Believe it or not, there was a time when our city wasn't swarming with furry-booted electro fans, totally addicted bass heads, and militantly purist house aficionados for the entire last half of March.
Prior to the messy 2011 breakup of Winter Music Conference and Ultra Music Festival (which gave birth to Miami Music Week, creating a new 14-day paradigm), the EDM masses invaded the MIA for about seven days. Then they left. But now the city is awash in uhntz-uhntz-ing for almost two full weeks.
As always, the centerpiece of Miami's March electronic dance music marathon is WMC. But over the past two years, the conference's status has been increasingly challenged by Ultra and MMW — not to mention surging satellite events such as Swedish House Mafia's Masquerade Motel minifest and the now-annual Hard Miami throwdown at Grand Central. The Winter Music Conference response: a realignment of its dates to coincide again with Ultra, an expansion to nine days, and a broadening of the conference's focus to include all kinds of crossover tuneage.
Winter Music Conference, Ultra Music Festival, and Miami Music Week
Yet despite WMC's 2012 changes, Ultra Music Festival hasn't slowed its pursuit of the top spot. In 2011, the fest declared its independence from WMC, ballooned to more than 200 acts across three days, and lured a 150,000-strong mob to Ultraland. And this year, even though the scale of the actual festival hasn't really increased, Ultra organizers have still launched a number of new, superambitious initiatives.
For one, there's the Ultra Music Festival concert documentary, titled Can U Feel It: The UMF Experience, which will premiere at Bayfront Park just two days before the fest. For another, there are the Ultra Live sideline concerts and official Ultra Carryon afterparties, including Above & Beyond's Group Therapy show; club sets by Tiësto, Kaskade, Dirty South, and Armin van Buuren at Miami Beach party spots such as LIV, Amnesia, and Mansion; and a weeklong Ultra residence at Mia on Biscayne. And yes, there's even an Ultra cruise now.
But most important, there's the UMF Worldwide project, a touring version of Ultra Music Festival that'll visit "six countries and four continents" throughout 2012. With the return of its five- and six-year-old fests in Brazil and Ibiza, as well as the inaugural editions of "UMF Buenos Aires, UMF Poland, UMF Korea, [and] UMF Ibiza," Ultra is obviously angling for international EDM domination. As the official hype states, "The brand is set for global expansion, committed to bringing the UMF EXPERIENCE around the world."
Meanwhile, total dance music insanity continues to consume the streets of South Beach and mainland Miami as several hundred thousand DJs, producers, promoters, party people, professional flacks, and journalists roam from megaclub to hipster bar, boutique hotel, and beyond, crashing 500-plus parties in search of the next strain of disco, house, techno, electro, trance, breakbeat, dubstep, bass, or moombahton.
For a week and a half, the sun junkies will swim and shake ass at the Shelborne Beach Resort's and Surfcomber Hotel's pool parties. The beats-on-a-boat types will book electronic music cruises aboard the Biscayne Lady, Tikki Beach, Kabana Beach, and Floridian Princess. The Mafia fans will make reservations at the Masquerade Motel, while cool kids, their girlfriends, and Diplo get Hard at Grand Central.
Then next year, the furry-booted electro fans, totally addicted bass heads, and militantly purist house aficionados won't even leave. They'll just make the permanent move to Miami. And our city will finally be renamed Beat Freak City, U.S.A.
Winter Music Guide 2012
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