Now that the dust has settled…now that I’m not taking 3 hour naps after work and I’ve actually unpacked my suitcase…I wish to share with you the lessons I learned from my week in Miami. Maybe you can relate, maybe you can be inspired, or maybe you can just be entertained by the musings of someone who’s finally coming into her own.
Lesson #1: BEFRIEND EVERYONE
On Tuesday when I landed I knew I had to hit the ground running. My first night was at Mansion for Above & Beyond, Beckwith, and Norin & Rad. Many of the friends I had made over the past year came out, and it felt more like the first day of school, where everyone was excited to reunite. Myon & Shane54 and Norin & Rad greeted me with hugs and smiles, and we played catch up while Beckwith laid down a deep foundation in a lengthy 2.5-hour set. By 12:30am the place was buzzing with anticipation for Above & Beyond. I should have realized that even DJs were drawn to A&B’s music as well. But alas, it was still shocking to see An21, Gareth Emery, and even Cosmic Gate.
Lesson #2: BE SPONTANEOUS
BKC took a chance and went to Sirius XM lounge where they had the time of their lives for two days hanging out with some of the biggest names in dance music. Feeling a little jealous from their adventure, I decided to have one of my own. Beckwith invited me along to dinner, but I had no idea just how amazing it would turn out to be. Hiding in plain sight at a tiny sushi restaurant on South Beach I sat down between Beckwith and Dusky (and eventually Tony from Above & Beyond) and tackled sushi boats and sake before hitting up dive bar on the way to Treehouse to see Scuba and Stacey Pullen.
Lesson #3: ENJOY THE QUIET MOMENTS IN-BETWEEN
Dinner was the crowning jewel of my week in Miami. What we fail to realize is that DJs are people just like us. We spend so much time seeking their attention, clawing our way to the booth for that moment of glory that we forget these people do the same things that we do. When they’re not busy racing between cities, spending every spare moment producing, they sit down with their friends and tell stories about their childhood, about things they observe on the road. These are the moments I remember more: not the moment my favorite song is dropped, but the lives behind the people who drop them.
Lesson #4: TRY SOMETHING NEW
After a seemingly relaxed night, I decided to explore more pool parties and artists I had never seen before, so making the move to Mixmash’s Annual Pool Party seemed like the right choice. It was there I discovered Chocolate Puma, a legendary duo that has been playing together for more than 20 years (longer than most of you readers have been alive). This could be one of the best lessons we forget to learn. You’d be surprised what you discover when you’re not chasing after Alesso at LIV or Hardwell or even Armin Van Buuren. The earlier you attend a party, the more surprised you may be with what you find. This goes double for anyone attending a festival like Ultra. There is life outside the Mainstage. Discover it. Enjoy it.
Lesson #5: SHUT UP AND DANCE
Speaking of which, Thursday Night’s Pryda vs. Deadmau5 holds the torch for being the best night party I experienced. This new version of Deadmau5 - free from the tyranny of Ultra Records - has birthed this tremendous new wave of music. Not to sound crass here, but if you weren’t there, you’ve completely missed out and I hope that a Prydz/Deadmau5 b2b never happens again - it was that special. Those hours where I was so lost in the music, where I couldn’t tell when Eric stopped and Joel began, should never be replicated. Only when I heard the familiar chords of 'The Veldt', followed by 'Everyday' to close the set could I tell who was where. With MMW centered upon bottle service and confetti, around people constantly name dropping to get where they need to be, this was a necessary break from the norm. I didn’t care about taking photos, about remembering track lists to regurgitate the next day; all I cared about was dancing.
Lesson #6: STRAY OFF THE BEATEN PATH
That same vein carried me through to the Wynwood District of Miami, where I enjoyed the first Anjunadeep in Miami party. As if the Anjunafam hadn’t already been the highlight of my trip, this art gallery turned into a 9-hour oasis tucked away just miles from Ultra Music Festival was the perfect way to spend a hazy Saturday afternoon. DJs came out in full force to support the lineup, which included Kidnap Kid, Manik, and Lancelot. In what seemed like more of a backyard BBQ than a major record label’s party, the crowd mingled flawlessly with the DJs, a completely different vibe than what I was used to. I’ll admit though, butterflies ran rampant in my stomach as I worked up the courage to talk to Ilan Bluestone. The accessibility of some of my favorite DJs/Producers was slightly intimidating, but I just kept reminding myself that they were regular people.
You’d be surprised how many times I had to tell myself over the course of a week.
Lesson #7: ALWAYS STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF
While a lazy Saturday afternoon was fun, my time in Miami was running out. I wanted to really sing and dance. What better way to do it than with Tritonal at No Sugar Added? I had seen some amazing acts and discovered some incredible music along the way, but I also came to Miami to see some familiar faces. No Sugar Added marked a year since I saw Tritonal open the ASOT 600 stage at Ultra, where my love for them was cemented. No matter how much my career and musical tastes evolve over the years, Chad and Dave will always be “home base” for me; two people who welcome me with open arms with music that always makes me happy. It’s the reason why I travel hours to see them, why I sing the loudest and dance the hardest at every show. When you discover music and artists that make you feel that free, you do whatever it takes to feel that way over and over again.
Lesson #8: GO BIG OR GO HOME
My final day in Miami culminated in the party I had waited an entire year for: The Anjunabeats Pool Party at The Raleigh. Two weekends of Ultra caused me to miss last year’s party, and I refused to miss it again, even if it meant changing my flight and completely winging it on Sunday Night. The night took another wacky turn, which continued with having dinner with Jaytech and a cast of characters after the party, before heading to Full On Ferry at Mansion and running into Tyler Sherritt. While I assumed the night would be over, Tyler and I somehow ended up at Space for Drumcode where I fell asleep on the dance floor after being awake for 48+ hours (true story; shoutout to his buddy Alex for catching me before I completely ate it).
This trip taught me so much I didn’t expect to learn, and really opened my eyes to what’s important to me. Not only do I feel inspired, but I already know how I want to tackle next year’s Winter Music Conference. To the new friends I made last week: THANK YOU! The memories I made this year will never been forgotten and I can’t wait to see you all again soon!
For photos from The Dream Hotel, Anjunadeep, and Anjunabeats during WMC, visit Facebook.com/kspencephotos. To buy any of the dope gear you saw the BKC Squad wear down in Miami, head to our store ASAP!