Among the major themes of this year's 23rd installment of Winter Music Conference are better and bigger. Much bigger. Just check the numbers: 40,000 people are expected to attend various events; 20,000 area hotel rooms are booked; more than 1,780 artists and DJs will perform; over 85 venues will throw parties.
In short, Miami Beach and downtown will transform into a dance music city of sorts. And as music and the industry have changed, so too have trends during the conference. One of the most positive is the increased consciousness of many party attendees and promoters. See our article about the subject here, and read about the efforts of Party with a Purpose to green the dance music community. On Thursday, March 27, Hotel Shelley opens to LemonAID, a benefit that sends a portion of its $10 cover charge to NextAID. From March 26 through 30, The Standard gives us Miamibient, a chilled-out event aimed at awareness-raising and even holistic healing. Shine at the Shelborne has dedicated a portion of its take to the charity Keep a Child Alive. Even the official conference is sponsoring a program series "underscoring the music industry's efforts to address modern global issues," according to the WMC website.
While changes in awareness are afoot, Miami is also welcoming back a number of familiar but improved conference standbys. Of course there's Ultra, celebrating its 10th birthday. Now a two-day event, it's become an internationally recognized gathering for lovers of dance music. Even Paul van Dyk and Junkie XL say so, in our article here.
Yet another event-within-an-event is the Remix Hotel, housed at the National Hotel. As always, it'll be the number one place for industry diehards and aspiring DJs and producers to hobnob and hear all about the latest technology. The main event this year is a question-and-answer session with the seemingly ubiquitous van Dyk. But there will also be appearances by luminaries such as Talib Kweli, A-Trak, and King Britt, among others. It's also the place to learn about the latest frontier of DJing: DVDJing. See our article about that here. Best of all, general admission is free with advance registration. Visit www.remixhotel.com for more information.
Another mainstay of years past could happen in March only in Miami: all-day pool parties that feature rosters of talent as stellar as the nightly soirees. Among the most impressive this year are the daily Beatport-sponsored marathons at the Remix Hotel, where you can catch sunlight sets from the likes of Anja Schneider, Bad Boy Bill, Fedde Le Grand, Dubfire, James Zabiela, and others. General admission is free, as long as you register in advance. Visit www.remixhotel.com for full details.
Another legendary day party to return is Robbie Rivera's Juicy Beach fete Thursday, March 27, at Nikki Beach. The epic event, which is sponsored by Armani Exchange, begins at noon and ends at 5 the following morning. It boasts not only Rivera but also Deadmau5, Benny Benassi, Sander Van Doorn, DJ Rap, and many more. Visit www.juicymusic.net.
Miami's big clubs, too, are preparing for marathons. Danny Tenaglia returns to Pawn Shop on Wednesday, March 26, for another Made Event edition of his long-running Be Yourself party brand. And, as always, he's scheduled to play a jaw-droppingly long 10 p.m. to 2 p.m. span. Visit www.madevent.com.
Over at Nocturnal, among the parties to break the 10-hour mark are DJ Craze's Bass Sessions on Wednesday, March 26, Richie Hawtin and his MINUS camp on Thursday, and both Hernan Cattaneo and Nervous Records Friday. Visit www.nocturnalmiami.com.
Space does what it does best: big names, big crowds, and lo-o-o-ng nights out. Among the superstar DJs to appear this conference are Erick Morillo, Ferry Corsten, Sander Kleinenberg, and, again, Paul van Dyk. And the ones we didn't have room to list are just as famous. Visit www.clubspace.com for the rundown.
There's more. Upstarts like techno label Mobilee are putting on their own showcases. And the rise of the new genre-mashup loosely referred to as electro (and flourishing thanks to the Internet) is bringing in a previously unexpected crop of both fans and producer converts. See our rundown of the phenomenon here.
And while some producers are changing styles, other big names in the biz are getting into the dance music game for the first time. Among the most infamous is Tommy Lee, who performs with his partner DJ Aero most of the time. They'll be unveiling a new quartet that includes white-hot producer Deadmau5. And they'll be playing out with another rocker-DJ team, Dave Navarro and DJ Skribble, at Cameo on Friday, March 28.
Want to know more? Read our guide for in-depth information about some of our picks for interesting names appearing around town this year. For full conference week details, search our exhaustive event listings. Just don't blame us for the resulting blistered feet.