One of the best venues we went to during WMC this year was the Raleigh Hotel on South Beach. Probably one of the coolest pool-to-DJ-set-up ratio I have seen in awhile, possibly even a contender to rival the pool parties out in Vegas. Not nearly the size of let's say Wet Republic, but cutting it close. I think I loved this place so much because it was a perfect blend between luxury lifestyle and dance music, and had some sweet Ibitha vibes due to the demographic attending the party. By NO means were deep house / techno / tech house my favorite subsets of dance music going into WMC, but I certainly came out with a completely different mindset.
Mark Knight’s Toolroom Knights went head-to-head with Chus & Ceballos’ Stereo Productions, and I am pretty sure my mind was blown the entire time I was there. With a line up featuring UMEK, Prok & Fitch, Weiss, Rafa Barrios, Sergio Fernandez, and Leonardo Gonnelli - you kind of can't go wrong - or so I learned. I had seen Mark Knight a few months back at Marquee NYC, but this upped my feelings for him in a major way along with the entire label for that matter.
So let's first start off with the venue: Luxury, SoBe lifestyle, baller. That is the best way to describe it. The only way to describe it really. The pools, the cabanas, the bars, the restaurant, the hotel, the staff = incredible. I was noticing that a lot of parties during WMC 2014 were not set up all that well for the most part, at least not for optimal listening experiences depending on where you were in the venue. At some parties the stages weren't even facing the pools and it all felt somewhat "backwards." The Raleigh, however, nailed it - perfect set up. The stage lined the back of the entire venue, facing the pool with a massive dancefloor in between, and smaller alcoves flanked the entire space for the necessary mid-day break! The pool was dope, the food was better than any party we experienced, and the property was the epitome of SoBe luxury...BAM, SOLD! I'm going back for sure!
Then the crowd: Older, sophisticated, foreign. Everyone seemed like they were from somewhere much cooler than the USA and were clearly seasoned vets in the game of dance music. The majority of the men were wearing vintage Pacha t-shirts straight out of Ibitha and the girls were clad in some seriously hot get-ups. Yes, the Miami look featuring serious ass, lips, and titties, but somehow these girls managed to stay...classy? Yes, classy, with T&A hanging out for everyone to see...I LOVED IT! Rocking heels on the dance floor during a day party...that's dedication to looking good if you ask me! Didn't mind that the average age must have been closer to 30 as it was a nice change of pace from the younger crowds we experienced earlier on in the week.
The tunes: Mind-blowing, different, deep...very, very deep. I don't typically love this style of dance which I mentioned already, but let me tell you, every DJ that got on the decks blew my mind. It was the PERFECT South Beach pool party vibe and it made leaving the venue somewhat unbearable. I was most excited to see emerging artists Prok & Fitch, who were casually sitting next to us during our lunch at the venue. Was completely jonesing during techno god UMEK and one of my favorites of the day, Weiss. I quickly learned that the international crowd was there for well-known Rafa Barrios, Sergio Fernandez and Leonardo Gonnelli and I couldn't get enough. For being an event that I was not 100% sold on going in, I left a changed woman. Of course, friendly Mark Knight came out and partied with the crowd a bit - taking pictures, hanging out, shooting the shit. This guy is just plain cool. When I was at Marquee he even let me come behind the booth for a bit to just jam to his beats. Gotta say, he continues to impress me more and more every time. Helloooooo another 2014 obsession. To be completely honest I was so into this fresh perspective on deep house I didn't even think to take out my phone and snap a few pics. Sorry I'm not sorry, there were so much dancing to do and so little time!
Finally, let's talk vibe: Swanky, hot, the way of the future. This party was all about listening to great music and having a good time. It was not in the slightest about going bat shit crazy and blacking out or checking out all the hot bodies surrounding you (not that there was any shortage of that) - it was about socializing, mingling, meeting new people and experiencing great sound. No one was off their rocker, no one was going off the deep end - it was a great day-into-night event with a very chill vibe despite the consistent high energy. Coming home from WMC, this is the type of party I am looking for and if any of you want to join me in the search for these good vibes here in NYC ... by all means, hit me up and I'll show you a thing or two about the move we dubbed 'The Ibitha Two-Step.'
Thanks for the memories, 'Knights' of Toolroom Records vs. Stereo Productions - one of the best parties by far during WMC. Until next year...