If you were one of the 300 "regular" folks, or the 150 or so "press" types who got invited to the Bacardi B-Live Press Pool Party on Tuesday night, say a hefty thank-you prayer to the God of Groove.
Inside the basement Japanese restaurant, Fountainbleu's Blade, free drinks flowed (Bacardi, of course). On the interior stage, as it was called, just steps from the Blade bar, music from the likes of Craig Pettigrew and Drop the Lime saw a small crowd gathered around, dancing to the beat, while outside a massive rum-drenched, music-induced pool party was turning the sophisticated Bleu into a purple haze.
By the time we sauntered in and made the rounds, kicked back and had a few free rum and DCs, Drop the Lime had taken over the turntable on the interior stage. This New York City born and bred self-imposed deconstructionist wasn't just tapped to play the Bacardi gig because lime mixes well with the spirits, but because the Lime-man mixes well with anything.
The choirboy-turned-heavy-bassmaster had to work hard to get the crowd to stay indoors rather than saunter by to the competition a couple hundred feet away on the main stage. But for those who missed him, keep an ear out elsewhere, because if his soon to drop single, "Hear Me" featuring his gospel-laced vocals, doesn't get you off your butt, something ain't right.
Soaking in the sounds in the V.I.P. lounge area just minutes before walking across the pool to the "Blade Interior" for his set, Drop the Lime (real name Luca Venezia), his gold tooth glimmering in the Miami sun, was happy to perform wherever he could at WMC. For him, Miami's annual music fest is a great chance to let loose, take risks, experiment a little, and, in his words: "unite with artists that you don't work with all the time."
Indoors and out, there were some really great moments at the Bacardi B-Live Pool Press Party 2009 (A-Trak's Animal Collective mix to name one), but the more intimate setting paled in comparison to the previous massive event of yesteryear held in Bayfront Park. Admission there, too, was free by invitation, but the crowd numbered more in the thousands in those heydays. Tuesday night was contained, although squeezing through sweaty bodies up to the mainstage was no fun in the sun.
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Bacardi decided to take things down this year from its massive global shows, hoisting its club act on the road at smaller venues such as House Of Blues in Orlando, and other "intimate" spaces kicking off in Seattle, Wash., May 20, and finishing up the run in Dallas, Texas, on July 11.
"This way we get to cover more ground and entertain more people," said Billy Melnyk, experiential marketing manager, at Miami-based Bacardi Rums. Plus, it's cheaper in this ridiculous thing called a recession. Hell, now even rum parties are being downsized.
Yet there was enough rum to go around especially at the Bacardi Bespoke Bar. My personal mixologist conjured up a ginger-based drink using plenty of juices and sprinkled with nutmeg. The Brand Master Apprentice's technique was very smooth, asking a series of questions to get to know my drink psyche before he conjured the potion.
My first Bespoke was a Millionaire's Punch. Must have been something I said. Anyhow, it made me feel like a million bucks. My second trip to Bespoke had me sucking down a ginger-based juice drink laced with nutmeg. Ask me about the third. . .
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Meanwhile, DJ Jazzy Jeff, having just finished up a very fresh set, steered away from anything Bespoke when I invited him to join me. He was content with a non-alcoholic Strawberry Daiquiri.
Maybe it was the rum drinks, but the highlight of my night was shooting the shit with Jazzy. A little older, a little plumper, and a lot wiser, he's proud to say he's come full circle from his early days as the other half of DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince.
"Hey, in these economic hard times, I'm glad to be out with the people. That's what it's all about, getting people to just forget their problems for a few hours."
There was plenty of good music to be heard, and some surprises, too. Special guest deejay ended up being Adam "DJ AM" Goldstein who turned the crowd upside down with a cover blend of Queen, Rage Against the Machine, A-Ha ("Take On Me"), and a mix of MIA's "Paper Planes" that had everyone singing along.