Miami’s sunshine and swaying palm fronds are intoxicating. South Beach’s seductive ways convince its tricks — uh, visitors — that renting a Lamborghini is a good idea. Upside-down Corona bottles in margaritas lure prey to pimps, hoes, and blow black holes. Even Ellen Allien has considered its advances. She was so drunk on ocean views during Miami Music Week at DJ Mag’s Poolside Sessions party one time that she considered playing a beach-vibe house set. However, shortly after she arrived at the Surfcomber Hotel on Collins Avenue, she experienced guilt. Or maybe she had a moment of realization. Either way, she could not betray her true love: techno. Allien bleeds black techno blood even on a sunny day in Miami.
For today's set, she's wearing black sneakers, a denim skirt, a black tank, and tinted rectangular John Lennon shades. Her right shoulder bears a scar from surgery two years ago. She was in a bad car accident on the way to a gig in Berlin. On her left arm is a tattoo of the alien that protects her.
At 4 p.m., she steps to the controls to play a 60-minute set. She begins with a track by Dance 2 Trance around 120 bpm. She then swerves for Berlin’s minimal/deep tech sound, which is her heartbeat. She could have played only the music of her record label, Bpitch Control, but she spreads the love. Dark techno is served with a bright, infectious smile. Her dancing is constant and strong. She plays her remix of Depeche Mode’s “Cover Me,” then “Sexual Intimidation” by Katana, and then a remix of Patrik Carrera’s “Manipulate.” Everyone in the place is having a good time, but it’s Allien who's having the most fun. She fans herself with a vinyl record and then drops a needle on Anthony Linell’s “Layers of Reality.”
“I’m a positive and energetic person. I never sit still,” she says later. “I do Pilates twice a week, and I am dancing always — it keeps me strong.”
Soon, two fans ask for a photo with her. She kindly obliges. Her opinions are interesting and funny. White sausages in Munich are her favorite. She doesn't like lakes but loves oceans. Seven months of the year are spent in Berlin and five in Ibiza. Berlin is her primary inspiration, and all of her music production happens there.
“When I find silence inside of me, it is kind of a meditation moment, and then I have ideas," she says. "This only happens in Berlin. When I am in Ibiza, there are no ideas, and life is about the sea and sun. When I come back to Berlin, the sea is gone. In Berlin, there is quietness, and then the process of creativity starts in my mind."
Later that night, Peggy Gou, Nastia, and Allien play at Trade until 5:30 a.m. Allien and Nastia’s back-to-back has more tempo than the pool party. They are smashing the place out.
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Afterward, the crowd from Trade empties onto the Washington Avenue sidewalk. Rick Hernandez of Miami says, “I’m a trance fan, but that was really good. I’m gonna have to check shows like this again. Who was that again?”
Around the world, there are opportunities for Hernandez to track down Allien in 2018. She'll host a schedule of “We Are Not Alone” parties at Griessmuehle in Berlin, she’ll perform at Detroit’s Movement Festival in late May, and there's her summer residency in Ibiza at DC-10. Allien will return to Miami for a show at Floyd Friday, May 18. Listen to her remix of Mount Kimbie’s “T.A.M.E.D” for a preview of what the evening will sound like. The single will be released this Friday, May 11, and will surely make the set list.
Allien’s honesty and genuineness are endearing in conversation. They're felt on the dance floor.