During WMC, there are plenty of poolside rendezvous, eardrum-splitting techno sets, and VIP meet-and-greets, but there is only one Jump n Funk extravaganza. Almost a ripple in time during the seven-day digital festival, JNF is the open-air, twilight party where your two-step gives way to a bowlegged grind as you internally click with the selecta's rhythms.
Dedicated to the spirit of Afrobeat king Fela Kuti and his ideals of social freedom, it's the kind of party where you show up with your crew, but by night's end, you have connected with people from other continents solely based on the language of music and vibes.
Powered by one of the busiest DJs in the nation — Philly's own and new Rocksteady Crew member DJ Rich Medina — Jump n Funk first hit WMC in 2002. It's back now after a two-year break, during which Medina had renamed the party "Afro Disco" after a split with his original partner.
"The response to the party since its return has been fantastic," Medina says. "I don't do the monthly in New York anymore, since I've been focusing on touring it around the country. Through what we've been able to do at Conference the past seven years, I've been able to develop relationships with folks in other cities and other countries who really enjoy the sound and want to get involved in the party." By phone after a weekend jam in San Francisco, Medina cites Atlanta, D.C., Boston, and Chicago as a few locations for recent and upcoming Jump n Funk sessions.
This year, JNF will lift off Saturday evening at the Shore Club in collaboration with Miami's own Aquabooty crew. Jazzanova, DJ Harvey, and others will hold down the poolside area, while Rich, DJ Kemit, and the Afro-bionic Djinji Brown will be rocking the Red Room and adjoining balcony.
"Aquabooty and Jazzanova are my guys, and I think our music speaks well enough to each other but different enough to be a good contrast to everybody that comes in," Medina says. "People will see a different visual presentation, experience some percussion, and a few other things we're going to bring to the table to make the party special, while bringing a level of authenticity to it this year — close to the way we do it at home."
Birthed as an after-work party at New York City's Shine and SOB's, Jump n Funk draws an audience with no cultural or age boundaries, for enthusiasts know intuitively what Medina and his bag of records can do. "The people are coming to really be educated about the music or just to hear music that they love, that they don't get to hear very often," Medina says. "It's beautiful to be at the forefront of that movement."