At the end of every March, thousands and thousands of dance music fans from across the world converge on Miami, Florida for a week of networking and nonstop, nearly 24-hour parties. In previous years, most of the events convened around the annual Winter Music Conference, a long-running DJ/producer/label head convention that launched the whole spring-break-like week.
However, over the past decade, the centerpiece of the Winter Music Conference week rapidly became the associated Ultra Music Festival, which grew over the years from a one-off party on the beach to a two-day affair across a massive public park.
This year marks a watershed: Ultra Music Festival and Winter Music Conference have separated. The actual conference will be taking place earlier in March, with Ultra reigning supreme during the usual last week of the month in which both events previously happened. This turned out to be a bad move on Winter Music Conference, the organization — in an international mutiny, the major DJs and labels are still all having their parties that last week in March, while Ultra Music Festival itself has expanded to a whopping three days.
If you’re an electronic music fanatic, this spring week in Miami is not to be missed, on par on the international party circuit with the Ibiza season and the summer festival circuit. International exchange rates are in your favor, so if you decide to make the trip, here are five absolute must-attend events.
DJ Mag’s Pool Parties
The Shelborne Hotel, Miami Beach
Wednesday, March 23, 2011 through Sunday, March 27
DJ Mag has long held some of the wildest daytime pool parties — as well as night club parties — during Winter Music Conference. But with the festivities split up this year into two weeks in March, the magazine is one of the few to host events during both time intervals. Coinciding with Ultra Music Festival, there is a full slate of both daytime and nighttime parties, occupying the poolside of the Shelborne hotel during sunlight and the hotel’s in-house club, Shine, at night. Highlights of the week include an Ovum label party on Thursday, March 24 featuring Josh Wink and Steve Bug, as well as a pool party on Saturday, March 26 sponsored by Pacha Ibiza. Visit wantickets.com/shelborne for the full lineup and ticket details.
Simian Mobile Disco’s Delicatessen Party
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Two days before they take the stage for a live set at the Ultra Music Festival, Simian Mobile Disco will host its own party, dubbed Delicatessen, at the intimate, indoor-outdoor club Eve. To warm up, they’ll be playing a DJ set rather than a full-on live performance. But the two Jameses (Ford and Shaw) are walking musical encyclopedias who know how to work a crowd into a lather, so this is not to be missed. They’re joined on the decks for the evening by Berlin tech-house master Radio Slave, and New York underground club fixtures JDH and Dave P. Visit simianmobiledisco.co.uk for full details.
Grand Central, Miami
Thursday, March 24, 2011
The Hard Festival originally started out as a one-off event in Los Angeles, but has since mushroomed into an American brand of loud, rambunctious parties for a relatively young crowd of up-for-it ravers. The Hard sound is brash and in-your face, favoring pummeling basslines and high beats per minute. All the better if you’re all hopped up on caffeine, though (wink, wink). Headlining the event is the multi-genre production wizard Diplo, alongside Canadian electro-house artist Tiga. Support comes from Ed Banger stars like Brodinski, DJ Mehdi, Busy P, and SebastiAn, as well as the seemingly omnipresent Tinie Tempah. Visit hardfest.com for full details.
Ultra Music Festival
Bicentennial Park, Miami
Friday, March 25, 2011 through Sunday, March 27, 2011
Over its nearly decade-and-a-half of existence, Ultra has expanded from a homegrown, oceanfront rave to one of the largest dance music festivals in the world. This year marks the first it’ll sprawl across three whole days of programming, during which nearly the entire world of dance music, full stop, will play. This includes trance titans like Tiesto abd Armin van Buuren, as well as dubstep dons like Rusko, as well as live acts like Cut Copy, Empre of the Sun, and even ’80s synth-pop legends Erasure. Add in there a head-spinning array of other favorites, from David Guetta to Carl Cox to MSTRKRFT to Royksopp to Crystal Castles to Klaxons to Chromeo to Tinie Tempah to Simian Mobile Disco. The music starts early and ends late, but early enough to hit the town for an array of all-night afterparties. Visit ultramusicfestival.com for full details.
Swedish House Mafia’s Masquerade Motel
Venue TBA, Miami
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Swedish House Mafia gives Ultra a run for its money on Saturday, with its own megawatt daytime party that gathers together some of the biggest names in house. On their own, the trio of Axwell, Steve Angello, and Sebastian Ingrosso are enough of an international draw, but they’ve upped the ante by inviting along megastars like Pete Tong, Armand Van Helden, Calvin Harris, Dirty South, and turntable whiz A-Trak. More guests are still to be announced, and they surely won’t disappoint. The actual venue for the party has yet to be announced, so visit swedishhousemafia.com for full details.