Wednesday, March 22, 9:10 p.m. Stupidly, I ask the girls if any of them want me to take their picture. Not shy in the least, the girls produce tiny digital cameras from everywhere and wave them in my direction. They sit pretty for NapkinNights.com's Tracy Lee, and then remain still as we work our way through the mountain of photo equipment.
It's my first of seven nights touring Miami's hot spots, the Ultra Music Festival and the various pastel, boutique hotels with their Art Deco lobbies and lush pool groves. To put it lightly (and in surfing terms), I'm stoked. The last time I visited Miami I was far more into playing with Barbie dolls than partying with them, but, oh, how times have changed. We emerge from the lobby where the unfazed front-desk staff has been watching the proceedings and step out into the street.
"I'll show you how to catch a cab," says one bold city gal. She practically launches herself into the oncoming traffic, raises one slender, elegant arm like a ballerina and strikes a tempting pose. With our fleet assembled, we are soon cruising through South Beach like rock stars. At the petit Astor Hotel, the girls are treated to a brief but delicious meal by the Light Group's owner, Andrew Sasson, and managing partners Sean Christie and Andy Masi. Overseeing the event are Director of Marketing Jake Saady and Jet Marketing Coordinator Steve Lockwood, who keeps a remarkable cool as he pre-bands us to stave off drama at the nightclub. Jet Operations Manager Orlando Oquendo and VIP hosts Zee Zandi and Brett Rubin have the interesting task of keeping the herd together.
At the Opium Group's Mansion Nightclub we are shepherded through the swelling crowd and directly into the VIP room, where hot hip-hop is already banging. Light Group resident DJ Crooked (a.k.a. Richard Sung) takes the helm, and before my eyes can even adjust the ladies are dancing on the tables. The velvet ropes slam shut, keeping the Hotness in and the Not-ness out.
Obviously the party has arrived.
The club's name pretty much drives its theme: chandeliers and sconces, a curved staircase, dramatic and erotic murals, ancient family photos. And what mansion would be complete without a suit of armor? Outside the VIP room, the remainder of the 40,000-square-foot space is filled with the sounds of DJ Max Graham, who can barely been seen above the crowd forming on stage in front of his rig.
T-shirt-cutting phenom Adam Saaks is slicing and dicing up Ed Hardy tees for the ladies till only the thinnest strands of cloth remain to hold the vintage tattoo designs roughly where they ought to be, eschewing modesty and leaving little to our imaginations. Despite the unseasonable chill sweeping through Miami this week, clothing is scarce all around; fortunately everyone's staggeringly gorgeous, so you won't hear me complaining.
At a small table right in the middle of the club, I am shocked to find two-time No. 1 DJ in the world, Tiesto, just hanging out! He is joined by Felix Da Housecat and DJ Behrouz (wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with his own name). Awed by my brush with electronic music's greatest—isn't that the whole purpose of the Winter Music Conference anyway?—I repair to my hotel. Much energy will be needed for what the rest of the week holds in store ...