Winter Music Conference

Paul Van Dyk at Mansion, March 12

See the full 35-photo Paul Van Dyk WMC 2011 slideshow at

Paul Van Dyk's orchestration of sound and light last night at Mansion was true to the title of his upcoming album: Evolution. At the outset of the show, Mansion's main dance floor was a barely lit cave. The playful German Grammy winner initially kept the growing crowd moving with reserved, slow, low-volume trance melodies.

I found myself wondering whether Mansion's sound system could really be so feeble. But Van Dyk's ever-animated, smirking face hinted at the unfolding that was to come at half past midnight, when honey-gold streams of light fell onto the primed and swelling audience while the music slowly gained volume and layers of complexity.

Eager PVD fans hungrily snapped up each concentric ring of sound the DJ unleashed. Clear-complected, light-eyed European men bit their lips and pumped their outstretched palms in the air, while an ecstatic buxom blonde wearing fishnets and hot pants took to a pole to the left of the stage, a position she would not relinquish for the rest of the night.

Suddenly, four screens around the DJ podium exploded with light and began to stream astral visions. Star-scapes, Jupiter, Mars, and Earth all came in an iridescent wave that ripped the audience out of its back-lit cave.

"Es ist der Hammer," screamed an excited tourist, which is the German equivalent for "This is the shit."

Red glowstick halos made their way through the crowd, and young, fair-skinned Arab men in expensive-looking suits pursed their lips and snapped photos of one another in front of the... DJ booth? Nah...DJ altar seems a better fit.

On the stage to Van Dyk's right, a group of young women in fake-boob-hugging, butt-cheek-skimming dresses appeared to be celebrating a very expensive birthday. A stream of sparkler-lit champagne bottles arrived at their table, and they danced, one particular brunette in blue waving her arms at the audience condescendingly, as though she were the one making the music.

"It feels like it's our last day to be alive," said Allen, a tall brown-eyed South Beach resident, dancing in the face of the epic music and light show. "Might as well live it up while we can," he smiled.

Van Dyk mouthed lyrics to the audience, seeming to feed off their euphoria. A girl non-chalantly dumped a bottle of water over the head of the guy standing next to her. A dizzy-looking young blonde guy gripped his sunglasses in his mouth as he clumsily elbowed his way backward off of the dance floor. The screens above showed pictures of jellyfish, Miami Beach buildings, and scientific jargon scribbled in dry-erase marker, as the music imperceptibly stretched its reach to completely encapsulate the dance floor like a loud, wet womb.

Suddenly, the once-subdued pulse of the music had become deafening, permeating every cell of every compulsively active body on the floor, and Van Dyk's "evolution" was complete. The DJ moved seamlessly from dense, dirty drum 'n' bass-style rhythms that made you grit your teeth and say "Unnnnngh," to floating, ambient musical clearings that made you close your eyes and drift. Time skipped forward (literally -- daylight savings struck at 2 a.m.) and no one cared, the dance floor oozing into one big mess of foolish grins and flailing arms.

Follow Crossfade on Facebook and Twitter @Crossfade_SFL.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Camille Lamb Guzman is a journalist who writes on wellness, travel, and culture. She is also finishing a book of creative nonfiction.