Every March, the cities of Miami and Miami Beach welcome tens of thousands of out-of-towners (and their money) for Winter Music Conference, Ultra Music Festival, Miami Music Week, and hundreds of satellite parties. It's a tradition dating back to 1985, when the first WMC was held. And while the organizations have seen their fair share of controversy and change over the years, they remain to this day one of the leading economic stimulus packages these cities have got.
Miami's March madness is the starting bell of the American dance music festival season—the first global gathering of industry execs, label managers, artists, DJs, producers, PR representatives, press, and fans. Many artists use this moment to unveil new sounds, tracks, proteges, and collaborations. Unlike EDMBiz at Vegas or the Amsterdam Dance Event, the emphasis in Miami is party party party, and whatever business deals are stuck happen poolside between drinks. It's a giant pool party hangout summer camp for the EDM industry, basically, and the fans reap the benefits.
In 2016, things are a little complicated. For the second time in history, Ultra and WMC have parted ways, scheduling themselves during two different weeks, with the former going down the weekend of March 18-20, and the latter taking place the following week, from March 21-24. That said, most of the dankest parties, showcases, and pop-ups are happening the week of Ultra. Things usually start poppin' off the Tuesday before, and go hard until the sun rises Monday morning. Our schedule here encompasses parties from Wednesday, March 16, to Sunday, March 20. We made sure to round up a variety of sounds and styles, so there's a little something for everyone. We even showed love to the City of Miami itself. Rave on, you party animals.
1. Basement Miami Music Week Presented by THUMP
There's a whole week of high-grade performances going down at the Edition's "underground" microclub, and since we helped with the programming, it's dance vibes you can trust. The fun kicks off Tuesday, with Jamie Jones and Lee Foss. Wednesday brings Acid Pauli, with more sets from Eduardo Castillo, Satori and more. Thursday is Richie Hawtin's Prototypes tour with some very special guests, while Friday is all about Seth Troxler's Big Tittie Surprise. Saturday gets deep with Maceo Plex on his Ellum Night with guests such as Shall Ocin and Gardens of Gods, while Sunday finishes strong with a very special Disco, Funk, and Soul Event from Carl Cox.
Basement, Tuesday through Sunday. Tickets here.
2. Nervous Presents Made in Miami
Miami Music Week is a celebration of dance music from around the world, bur since the whole industry uses the city as its playground, it's only right that visitors take some time out to appreciate the artists who are living, breathing, and mixing every day in the 305. Nervous Records gets that, so on Wednesday, the New York-based label opens the decks to Miami-born bosses Oscar G, Robbie Rivera, Cocodrills, Ralph Falcon, George Acosta, Lazaro Casanova, Jesse Perez, and El Chino Dreadlion. Prepare your body for a mix of Latin-infused house, techno, Miami bass, and all the culturally infused flavors of the city.
The Raleigh, Wednesday at 12 p.m. Tickets here.
3. All Gone Pete Tong
Pete Tong's annual pool party is a legendary all-star event. The celebrated DJ and BBC Radio 1 host pulls all the strings and nabs an army of famous friends and rising stars for a musical gathering of the minds that can't be matched. This year's party is a back-to-back extravaganza, featuring doubles matches from Steve Lawler and wAFF, Joris Voorn and Kolsch, Armand Van Helden and Jackmaster, Pete Tong and Andrea Oliva, and more. This is one of those parties that leads to classic MMW moments. Plus, there's a dope pool.
Surfcomber, Thursday at 12 p.m. Tickets here.
4. Paradise Miami
The streets are talking heavy about this massive house throwdown. The Ibiza party series import has spent the last few years making a name for itself in Miami, and this year is set to be bigger than ever. Featuring performances from Jamie Jones, Matthew Dear, The Martinez Brothers, Bob Moses, Skream, and a whole lot more. The Paradise crew stepped up the production to match the big name players, claiming an "immersive" rave experience. Think old-school warehouse vibes meets futuristic technology. With that lineup, even if it was just a big, dark, empty room, Paradise Miami would still make this list.
Mana Wynwood, Thursday night at 11 p.m. Tickets here.
5. Dirtybird B2B Throwdown
There is no crowd more loyal than the Dirtybird audience, and the San Fran-based label always brings the big bad bass to Miami in an extra special way. This year, it forgoes the traditional backyard barbecue of years past in favor of a head-to-head showcase that's sure to ruffle tail feathers. The Claudefather will preside as Justin Martin, Shiba San, J. Phlip, Kill Frenzy, and the whole damn flock share the stage. Pairs haven't been announced, so you'll have to attend to see who jumps in and out. The Nice Age Showcase holds it down on the nearby second stage, with performances from Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs, Jacques Greene, special guest Tiga, and more. Things are going to get weird, y'all.
Trade, Thursday night at 10 p.m. Tickets here.
6. Above and Beyond
Whether they're performing on the main stage at Ultra or hosting their own extravagant showcase, fans go crazy for Above & Beyond every year. In 2015, the band dropped jaws with their over-the-top production during an intimate performance in the Wynwood Arts District. This year, they'll throw down at the old RC Cola plant, famous for its run-down look and graffiti-covered walls. It's a beloved cultural landmark, and there's no telling what Above & Beyond's crew will do with it.
RC Cola Plant, Thursday night at 10 p.m. Tickets here.
7. Disclosure Wildlife
Expectations were high last year when Disclosure announced a pool-side edition of their traveling Wild Life series, but dreams crashed hard when the organizers cancelled the event, citing a lack of proper sound permits. We're crossing our collective fingers that things go off without a hitch this time around. The English brothers headline the night with a DJ set, with warm-up performances from Boys Noize, Dusky, Heidi, The Black Madonna, and Will Clarke. There's going to be plenty of booty, grooves, and sunshine.
Delano Hotel, Thursday at 2 p.m. Tickets here.
8. Dada Life Presents the Magnificent Rave Spa
You've heard of a happy ending massage, but what about a massage with a "champagne ending"? Dada Life is ready to make your weirdest dreams come true at the first-ever Dada Life Rave Spa. The Swedish duo knows how to throw an interactive rager, and this one offers a banana mineral thermal bath, the aforementioned massage, hundreds of bananas hanging from the trees, and not-so-soft spa music from What So Not, Hotel Garuda, Wax Motif, Wuki, and more. Robe up and jump in the "champagne fountain of youth" while you still can.
Raleigh Hotel, Saturday at 12 p.m. Tickets here.
9. Get Lost
This crowd favorite is all about vibes. It's headed by Damian Lazarus, who just may be the spiritual leader of dance music. There's plenty of rooms offering different sights and sounds, while lush carpets on the floor offer places to lay back and let your mind wander. Time stops within these weird walls, and the party goes 24 hours or more. And it's the 11th edition of Get Lost in Miami, which means Lazarus and his friends at the Crosstown Rebels have this whole thing down to a science. With more than 50 artists on the bill—including Pete Tong, Benoit & Sergio live, Felix Da Housecat with Jamie Principle, Sasha, Soul Clap, secret guests, and way more—it's kind of the party to end all parties.
Venue TBA, Saturday morning at 5 a.m. Tickets here.
10. Sunday School for Degenerates "The Reunion"
Presented by Electric Zoo's MADE Events, this 24-hour-plus party marathon is legendary in the Miami scene. It hasn't graced the season since 2012, but the shorty bus is finally ready to come back, and the crowd is ravenous. Sets from ALX, Caleb Calloway, Cassy, Guti live, and more will keep the crowd dancing from sunrise to sunset and sunrise again—if their limbs hold out, that is.
Surfcomber Hotel, Sunday at 12 p.m. Tickets here.
Miami lost a true gem when local DJ Gooddroid moved to New York, taking her beloved underground vogue night Catwalk with her. The good thing about Miami Music Week is that it brings all the wanderers back home for a few special nights, and all the dancing queens are coming back for another shady competition. Who will take home the respect and money in categories for realness, vogue performance, runway, and more? Whatever the outcome, the whole city wins when a culture so vibrant yet so underrepresented gets a moment of shine. This will absolutely be the only event like it all week, so don't miss it.
1306, Sunday night at 10 p.m. Tickets here.
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