Good Night Mr. Lewis: Gabby Mejia Breaks Up the Family at Santos

Last year at this time, and the year before that, and the year before that, I ended many of my evenings at subMercer, that Andre Balaz subterranean paradise in his Mercer Hotel. I would hang outside with lifelong friend/door guru Richard Alvarez and his sidekick Moses, or join the scene downstairs presided over by totally cool, hip, fun, temptress Gabby Mejia. Gabby was the reason to be cheerful for a mixed bag of adults who found this small joint with big music important. It was the kind of place that you didn’t have to think about "what was going on.” There was always Gabby, Richard, and Moses. There was always a great DJ, except maybe when I played, and the crowd was always sexy, always smart, and were never-looking-for-the-same-ol’-predictable programming featured around town. It was my secret spot that I told everyone about. Every summer it would close down as the Balaz crew headed to Shelter Island or other exotic lands to reboot.

Every year, when I lamented the end of summer, the knowledge that subMercer would now reopen was a reason to be cheerful. This year it hasn’t reopened and Gabby has moved on. They say it’s for renovation and I’m hoping they get it open again soon. Without Gabby I’m not sure it will be the same. It might be like Casablanca’s, Rick’s Cafe American without Rick, or Studio 54 without Steve Rubell. Often, a persona is bigger than a place. Andre Balaz didn’t get where he is without some smarts, so I figure he’ll make it right but won’t finish the "renovations" until he does.

Meanwhile the amazing Gabby Mejia is throwing a party and she has lined up all her usual and unusual suspects to make it right. It’s this Sunday in the basement of Santos Party House. It’s free. There are dozens of DJs lined up, including Arthur Baker, Stretch Armstrong, Cosmo Baker, Eli Escobar and Lloydski, Justin Strauss, Citizen Kane, Geology, Rok One, and so many worthy etceteras. I caught up with Gabby and asked her to tell me all about it.

Tell me all about the event.
The party is titled “Break Up The Family,” after the Morrissey song, because it’s a final family reunion of sorts, as the tight clan we’d formed over the last three years in subMercer is dispersing in order for wings to spread, as they purposefully should and inevitably always do. After three incredible years as subMercer’s director, and having started the first legitimate music label putting out original productions (and vinyl) for a hotel, I decided it was time to pursue new musical ventures. I stepped away from management and operations in order to focus primarily on musical programming and curating, and everyone else on the team was sort of naturally graduating onto the next phase of his/her life, too.  I thought the song was very fitting, as its lyrics denote a certain maturity in reflecting over the years and one’s own evolution, then realizing it’s time to fly the proverbial coop – but not without first wanting to see and hug all your old friends and peers that were with you along the way.

When subMercer closed for renovations, I was bowled over by the public’s reaction – all the heartfelt letters and social media testaments of the positive cultural impact we had had on the underground music scene – all by fostering an environment of creative freedom for DJs to fully express themselves and their individual styles on the decks.  I realized then that we had to get the gang back together one last time for a proper farewell, so I wrangled all our residents for a final showcase of their talents on the decks. 

And the legendary Arthur Baker is in this?
I also called Arthur Baker, who is a dear friend, mentor, and personal hero of mine, and he happily agreed to fly from London to headline the party.  Arthur is a seminal and legendary producer, who arguably changed the trajectory of dance music when he and Afrika Bambaataa and the Soul Sonic Force emerged from a late studio session one night with the groundbreaking hit "Planet Rock," which introduced the world to the revolutionary new sound of the Roland 808 drum machine.  He also went on to produce hits for New Order and Rockers Revenge, amongst others.  His music greatly influenced a lot of today’s dance music and inspired the careers of many of our DJs. It’s a great boost, too, for any DJ to get to play alongside such a musical pioneer. 

Tell me about the decision to move on…and leave the wonderful Andre Balaz family. How could you leave this gig that’s seemingly a dream?
Leaving AB was a hard decision because he was always so encouraging and gave me total creative autonomy at sub to develop and curate it as I saw fit. I’d been with the company on and off since 2004, between four hotels in NY and Miami; but in the end, I realized I had my own, independent goals I needed to pursue, and they understood and supported me in my decision. What is the legacy of subMercer?
subMercer was the best professional experience of my career thus far, and the one of which I’m most proud because we built a reputation of never compromising on the quality of the music or talent that played there. It was so intimate that it really ran like a family. There wasn’t any sort of clear vision I had for the place when I took it over.  I DJ myself, and most of my friends are DJs, so it just sort of happened very organically that it became such a music-driven club.  Once it started to come together, we really focused on making it really NY-centric to support the underground music community here.  A lot of clubs in the city these days tend to book European DJs, but we wanted to support our local community. NY has always been at the forefront of cutting-edge dance music, and we want to keep it that way. 

Nightlife in NYC is very bottle dependent. Can a standalone club survive without being in a hotel or part of a larger corporation?
No, I don’t think independent, free-standing clubs need to be bottle dependent to survive. I think you just have to have confidence, high standards, and maintain your integrity in the biz. Integrity is everything; it establishes your credibility and often adds to your longevity. When your output is consistently associated with good quality, people start to rely on that consistency. 

A woman in a managerial, programming position is rare in nightlife. What did you do to be one of the boys, or did you just say “fuck that” on day 1?
It certainly wasn’t always easy being a woman in senior management and being a music booker (two completely different jobs) – but I wear velvet gloves over my iron fists, and I’ve learned how to assert myself if/when necessary.   In the end though, that’s really all irrelevant. Once again, it’s your integrity that earns you the respect of your peers. 

You spend a lot of time in Miami and you confided in me that you will be spending more. You have a decade of excellent nightlife experience and a strong musical base. Tell me about the cultural differences between NYC and Miami besides the beach, the weather, and the Cuban sandwiches.

So much that’s great about Miami — for starters, it’s culturally Latin. There’s great music and a burgeoning art scene and Art Basel.  I’d like to bridge the two cities musically more, bringing Miami DJs up here, and vice versa. Last year, for Miami’s Winter Music Conference, I was able to put together a two-night underground party with a killer lineup that included Arthur Baker, Radio Slave, Rory Philips (who flew in just to DJ our party), and a slew of other big name DJs from LA, London, and NY, as well as too many DJs asking to jump on and play, too, after they had just headlined at Ultra. It was a ridiculous lineup that would have taken most promoters months to coordinate and organize, but I got it done in one afternoon, four days before the date of the party. 

Gabby Mejia

Bringing Down the House: Masquerade Motel & Ultra Blow Through Miami

Much was made this year of the rivalry between the Coachella of dance music (Ultra Music Festival) and the SXSW of DJs (Winter Music Conference). Historically, the two events have dovetailed during the same week in Miami. This year, however, WMC took place earlier in March while Ultra just wrapped up its 12th annual event this past weekend. The real winner, of course, is the city of Miami’s coffers, as hundreds of thousands of tourists jammed bars and hotels all month in search of a good time.

While Ultra boasted the biggest lineup and the most fans (around 150,000 over three days), seemingly all of South Beach was buzzing over Saturday’s sold out “Masquerade Motel.” The trio of Swedish DJs (Axwell, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso) put on an event to rival Ultra right on the beach under a white VIP tent, and fans were treated to a seaside experience that turned out to be such a hit that it was briefly a top trending Twitter topic worldwide over the weekend. Guests like A-Trak and Calvin Harris warmed up the crowd before Swedish House Mafia even began their set — Pharrell joined them briefly — while a very well done fashion component, the closing event of funkshion fashion week, featuring runway shows by Indashio and The Blonds, went on under the “Masquerade Motel” tent. Desperate dance music fans were offering over $500 per VIP ticket outside the pop-up venue (The early bird tickets cost $50 and sold out in 22 minutes when they first went on sale). It’s a safe bet the Swedes will resurrect the motel next year.

But most weekend warriors were in town this past weekend for Ultra. Yes, Diddy and Fiddy were in town, but at Ultra it was names like Afrojack (who lit up Twitter Saturday during his set) and Laidback Luke (who stole the show Sunday with a stellar turn that included everything from his “Timebomb” to classics such as “Better Off Alone”) who excited fans the most. Ultra is such a moneymaker for promoters that the fest, like Lollapalooza, is now expanding, with editions planned in countries like Brazil, Australia, and Spain.

Sadly, not everyone had a great weekend in Miami at Ultra and elsewhere in the city. A gang rape was reported last week at The Fontainebleau and a man died at a pool party Sunday at the Clevelander.

The Sound of Music: 4AM DJs, WMC, Women

With the Winter Music Conference blasting Miami, a great many of the DJ staples are not at their usual haunts. Sure, they often enlighten us, educate us, and take us to a different place, but all too often they play the same tracks in the same order as their brethren. With Vinyl and CD’s heading in the same direction as the Eastern Ghost Cat and the Dodo — extinction, if you didn’t catch my drift — the loss of ingenuity looms dangerously, as redundancy threatens.

Miami’s gain can be ours too, as new DJs and sounds will have a chance to spin. While the cats are away, the mice might play at a club near you. Things might be getting a bit too desperate, bookers may indeed be scraping the bottom of the barrel. Example: Rob Fernandez has asked me to spin at Pacha real soon. Don’t panic, house heads: the only house I play is at home with my Amanda. It’s a rock and roll event.

Since some people who don’t pay attention, or are maybe just a bit lost, are asking me to DJ, I think I will take up 4AM’s offer, and sign with them. The DJ/talent and management agency is hosting a WMC soiree on Thursday night at 10PM ‘til 1AM in celebration of their one year anniversary. It will be held at the Soho Beach House. Featured DJs include Jus-Ske, Jesse Marco, Ani Quinn, Brooklyn Dawn, Mia Moretti, Orazio Rispo, Phresh, Price, Sinatra, Suss One, and Theory. Now, it may become a conflict of interest if I am writing about someone I am getting work for, but that would concede the fact that there is actually interest in my talents, or lack of. I will disclose.

If I was in Miami I would have attended last night’s Def Mix the Godfathers of House Descend Official Opening Party for WMC 201, held at the Vagabond. Frankie Knuckles, David Morales, and Hector Romero were in charge of the music. The other day was International Women’s Day: a shout out to all the women in nightlife who struggle in what James Brown would surely call “A Man’s World.” Jayma Cardoza is killing it over at Lavo, and there are a few other ladies of the night out there, but the cards are stacked against them. The awareness day hits home in an industry where women are generally categorized as commodities. On the night of International Women’s Day I happened to be at a joint sipping a Diet Coke with some friends when a lovely lass left the mayhem of a promoter’s table to say hello. She thanked me earnestly, through once prettier eyes, for always taking care of her at clubs I associated with. Still drop-dead gorgeous, I imagined she cocktailed somewhere when she wasn’t getting plastered. I declined credit for her entry into clubdom, and kissed her on her cheeks. I remembered the words of Scott Lipps, head honcho over at One Model Management. He told me recently that you never see the real girls at the clubs, as they’re too busy working. So the sad scene of the “C” model, with the “C” promoter, at the see and be seen table, was sad. (Editor’s note: What? She couldn’t just be out having fun? Blowing off steam after working all day as a hedge fund analyst? You never know! Love you, Uncle Steve) I guess they aren’t all getting what they want, but maybe what they need, as the girls are indeed having fun making connections for small work, and meeting cool guys. The promoters are delivering talent to the club, which is scoring on the bottles that the suits at the adjacent table were Black-Carding. Now there is no reason to change too much, but it would be nice if owners possibly hired a few women promoters to bring some model boys to the bar. Patty Doria used to do that, and worked everywhere. Now, of course, she keeps things smooth at the Chateau Marmont in Beverly Hills. Maybe International Women’s Day should be a monthly.

The Club World Awards

For the last six years the Club World Awards have been presented at a huge gala in Miami during the Winter Music Conference. Club World Magazine, formerly known as Club Systems International Magazine, is a book strictly for the club industry. I spoke to Club World Awards’ honcho Kerri Mason who told me that, “this year’s awards ceremony was canceled because of the perception that the economy would stop many from attending the WMC.” This turned out to be only partly true and according to Kerri, “the gala will be back on next year.” I am one of the twelve judges who vote on the people or organizations that have excelled in the past year and the votes are weighted so that you vote for the best, second best, and so on. I don’t know the names of the other judges as it is a big secret – I guess it’s so they can’t be bribed — but I am perceived to be above reproach and I’m therefore allowed to show myself. Here is this year’s ballot for your interest. I will reveal the winners here exclusively, tomorrow or Wednesday.

Rank 1-6 Best Superclub 6 Circa, Toronto 3 Palladium, Acapulco 1 Pacha, New York 4 Rain, Las Vegas 2 Pure, Las Vegas 5 The Pool at Harrah’s, Atlantic City

Rank 1-6 Best Club 5 Beta, Denver 1 Cielo, New York 2 LAX, Las Vegas 4 Ruby Skye, San Francisco 6 Stereo @ Parkwest, Miami 3 Smart Bar, Chicago

Rank 1-6 Best Lounge 3 Aero Bar, Miami Beach 4 Apple Lounge, West Hollywood 6 Mynt Lounge, Miami Beach 2 Playboy Club, Las Vegas 1 Tabu Ultra Lounge, Las Vegas 5 Slide, San Francisco

Rank 1-6 Best New 2 Beta, Denver 4 Home, St. Louis 5 Lavo, Las Vegas 1 Prive, Las Vegas 6 Shrine, Mashantucket 3 Versus, Los Angeles

Rank 1-6 Best Sound System 1 Advanced Audio Technology, Glo 4 FBP Group, Body English 5 Systems By Shorty, Splash Bar 2 Mike McCray of Sound Investment & Speed of Sound, Beta 3 Louis Puig & David Padilla, Stereo @ Parkwest 6 The Pool at Harrah’s

Rank 1-5 Best Lighting System 3 Aerobar, Miami Beach 1 Lighting Methods, Glo 5 FBP Group, Lavo 2 Lighting Methods, Palladium 4 SJ Lighting, Versus Rank 1-5 Best Video System 3 FBP Group, Lavo 2 Ohm Productions, Tattoo Bar 1 SJ Lighting & Sound Investment, Rokvegas 4 Mike McCray, Beta 5 US Communications, Hawaiian Tropic Zone

Rank 1-6 Best Interior Design 6 Aramik Gragosian, Versus 4 AvroKO, Lavo 5 Deepsleep Studio, Parkwest 1 Jeffrey Beers International, Fuse 2 Niemitz Design, Shrine 3 Seed Design, Christian Audigier

Promotion Rank 1-6 Best One-Off 1 DJ Am & Travis Barker at LAX 5 Labor Day with Kaskade and Deadmau5 at Wet Republic 2 Made, Pacha & AM Only present One Night Only 4 N9Ne Group presents Midsummer’s Night Dream 3 Made Event, Sunday School for Degenerates 6 Steve Lockwood, Vegas Blondeshell Awards

Rank 1-6 Best Party 2 Summer Surprise Series at Pure 6 Aquatic at The Pool at Harrah’s 1 Dance.Here.Now. at Cielo 3 Glow at Ibiza 5 Godskitchen at Body English 4 Perfecto at Rain

Technicians Rank 1-6 Best Resident DJ 5 Colette, Smart Bar Chicago 4 DJ Vice, Lavo Las Vegas 1 Francois K, Cielo New York 6 Oscar G, Space Miami 3 Paul Oakenfold, Rain Las Vegas 2 Victor Calderone, Pacha New York

Rank 1-6 Best Resident LJ 2 Eric Moyano, Bliss Lounge New Jersey 5 Eyeball, Mixx Atlantic City 3 Jeff Novak, LAX Las Vegas 4 Jose Vargas, Glo Westbury 6 Matt Beecher, mur.mur. Atlantic City 1 Timmy Lights, Pacha New York

Rank 1-5 Best Resident VJ 5 DVDJ G-Funk, Beta Denver 2 Eyeball, Mixx Atlantic City 4 Roonie G, Saddle Ranch Los Angeles 3 VJ Psyberpixie, Set 1 United Vision, Pacha New York

Rank 1-6 Best Sound Product 3 Cerwin Vega Passive Series Subs 1 Funktion-One Dance Stack Array Engineer 4 Sencore SP495 SoundPro EX 5 Martin Audio Omniline Micro-Line Array System 6 Crest Audio CC5200 Amplifier

Rank 1-6 Best DJ Product 6 Ultrasone Pro DJ Headphones 4 Stanton Da Scratch 3 Pioneer MEP-7000 & SEP-C1 5 Allen & Heath XONE:4D 2 Denon DN-HS5500 1 Traktor Scratch Pro 2 JBL VP Series

Best LED Product 2 Megalite Axis LED 1 MBT LED Panel 4 Elation Professional FlexLED Tape 3 American DJ Accu LED MH 5 Chauvet COLORdash BATTEN

Rank 1-5 Best Video Product 1 Edirol V-8 Video Mixer 5 Green Hippo Hippotizer V3 R2 Media Servers 2 DJScreen.com DJ Screen 3 Numark ArKaos GrandVJ software 4 Sencore/Lumagen RadianceXD

Rank 1-6 Best Lighting Product 1 Robe Color Wash 2500E AT 5 Elation Professional Design 300 Series 2 Martin Professional SmartMAC 6 MADRIX – LED Lighting Control Software 3 Road Hog Full Boar 4 Chauvet Q-Spot 250 LED

Rank 1-5 Best Effect Product 4 Omnisistem Magic Box 3 MediaLas Showlaser System Infinity 5 Technological Artisans ClubCat Laser 2 X-Laser XA100G Skywriter 1 Martin RGB Laser 1.6

People’s Choice Rank 1-6 Best DJ Set 4 Danny Tenaglia “Futurism” Party 1 DJ AM & DJ Jazzy Jeff at Shrine 2 Pacha NYC presents David Guetta 3 The Martinez Brothers, ÉTÉ D’AMOUR 6 Kaskade, SF Love Fest 5 Erick Morillo at Tao Memorial Day Weekend

Service Rank 1-5 Best Bottle Service 5 Christian Audigier, Las Vegas 1 LAX, Las Vegas 4 Shrine, Mashantucket 3 Tabu Ultra Lounge, Las Vegas 2 The Bank, Las Vegas

Dave Delzio Brings Back Rock ‘n’ Roll

There’s an exploding rock ‘n’ roll scene in New York City; bands are banging everywhere, and there are more than a few options every night for this vibrant community. I was at Bowery Electric last week for the Bloody Social gig and found a super-hot following of rock models and scenesters mixed with a crowd from the Max’s Kansas City era — old-school rockers that I hadn’t seen in years were everywhere. Dave Delzio is making moves and is a force in this new rock social scene. He’s involved with the post-Snitch rock Mondays at Greenhouse — which are absolutely kicking — and is about to start a Wednesday night slated to run like the long-lasting weekly party at Marquee, which for me was the sole reason to be there. After talking about tattoos — he gets his done over at North Star Tattoo by Becca Roach, and we decided that he’s going to hook me up for my first ink job — we managed to get in a quick chat about the projects he’s currently working on.

Are you a club promoter? Is that what you would call it? I actually own an entertainment company called Rock Box Entertainment, and I just partnered with MoodSwing 360, which is an entertainment talent agency co-owned by Ricky Greenstein and Johnny Maroney, who book DJs and live acts. I’m coming in to bring more live acts and a different dimension to the agency — bringing more of the rock side into it and just expanding upon what they have. Right now we’ve got everybody from the Good Charlotte boys — Joel and Benji Madden — to Tommy Lee, DJ Enferno, The Crooklyn Clan, and a whole mix of artists.

So your focus is on booking talent? Right now I’m getting into a lot of concert production, and the main focus of my business is producing major events.

Where are you throwing events currently? We’re finishing up with SXSW, and then we’ll be working on the Winter Music Conference and the Coachella festival. My partners are down in Austin for SXSW now, and I’ll be heading down to Miami for the WMC this week.

What are you guys doing at the WMC? We have a few things going on: we’re doing the Moodwing360 party with all our artists, the pre-record release party at the Fontainebleau for LMFAO, who have their single “I’m in Miami Bitch” all over the radio; we’re hosting Samantha Ronson, DJ Chachi, and DJ Enferno at the Gansevoort rooftop pool on the 26th and a few other events.

So what are you trying to accomplish at these music festivals? We’re trying to establish the brand, market our talent, and find the next big artists to come out. We’re good at finding new, great talent.

In addition to that, you’ve used your connections to promote certain party nights in New York. What joints are you working at right now? With MoodSwing, we’re programming the talent on Tuesdays for Cain — we’ve had DJ Riz, DJ Chachi, and DJ Inferno recently — Sundays at Southside, and I’m looking forward to starting the new party at Greenhouse on Wednesdays. We’re going to program good DJ talent in there and have a mix of uptown and downtown promoters, so there’s a nice, cultural mix of pretty people — an upscale, sexy crowd with an edge.

So you’re going to be bringing in talent and all of your rock ‘n’ roll friends? I’m excited about it. I want to make it like the nights at Marquee from the get-go — that rock ‘n’ roll vibe, but still upscale and classy. Wednesday nights were always a cool night.

Why Wednesday? Wednesday is good, but I think it’s always been a tough night. Yeah, if you don’t have a great party, no one’s going to come out, but it reminds me of Disco 2000 and Marquee Wednesdays, which were always great. Generally speaking, it’s an industry night. Monday used to be the industry night, but now everybody goes out on Monday. For example, our Monday night parties at Snitch. That was a party that lasted for a long time; it was its own beast. It grew horns, and we took it on for a long time.

I’ve been making statements in my column saying that I don’t think there are really any great clubs, but I do believe that there are some great nights. In my opinion, the rock ‘n’ roll nights are banging, like the Monday nights over at Greenhouse. I stopped by Lit on Wednesday night with my buddy, and although Lit has been around for awhile, it’s still great. You go in there and it’s a hip-hop vibe, with model girls standing around and rockers all over the place. And also, if you look at a lot of the new clubs opening up now, you can see that the bottle service is really starting to swing. I’ve heard clubs are opening up and instead of bottle service, they’re offering pitchers of alcohols now.

The rock ‘n’ roll scene seems to be thriving; there are a lot of great bands being booked, concerts are selling out, and the scene is vibrant — it reminds me of the early 80s in this town. I’m working with a lot of bands right now. I’m currently managing a band called The Dirty Pearls — they’re headlining and selling out the Bowery Ballroom every time they play. And we’re touring with Brett Michaels this weekend for the Rock of Love tour, doing the opening act for that. We have a lot of really interesting things coming up, and I think that during the recession times, the rebel mentality really starts to come back. I live in the East Village, and if you walk down the street now, it seems like it’s getting back to where it was in the early 90s a little bit.

Yes, I think there’s a rebirth of nightlife — certainly in the rock ‘n’ roll community. If you’ve noticed, even in the John Varvatos store which moved into the CBGBs space, there’s now a monthly rock ‘n’ roll party where we’re having New York City bands perform and then do the after-party at Bowery Electric.

The rock community has never been rich — it’s a lot of people who are trying to make it, so they don’t necessarily suffer in this recession. As traditional ways to make money diminish, I think this scene is expanding and become much more vibrant. New York definitely took a break from the rock scene for a long time with bottle service; the lounges took over Manhattan for a long time, and it’s good to see it come back again. But you can see the change now, because every DJ mixes at least some kind of mash-up of rock ‘n’ roll in their sets now — even the old DJs who were playing nothing but hip-hop and house are playing rock ‘n’ roll now.

Scratch That: Winter Music Conference 2008

imageRaging house music and lots o’ headphone hair can mean only one thing: Winter Music Conference is back. The 23rd annual dance music conference got Miami’s South Beach partying even harder than usual last week, with nonstop events ranging from remixing and editing workshops to DJ spin-off contests, to the International Dance Music Awards. The conference welcomed industry professionals from over 62 countries, but in recent years the declining dollar and all-powerful Euro has lead to skyrocketing prices that have been accused of muscling out Americans and making Miami the new discount St. Tropez. “I think WMC gets a bad rap because in the past it’s been sweaty house boys on ecstasy, but now it’s radio stations, label reps, and diverse talents from all over the world,” says Morgans Hotel Group’s VP of Entertainment Ben Pundole.

Contrary to rumors, Pundole claims the conference has not become a Euro club kid Mecca, but instead offers events for all musical palettes. “Now you’ve got the indie electro parties, the techno, the Happy House in the Sunshine, along with all the Hed Kandi,” referring to the dance music label. “[The conference is] definitely a lot more upscale than it has been, due to talent diversity and a bigger money-spending crowd. But now it’s more for everybody, and the stigma attached has slowly dissipated. People who used to be wary of WMC aren’t afraid to come anymore.”

“House music has come a long way in the past ten years, and is now far more diverse than it has ever been,” Pundole continues. He rejects claims that the conference has become too commercial as house music creeps closer to American mainstream. “I think right now although it’s somewhat commercial, it’s not overly so. A few years ago, [WMC] seemed a little trashy and in your face,” but with brand sponsors like Stoli and Ultra Music Festival and merchandising, organizers can now book more mainstream talent amidst the sea of aspiring DJs and turntable seminars.

“This year we saw more soul in the entire conference,” says Pundole. As the Shore Club and the Delano, both Morgans hotels, are generally considered the hotel hosts of the festivities, he’s privy to every emerging conference trend. “Now it’s not all about hard techno.” He explains that while WMC is still largely about scouting new house talent, most of hotel events have moved towards acts with more diverse appeal. Popular examples included Erykah Badu poolside at the Delano, Macy Gray’s live performance alongside David Morales and Frankie Knuckles at the Def Mix/Pacha Ibiza-hosted Shine at the Shelborne, and the infamous Misshapes at the Shore Club.

Saturday’s standout performances included world-famous Tiesto at Mansion, Marc Ronson at the Florida Room, and Eric Murillo at Mokai. Hed Kandi hosted the official closing event showcase at Nikki Beach, which kicked off bright and early at 11 a.m. Then the label hosted a post-closing pool party at Shore Club Sunday afternoon that ran late into the night because, well, why not?

Despite Pundole’s insistence that the conference has finally cleaned up its act, he warns that partygoers should be sure to carefully choose which events fit their tastes, rather than dive headfirst into a week of nonstop club beats. “WMC can be the best week of your life or the worst, depending on how you do it.”