Pete Tong's Pool Party: Not a Lotta Pool, Whole Lotta Dance

Pete Tong's Pool Party

With Sam Zarif, Sleepy & Boo, Nervo, Joris Voorn, Sharam, Kaskade, James Zabiela, Pete Tong, Luciano, Richie Hawtin, and Riva Starr

Surfcomber Hotel

Friday, March 25

Better Than: Being at Ultra.

After navigating one smoky cloud of weed after another at SXSW, it was surprising to not smell any of the wacky tobaccy at a massive gathering like Pete Tong's Pool Party.

Then after almost an hour, amid the muscles and bikinis, there it was, one whiff. This twelve hour (11 a.m. to 11 p.m.) extravaganza wasn't a hippy jam fest, of course. It was fist-pumping, house-loving techno madness.

And the day wasn't so much about the music as the dancing. Everyone just seemed like they wanted to feel the music more than hear it. We expected to enter and find Tweeker Town. But it was pretty tame out there by the pool.

We kept thinking we saw Ronnie from the Jersey Shore. Mostly, though, people were in the normal range. There were, however, more folks with religious tattoos in that hotel pool area than we've ever seen in our lives. Everyone had Jesus or some sort of rosary marking their flesh. Not a lot of Mary though. (Oh, the patriarchy!)

The DJ booth faced the ocean, the back of it fed into the VIP section. The very special guest was Kaskade and the crowd went wild. They danced in the dirty sand with host and British DJ Pete Tong who announced joyfully that he'd been with the BBC Radio 1 for 20 years. For two decades, he's been spreading his accessible and enjoyable dance music to fans of electronica everywhere. Broadcasting from Miami, he brought out special guest Luciano.

Luciano's music was bassier and less melodic with choppy beats looping over and over. All the partiers whistled when he started his set, and totally dug a remix of Lumidee's "Never Leave You." All the girls hunched over, butts in the air. Inexplicably, though, Luciano closed out with an awkward trance version of Bjork's "Hyperballad," which is pretty much perfect on its own, thank you very much.

Richie Hawtin was the star of the night. He brought out heavier beats punctuated by a smooth mix of dynamic sounds. Known also as Plastikman, Hawtin's been around for over a decade and the the crowd was totally entranced by his metallic yet watery beats.

This was definitely a party for out-of-towners intent on enjoying their time on South Beach. But even for locals, the pool party was definitely worth the price tag (over $50) and braving the frightening port-a-potties.

Personal Bias: House music is really, really fun.

The Crowd: From Pauly D. to a Nirvana tee.

Overheard in the Crowd: "It's like a jungle in here."

Random Detail: No one was really actually in the pool.

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Liz Tracy has written for publications such as the New York Times, the Atlantic, Refinery29, W, Glamour, and, of course, Miami New Times. She was New Times Broward-Palm Beach's music editor for three years. Now she plays one mean monster with her 2-year-old son and obsessively watches British mysteries.
Contact: Liz Tracy