLaughlin