Winter Music Conference

Louis Puig, Carmel Ophir, and More Weigh in on WMC 2011

With Ultra Music Festival and the "new" Miami Music Week starting March 22, let's not forget that Winter Music Conference just came and went.

We'll admit, we stayed home for the most part. There was still plenty of events -- even if not all of them were worth attending. But we heard parties thrown at the Shelborne and the Surfcomber were very well attended. And Tuesday night's Def Mix, the official opening party for WMC at the Vagabond, also had a great turnout. (We hear the venue was packed all week.) So, it wasn't exactly the epic demise everyone predicted.

So, we had to ask Miami's nightlife power players: What did they think of this year's more intimate WMC?

Vanessa Menkes, senior vice president of communications at the Opium Group, said the venues had a "great weekend with Sharam, Paul van Dyk, and Green Velvet ... and numbers were up from last year," when compared to the same week in 2010. Of course, the Opium Group is set to possibly have its best March when Mansion hosts the official Ultra Music Festival Carry On parties on Saturday and Sunday.

Then there is WMC's biggest champion, Louis Puig, owner of Club Space: "We had an amazing week. All our events were sold out. It's just too bad that it had to take the breakup of WMC and Ultra for this city and this industry to finally realize what I have been saying for years: There is no reason why we couldn't make March Winter Music Conference Month with events, concerts, and pool parties every weekend."

Dennis Wheeler, consultant for the Shelborne's events, echoed the similar -- albeit tempered -- satisfaction. "We didn't have record numbers, but we had a full crowd for every party, and a lot of locals that don't go out during Ultra Music Fest week due to the giant crowds."

Still, you won't hear Wheeler complain about this year's conference. "It also gave us an opportunity to have some DJs that may not have played Ultra Week. I believe it was in some ways back to the first 10 years of WMC before the greed of everyone gouging the people ... with higher prices on every level."

But what about Miami's underground? Honestly, NE 14th Street didn't seem any busier than any other weekend. But Carmel Ophir, co-owner of the Vagabond, definitely sees the separation as something good.

"WMC was incredible," Ophir opines. "Pure magic in music and vibes. Glad to have it separate and have two great weeks of music."

There is no doubt that two weeks of non-stop electronic debauchery could be a tourist boon to the county and cities of Miami and Miami Beach. But there is still that pesky event in Austin, Texas, held every mid-March that we think will get in the way of ever seeing that possibility come to life.

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Jose D. Duran is the associate editor of Miami New Times. He's the strategist behind the publication's eyebrow-raising Facebook and Twitter feeds. He has also been reporting on Miami's cultural scene since 2006. He has a BS in journalism and will live in Miami as long as climate change permits.
Contact: Jose D. Duran