Winter Music Conference

WMC 2012 Record Collectors Show at the Beachplex March 24

Record fairs are like hypercompetitive, cut-throat, life-or-death archaeological digs. But instead of some swarthy scientist digging up the missing link between man and ape or some rugged Indiana Jones type discovering lost civilizations, you have über-nerds frothing at the mouth, damn near ready to shank a motherfucker over a mint-condition copy of Giorgio Moroder's Knights in White Satin.

It's like a jungle out there. No, it's like a jungle crossed with trench warfare and pirates sailing the open seas, looking for bins filled with exotic acid house to plunder and pillage. The point: When it comes to attending a record fair, you gotta come prepared.

On Saturday, March 24, the annual International Record Collectors Show will bring all kinds of vinyl junkies to Miami Beach. And whether you're digging for long-elusive titles on your wish list, a stack of records to resell online, or even some singles to spin during Conference, there are a few things you need to know to make the most of your purchases and/or survive.

Inspect every record thoroughly before anyone is even in the door. Get to the Beachplex. There are freaks lining up right now. And nothing is worse than a majorly picked-over stack of wax. Sometimes these fairs have higher ticket prices to get in early; always take that option. In WMC's case, though, you might have to bribe and/or seduce a security guard.

Avoid Beatles dudes at all costs. What are Beatles dudes doing at WMC? They're everywhere. Not only can they be spotted from a mile away (the most dad-looking guys in the room), but also certain record collectors claim to be able to psychically sense their arrival. The most intolerable of baby-boomers, they derive every last drop of "coolness" from the most obvious, oversaturated band. Their Holy Grail: a pressing of Yesterday and Today with its alternate cover of the bandmates dressed like butchers hanging around a bunch of dismembered baby dolls. The best way to avoid Beatles dudes is to not give a fuck about the Beatles.

Protective shoulder pads are a must. In the age of the smartphone, Dorkus Malorkus collectors don't need nothin' other than a Twitter machine (that is, a cellular telephone) to keep up with eBay auctions and get weird on Discogs when no one is looking. But you should bring a pair of WWE Road Warriors-style shoulder pads. They'll provide the perfect protection against hairy-palmed jabronis digging over your shoulder.

Always assume it's a bonzer. By definition, a bonzer is one of those records that for some reason (limited pressings, rare versions) costs more than some people make in a month. Diggers often flip past a platter that looks familiar and they don't know why. We hate to break it to you, but you saw that item in the Almanac of Insanely Expensive Records. And the second you moved on to a stack of 25-cent soul 45s, the lizard man snatched that shit like Yogi Bear merkin' a picnic basket.

Do not be afraid to get physical. Record collecting is a contact sport.

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Matt Preira