JRL
NIGHTVISION with Humberto Guida
Humberto Guida is a pop journalist and comedian based in Los Angeles who regularly finds himself in curious situations, as he explores the nefarious corners, people, and trends of contemporary nightlife. Follow his misadventures in clubland and run-ins with the wildest party people in the country right here on Clubplanet’s off-the-wall blog... Humberto's Nightvision.

Whacky Things Happening At Night These Days

posted on 09.19.2011

Nightlife is getting more entertaining in Los Angeles. Seriously. It used to be that a hot spot, some fresh music, and a cool vibe was enough to get party people out. It turns out some of us need more to keep us on the hook, like some actual entertainment before, during, or after the party. We have such ADD in this town (there’s something in the water!).
Probably the funkiest showcase-cum-club night is Point Break at the Dragonfly in Hollywood. Produced by twisted club kids, the Boulet Bros. (the guys behind the infamous Miss Kitty’s Cabaret that gave artists like Mickey Avalon their start), the Point Break weekly features re-enactments of that classic cult movie every Saturday night. It’s a freaking riot.
A regular cast plays all the big roles from the movie, but they choose the Keanu Reeves character from the audience. They hold up huge signs with the lines for them to read off. Audience participation is always encouraged, and their point is always proved. Even a drunk chick from the club doing a cold read can do as good an acting job as Keanu Reeves. If you go, make sure to purchase yourself a “survival kit” at the door for a dollar (a raincoat), since they splash a lot of water and fake blood around.

No word on what Keanu thinks of this production. But Marilyn Manson likes it so much he catches shows regularly. After the production the party turns into an electro-kink party, replete with old and new school booty bass music and continuous stage shows featuring spanks for the party people.

Sticking to high-brow culture, I attended a spoken word at one of the coolest spots in LA. The spot is a “speakeasy” called R Bar, in Korea Town. You need a password to get in. I don’t remember how I got mine, so just investigate. But the dark and subdued bar comes alive with funky music and oddballs till late into the night. And strangely enough, being that it’s in Korea Town I never see many Koreans. Oh, hipsters…

Now, I don’t go to spoken words. Yes, I’m a writer, I’m a comic, and I love music and art, so you’d assume I have a notebook full of poetry. But I can’t stand listening to wannabe beatniks spouting off prose in some staccato pentameter about how much they’re misunderstood by the insensitive world around them. If they feel the need to get self-involved shit off their chest, write them as lyrics to a rock song and find a band to back you up, cause your poems on their own can be headache inducing; not to mention a total buzzkill. But this spoken word was different. It’s people going up and telling funny stories about their lives, usually party-related. And then they get to play a track off their iPod in between. I played David Bowie’s “Modern Love” over and over again.

And finally, I attended a kind event I have never been to, and probably would never have gone to had it not been over at the historic rock venue, Key Club. It was a live wrestling show produced by indie wrestling personality Ryan “Smiley” Katz called Fight Night located on the Strip that segued into the more usual rocker affair featuring bands like Phoenix Down. Now, I’m more an MMA guy than a wrestling fan (my mom told me that wrestling and Santa Claus were fake when I was really young, and it ruined both the WWF and Christmas for years to come), but I do recall for a brief period I did enjoy the characters of the WWF Saturday morning cartoon and the ladies of G.L.O.W. And I’ll always love Hulk Hogan. I even partied with him once at Mansion on South Beach. Boy, can the Hulkster drink vodka!

When you see it close up, with a screwdriver in hand, this wrestling business is pretty entertaining. They actually do slam each other good and I noticed a few misplaced knees really do land on the heads of the wrestlers. The audience looks down onto the ring from the booths and second story cavernous confines of the historic Key Club, yelling insults at various indie wrestling stars. The shenanigans outside the ring are fairly amusing. This shit is the most interactive thing I’ve ever done.

But the guy who stole the show didn’t wrestle at all. He was a luchador superstar, and according to his introduction, Mexico’s “most successful used car salesman.” He is Manny Peeples. The guy doesn’t do anything violent or acrobatic. Rather, he comes out in his custom-crazy outfit, fashion forward luchador mask, a beer in hand, and offers a few astute observations. He also proceeds to rag on everyone from the hostess, a hot Asian sensation called Kim Lai Ying Ling, to the luchadores he brought from Mexico to wrestle. “I don’t know if these people have Telemundo. Have another beer, it will make sense later,” Peeples told the crowd in his proto-typical accent, to which they obliged.

So next time you go out, pass by a party that is also a show, or a show that is partly a party. It gives you something to talk about when you’re soaking up the alcohol at a late night diner wondering what you’re going to do with your life. I decided I want to dance.

LA Rave Riot on the Walk of Fame - Clubplanet's Take

posted on 07.28.2011

In case some of you haven’t read it in the news, a “rave riot” broke out Los Angeles this week. That’s right, several thousand ravers showed up and then shut down the busiest part of Hollywood Blvd. It wasn’t a flash mob. It was just supposed to be a free set by Kaskade outside the screening of Electric Daisy Carnival Experience at Grauman's Chinese Theater.

DJ Kaskade proved he has a lot of loyal fans when he encouraged his followers to come out to Hollywood Blvd with this Tweet earlier in the day: “Today@6pm in Hollywood @Mann's Chinese Theatre. ME+BIG SPEAKERS+MUSIC=BLOCK PARTY!!! RT!”

Kids showed up, happy color beads and all. But when the crowd grew over capacity and interrupted traffic (I have no idea where these kids parked…) the cops came to bust up the large but peaceful crowd. When that happened a few rabble rouser ravers broke some windows and smashed a cop car. That’s when the shit hit the fan. Police in riot gear and legion formations, armed with bean bag guns, steamrolled through the boulevard. A police car was set on fire, according to multiple news reports. I didn’t see that, though.

Yes, I was there. I got on the seen late, about 30 minutes after the initial disturbances. What I did see can be viewed in what I filmed on my phone. I interviewed a few cool raver kids who seemed like they just wanted to have a good time (and I ran into my comedian friend Michael Lenoci).

The LAPD shut down Hollywood Boulevard to traffic and forced businesses along the Walk of Fame to close their doors, keeping some customers trapped inside. Traffic was snarled for miles (even more than it usually is). Police and news helicopters hovered over head. It was a pretty hardrcore reaction by the city.

In the middle of it all, DJ Kaskade sent out multiple Tweets, calling for calm and entreating the crowd to disperse.

"EVERYONE NEEDS TO GO HOME NOW! I DON'T WANT THIS TO REFLECT BADLY ON EDM OR WHAT WE ARE ABOUT," he tweeted. "BE RESPECTFUL AND CHILL OUT!!"

So what do I think about this? Well, it wasn’t really a riot. Just poor crowd control for a flash mob like gathering by the cops. It wasn’t like the kids were out of control before they showed up, unless you count having a huge crowd on a public street out of control. That happened after the cops became aggressive.

Color me anti-climatic. Call me an apologist for kids wanting to do something on  a big scale. Call me a sucker for rave culture and spontaneous human congregations. But what simply happened is that Kaskade has a hell of a lot of fans, and they all wanted to hear him spin. They all wanted to have fun. That and the fact the cops and the tourists got scared of the colorfully clothed, smiley faced, diluted pupil’d, dancing youth. The thugs you saw starting trouble were not there to see Kaskade. The handful who threw rocks and set fire to a cop car, those kids weren’t cool. But the rest were. Yeah, I said it…and what? Get your rave on.

I Was a Florida Raver - Chapter 1 : The Edge

posted on 04.27.2011

Back in the day, I was a sneaky kid growing up in the urban oasis they carved out of a steamy, sticky South Florida swamp…Miami. The 305 is a uniquely sleezy, but soulful city, an interesting place to come of age, to say the least. For a significant portion of my adolescence, you could say I was a raver. Remember those? Almost every weekend, and often several times in between, I’d head out with my semi-delinquent friends, pop some pills, and lock into the beats all night, straight through the following day.

This was the mid-to-late '90s. The rave scene was still mostly underground. Hell, they were still called “raves.” Like other great musically-driven sub-cultures and youth-movements that came before it, the rave scene seemed like something literally out of this world and ahead of its time. It was matched only by what hippies did at acid-parties in places like Haight-Ashbury, parties also referred to as “all night raves.” But unlike anything that has ever preceded them, modern raves were abstract and beyond words, mostly because everyone was on planet E and could hardly muster a coherent sentence.

I’ll try to put my experiences from those days into words now, because I think the time is right to look back. The '80s revival is winding down and the return of the '90s is upon us. A decade after being vilified to death by the authorities and eroded from the wear and tear of getting played out, rave culture is poised to return to the forefront of dance music and underground club scenes. Maybe this time around we capture a different magic. But the next generation should know what went down the first time around. And those who took part back in the day should remember what happened.

                                                                       Humberto as a young raver.


Most of you reading this column from different parts of the country have your own regional rave stories. My friends in New York and in my new home of California think they had the biggest, most relevant scenes in the states, while people from Detroit and Chicago fight over being originators of techno and house music, which happened before my time. My own personal story coincides with the rise and fall of the edgiest, most intense American rave scene - The Florida rave scene, from Miami to Orlando, in my case, mostly Miami.

The Florida rave scene was chronicled by Rolling Stone contributing editor Simon Reynolds in his seminal, rave anthology Generation Ecstasy as “infamous for taking excessive hedonism to the point of near-death experiences and sometimes taking it all the way.” I can attest to the truth in that observation, as you’ll read below. Our scene was dark and mean and so was the way we partied. For the record, I’m not advocating what I did or what I saw, but it’s worth noting it all went down that way. I don’t want to sugar coat it. Much of the language and vernacular will reflect that time and that place I came of age in, so if you don’t always understand what I’m saying (especially the Cuban-American Spanglish terms) just use context clues and make a good guess. You’ll figure it out.

Reader discretion is advised, what I’m about to describe was not always pretty, but sometimes it was beautiful...especially in the beginning.


The Edge

I started going to raves at a shockingly early age, around 14. That’s pretty freakin' young. If I see a 14-year-old kid out in club in the middle of the night I’d be like "where the hell are your parents?!” When you grow up in Miami you start partying early, and you figure out how to get around things like parents, curfews, and being underage. This is around 1995. Raves went on till way past dawn, which made it possible to actually wake up super early in the morning and go out to party. Over the course of the next few years, I’d venture to raves as often as I could.

My first years going to out raves, basically my freshman through senior year in high school, I didn’t exactly have the adult freedom to live it 24/7. In the beginning it was a mission just to go to a rave. If I wasn’t pretending to be sleeping over a friend’s crib, I’d tell my folks I was leaving real early in the mornings to “go surfing” even though I had no surfboard and never came back with a tan. If my friends were picking me up I had roll out of bed around 4AM and stand on the corner and wait for them. I had no cell phone and no beeper so when they said they were going to be there, they had to be there. They always were.

My folks would have never imagined I was venturing off to such strange places. It would have seemed so alien to them. The first time I went to a rave it sure as hell was alien to me. It was so alien, that raves would from that point on make me believe in actual aliens. There was even a time when I convinced a couple of my friends I was from another planet, but that’s another story. First I need to explain how it all began for me and for a lot of people I knew. It happened at the place that for all intents and purposes created the Florida rave scene - The Edge.


The Edge was located beside dark train tracks in an industrial section of downtown Ft. Lauderdale. At the time, it was a dark, decrepit stand-alone building with paint peeling off the walls. At night it looks more like a post-apocalyptic crack-house than a nightclub. I had seen Marilyn Manson perform a concert there, before they broke out. It was known as a goth/industrial/metal club most nights. But beginning in 1994 they dedicate Saturday nights to a “rave party” that starts at 2AM and on some weekends goes on till noon the next day. It is one of the first places you could go hear all kinds of electronic music, trance, techno, and towards the morning electro-funk, breaks, and Miami Bass. Because liquor isn’t served after 2AM the age requirement is 16 and over.

That first night, my first rave at The Edge, I’m a high school freshman and I’m staying over a friend’s. It’s the middle of the night and I’m stoned on his floor playing Street Fighter 2. He gets off the phone and tells me to put on my kicks ‘cause we are going to a “rave.” At the time, I’m an alter-na-teen. I had on faded corduroy jeans. I’m into music like Jane’s Addiction and gangsta rap about smoking chronic and drive-by’s. I know nothing of raves. And how the hell are we supposed to get in? We’re little kids! My friend figures since it’s 16 and over we shouldn’t have a problem faking. But just to be sure I get a sharpie and literally write a new birth date on my school ID to say I was 16. Then I paint every alternating finger nail black with the same Sharpie. I don’t why, I just did.

So we sneak out of my friend’s house while his parents sleep and jump into the ride of a high school senior we don’t know, all set up by a couple of our chick pals who convince the guy to pick our freshman asses up cause we’d spark him up to the funkete crips. It’s the middle of the night and I’m stuffed in the back of a small Honda hatchback, on my way 30 minutes north of my suburban Miami-Dade neighborhood to Ft. Lauderdale, a more whitebread version of the Cuban enclave I’m used to. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I know this could get me into so much trouble and that is enough to get me excited.


When we roll into the parking lot at The Edge, I’m in a world I had never seen before, with people and styles that were unlike anything I’ve seen in any music video, movie, or magazine. It’s a blend of clubkids, B-boys, goths, and ghetto ass heathens, most of whom have the baggiest jeans I’d ever seen. “What the fuck is up with these jeans bro?” I ask myself. People are slinging pills and hits, and hitting whippets out of big cartoonish balloons, like it ain’t no thing. This is much more intense than the high school keggars I’d been crashing. I probably shouldn’t even be here.

We line up outside The Edge in mad anticipation. Heavy techno thumps boom from inside, shaking the foundation and expanding the janky walls with every beat. When get to the door they ask me for my I.D. I must have looked about 12 years old that night, as I hand some zoned-out freakshow my carefully re-crafted high school ID. He takes my seven bucks and in I go.

When I get inside I’m confronted with an esoteric truth - there are realms we can visit that function within a slightly different dimension then the world we know. And this is one of them. The first thing that runs through my mind is “Holy shit!” The whole place is all-out sensory overload. Neon beams and strobe lights dart through an otherwise dark and cavernous venue, momentarily bouncing off of a sea of silhouettes dancing in the dark, some waving glow sticks in those proverbial figure-eights, but I still can’t tell if the place is half empty or packed with people.


The Edge is other-worldly, creepy, hazy from the fog machines, blinding from the strobe lights, the bass from the speakers pound on your chest, and every corner is dark and mysterious. A balcony wraps the interior of the bottom and second floors, looking down on a subspace that is more a big, dirty, dried up pit than a dancefloor. The siderooms are lit by blacklight. The couches along the walls are stuffed with people, sitting intertwined like pretzels, making out. One guy sits on a stool with his jeans around his ankles and a pink haired chick rides him. Despite the public display they don’t attract much attention.

The sounds of whistles resonate throughout the place, weaving in cadence with the song I will forever have engrained in my sub-conscious, Union Jack’s “Lollipop Man.” The part with the sound of the siren takes me away. The only rational thought going through my head is if my parents knew where I was right now I’d be grounded for a really, really long time. But for some reason I still don’t have a worry in the world. Meanwhile, my friend’s reaction is, “We’re doing this every week!”

Most of these kids wear those aforementioned big ass jeans (most notably JNCO’s) and whatever thrift shop shirt they can find. Some of the chicks have those baggy jeans riding low, with the straps of their g-strings high on their hips, visible above their waists, which looked trashy and hot as hell. Others are much more animated. One guy has on an Uncle Sam suit. Some girls wore their hair like Princess Lea. Other girls are dressed like Rainbow Bright. A couple of guys are in homemade alien costumes, walking through the club like they’re lost in outer space. Some wave hi to me as I pass them by. Some people are on the floor massaging each other, with their eyes rolling into the back of their head. Some of those people are sucking pacifiers. Others are blowing Vicks Vapor Rub into their eyes. What the fuck is a matter with these people?


I’m told everyone is “rolling” on ecstasy. I had no idea what ecstasy is. I wouldn’t take ecstasy for more than a year after I came to my first rave. Yes, I waited till I was all of 16. My first night, I was just gonna blaze. My friend and I have a pair of phat jays rolled up and that would be enough for us. Except that when we find a corner to light them up the bouncer comes by and takes our jibbers away. But he doesn’t throw us out. He just walks off and smokes them himself. Bastard!

So basically, my first night at a rave I was sober as hell. And yet, it was the trippiest thing I’d ever experienced. I felt like I was peaking balls. There’s no other place and no other time that gave me that feeling. You might say it had something to do with the fact I was a teen, but if you were in your 20’s or even 30’s and you were at The Edge back in the day you felt the same way. It was that kind of moment in time.

The Edge had a popular patio. And that’s where everyone would just hang out in the morning. It all started with this kid from Miami, Manny Risco, who was the baddest dancer during The Edge days. He’d battle everybody. His moves were a sick combination of popping & locking and just weird fluid-but-machine-like flashes across the dancefloor. I remember the guy once jumping off the second floor onto the middle of a circle. What an entrance. One night he just took the party outside and started dancing to nothing, to silence. People would follow him outside. That’s when the club decided to put ambient tunes outside. When you were out in the patio, the temperate night air felt good on your stimulated skin. And you could hear yourself talk, even though it was mostly nonsense. 


The patio at The Edge made an impression on me because it would be the first place I’d be confronted with sunshine. When you were inside the venue in the morning, some sunlight would peer through cracks or when the exit door opened. But outside you were bombarded by the searing sun, the bright and humid Florida mornings. I point this out because you had to see what a rave looked like in the brightness of South Florida sun after an all-nighter. When daylight hit a raver and illuminated their strung out expressions - their rolling eyes, their quivering lips, their lockjaws, the paleness and the breakouts, the dehydrated cheeks, the ravages of the night explicitly sprawled across their face - you knew that you and everyone else around you was zooted to high heaven.

Raves were the one place where you could walk around sweaty, disgusting, and in tatters and still look appropriate. After spending all night raving, most people’s enormous jeans would be muddy on the bottoms, especially if the rave had an outside area, like The Edge. Most people would end up looking like they literally crawled out of the gutter, including me. I always still managed to find my way into the arms of some chick who was grinding her teeth down to nothing.

As for the drugs I was on during those days (yeah I’m gonna talk about that almost incessantly throughout this series because it’s a major part of the story), for the most part I would drop acid at The Edge. I thought I wasn’t ready for E, like I said, it was a year before I’d try it. I also figured acid was like really strong pot, which I’d learn wasn’t the case. But I guess it was more a money issue. Stamps were like five bucks a piece, and ecstasy was like 25 bucks a bean back then. I could trip all night on pyramids, or sunshines or whatever was going around. The rest of my friends would mostly drop hits in the beginning too and I quickly found out that while I wasn’t the toughest kid on the block among them, I handled drugs pretty well. So under the influence of chemicals, I could make guys who were bigger and badder than I was lose their shit.


I would get one friend to go ask if another friend was okay because I’d say I saw him sitting in the corner crying. Low and behold, that friend would go over and ask the other guy, “Why are you crying?” To which the first would respond, “What the fuck are you talking about?” But since we would all be tripping out, someone who wasn’t crying all night might look like they were to anyone whom I embed the idea in. The guy who was never crying in the first place might even be convinced he’s been crying in the corner all along.

The conversations would always turn into a jumbled illogical mess. This would go on for some time. It would cause such major confusion I would actually cause friends of mine to wig out. Sometimes it would develop into a traumatic situation. People would question their sanity. All the while I’d stand to the side and laugh so hard my gut would bust.  

Yes, I was an asshole on drugs but highly entertaining. You either had a blast tripping with me or I made you never want to drop anything again in your life. I would never have made the connection from those experiences to the fact I now do stand-up comedy, but looking back I guess the ability to not only recognize but semi-conduct the absurdity of a moment came from those days, because nothing was more absurd then The Edge on a Saturday night with my friends.   


At The Edge, the music was a keynote. It was where I was first exposed to underground electronic music. Notable DJ’s who spun regularly at The Edge in the early days, were Orlando’s Icey and Rabbit in the Moon’s Monk, plus residents like Bruce Wilcox and Mike Sharpe who developed the Florida or Funky Breaks sound, building on electro-funk and breakbeats and fusing them with the trancy sounds playing at raves in other parts of the world. I found a great link on SoundCloud that has a collection of tracks made famous at The Edge, most of which is made up of amazing breakbeats. For those of you who want to reminisce on old mixes check out Mami’s own Sandman-E’s amazing Edge mixes.

That style of music brought a heavy dose of Miami kids into the fold. More than the white ravers and goth kids, the Miami set made dancing central as they followed guys like the aforementioned Manny Risco, combining the popping and locking of old school hip-hop dancing with weird rave motions. These hybrid raver-B-boys introduced circles and battling to the scene. Dancing made meeting chicks easy, cause you don’t talk much at raves. You could literally pick up a girl by dancing with, not even with her, but like battling her I guess. This would come into play later on when I was popping mad E, dancing and trying to scam every girl I met. But that would come after the Edge era, when I was just a little jit all I could do for the most part was watch. 

Now I’m not a dancing kind of guy who loves to shake his patootie every time I go out. First of all, when I first started going to raves I had been mostly into hard alternative rock and heavy metal, so dancing for me was a mosh pit. But I did respect breakdancing bigtime. I was hooked on movies like Wild Style. At the time there were really only so many underground techno and trance records to play. Florida DJs would transition from trance to trip-hop, breaks, tracks that were heavily influenced by old school breaks, freestyle, and Miami bass. I don’t care what people say about house music, the breaks was the best music to dance to. The dancing at South Florida raves, beginning at The Edge, was mad trippy and ghetto and street and futuristic at the same time. It had attitude.


At its height, The Edge attracted major names from around the world like The Chemical Brothers, Sven Vath, Uberzone, Plastikman, Prodigy and breaks DJs from all over the country like Simply Jeff, while developing Florida’s homegrown talent like Rabbit In The Moon, Dynamix II, and all the Florida DJ’s, headlined by DJ Icy, and backed by guys like R-Fresh, George Acosta, Mike Sharpe and Stryke. And it spawned the rave scene in the FLA, no doubt about it. But The Edge ran its course relatively quickly, and in 1997 it was bought and transformed into a club called The Chili Pepper. In 1998 they canceled the Saturday rave night before re-instating it occasionally for a few-week runs here and there, but only letting it go till 5AM By the late '90s most rave parties were one-offs anyway, traveling events that took place here and there. Today it’s poshier rock club called Revolution Live.  Recently they had a reunion party at the venue. And there’s a cool Facebook page commemorating The Edge.

The Edge was also my introduction to mystical moments that defy explanation (at least when you’re mind is on fire). Weird stuff would always happen at The Edge, little things mostly, but major mindfucks none-the-less. Like one morning, my pal The Keeb and I were parched. And being punk-ass little jits, we couldn’t muster even one dollar between us to buy water. All we had was 75 cents between us, and water was a dollar (yeah, a dollar, this was old school). When The Keeb told me he needed a quarter, I just looked off into the impossibly dark and dirty dancefloor and immediately see a gleaming sparkle. I pointed, “Over there.” I didn’t really think it was a quarter. Sure enough, The Keeb went over, and in the middle of a mud puddle is a quarter. We were ecstatic. I know it’s a stupid little thing but we saw it as divine intervention. God wanted me and the Keeb to drink water! Moments like that used to happen all the time, so it seemed.

The Edge would change the lives of many kids in South Florida in the mid-'90s, including mine, and not necessarily for the better. In the beginning, it was a beautiful thing, our minds were opened to something boundless and seemingly spiritual, but towards the end of the roller coaster ride, a good part of an entire generation had found themselves in a very jaded, confusing period of their life. To say that the rave scene induced a collective hangover is an understatement. For some people things got ugly. Some didn’t even make it out alive.


I’ll never forget what it was like, being young, and putting so much energy into just having an experience like going to The Edge. If only my memories were clearer, but maybe it’s appropriate that it all seem like a dream to me.

As important as The Edge was in igniting the fire, it didn’t represent the end of the Florida rave scene, only the beginning. As crazy as The Edge seemed, it was not the heaviest interpretation of the Florida rave scene, and it didn’t cause the most damage. That would come in the form of a two-year spectacle that started as a weekly party on South Beach and rampaged throughout the entire state as the most notorious party Florida has ever seen. The weekly party I’m talking about was called Fever. It would take the Florida rave scene by storm, before crashing and burning and taking almost everyone down with it. When it took off, all innocence was lost, and things would never be the same again.

Next Chapter: Fever.

WMC and UMF Split Seems Perminent

posted on 03.29.2011

Winter Music Conference’s split from the Ultra Music Festival didn’t pan out as planned. For most locals and people attending, WMC was flaccid compared to years past. As celebrity/nightlife pseudo-extraordinaire and perennial candidate for WMC’s ultimate party guy, Kris Conesa, puts it, “WMC just felt like a busy weekend, not the big deal out it’s supposed to be.”

Ultra Music Festival, which went down this weekend with all the usual big name DJs, such as Tiesto and Deadmau5, as well as '80s icons Duran Duran and Erasure, on the other hand, did pretty freakin’ well. They attracted an estimated 100,000 fans to the two-day event, and unlike other years it actually went pretty smoothly. Ultra also inspired its own set of satellite events also wrapped around “Ultra Music Weekend,” like the Funkshion event Swedish House Mafia’s Masquerade Motel, which sold out thousands of tickets for its nine-hour party featuring Pete Tong, Dirty South, and the host DJ trio in a tent on the sands of Miami Beach and then was overrun by 2000 fans stranded outside. The near riot forced police to nearly close down the event before letting it go on as safety concerns arose thanks to a seething crowd.

So, yes, the WMC/Ultra splitsy is for real, and likely permanent. But most nightlife industry peeps in Miami are seeing the bright side - an entire techno-driven month of packed parties and hotels rather than one insane kabooble bottlenecked into a few days. Also this year’s WMC was not a complete disaster. As per usual anyone who got into those insatiable parties at the Shelborne Hotel or Surfcomber most likely got laid with a weekend porn star or some tanned up meatball from the Tri-State area.

How to Approach a Celeb in the Club

posted on 03.10.2011

I have a habit of approaching celebrities as if we know each other. I usually wave at them as I’m coming and yell ”Hey!” or walk right up to them and say “How ya been?” Then I proceed to have a drink with them or sit myself down at their table, maybe even tag along to the next club. I can pull this off because celebrities who party usually meet lots of people, and they often meet them while drunk. So their memory in regards to casual connections is typically fuzzy enough for the right person with the right confidence to convince them they’re old chums, like me.

Now this doesn’t work with stand-offish actresses or pissy little rock starts (although I once crashed the VIP table of those tweety lil rockers Red Jumpsuit Apparatus at Le Deux in Hollywood and handed out their vodka to a group of chicks I had just met, all the while telling the band I was the singer’s friend, since he was passed out on the couch after his successive shots of Jager). Most of the time it only works with two groups -- old, senile celebs, and any famous person related to the hip-hop industry (that includes, rappers, producers, and certain athletes). I do also have a way with Latino celebrities. I once attached myself to Julio Igliesas’s entourage at the old Prive in South Beach, and kept bringing over random girls to him. Over and over, I’d tell girls “Julio wants to dance with you.” They’d get really excited and then I’d bring them over to Julio, introduce them and I’d take off to the other side of the club. I spent the rest of the night outrunning these chicks, along with Julio. It was totally immature, but so much fun!

Once, about a year before he died, I got to spend four days in a row hanging with Dennis Hopper. I was covering the CineVegas Film Festival, which he chaired. CineVegas is a notoriously party-centric indie film festival programmed by the Sundance Film Festival’s Trevor Groth, held at The Palms in, of course, Las Vegas. The first night, I saw him at the opening night party outside of Simon’s. I waved to him through the crowd. He waved back with a look of slight confusion. You could tell he wasn’t sure if he was supposed to know me, but he accepted my familiarity and entertained a conversation.

The following afternoon he happened to rent a cabana by the Palms pool. I walked by, started another conversation.  I remember thinking how young his wife and at the time two year-old daughter seemed, and the fact that old guy, who never put on anything but a beige linen suit, had enough juice in his unit to spawn a beautiful little girl at his age. Anyway, he chomped down a real Cuban cigar. Me being Cuban, we talked about Castro. He invited me for drinks that night inside Ghost Bar with him and his old artists friends (they’re all old, but they can drink!).The next day I attended a screening of the documentary, The Cool School, with him. The doc, about the birth of LA’s love of modern art, which featured these old drinking buddies, led to his usual after-screening whisky straight and more conversation about anything that sounded interesting. All this, because I waved to him a few days earlier and pretended I knew him. He never even asked me what I did.

As fulfilling as it was to be pretend-buddies with Dennis Hopper, it is truly amusing to get down with hip-hop artists and producers. And that’s exactly what I was doing during this past NBA All-Star weekend at Avalon in Los Angeles. Let’s start out at The Official All-Star Weekend 2011 Tip Off Party hosted by Diddy and his Ciroc vodka gals. The Diddster is usually barricaded by body guards, but since his albums have been tanking getting close to him is much easier. I guess he needs all the support he can get.

Now The Diddy is not prone to talking too much, but he does love to dance. And during the party, when they turned up house music and things got very Jersey Shorish, Diddy got up on his couch and started fist pumping to the beats. He’s a househead. That was my cue to walk up to him (fist pumping as I approach as to relate to him) and gave him a few repeated high fives. “Yo, it’s me!” He gives me a head nod, and into his VIP section I go. Later on, I walked up to him and just gave him a bro hug. “How ya been?” I ask him. “I’m hot baby. How you feeling?” he says. I don’t think I fooled him into thinking we were buds, but his entourage thought me and Diddy were down. So for the rest of the night I was dancing with a fine young groupie who may or may not have been on the first season of Tila Tequila’s reailty show.  “How you know Sean?” she asks me after dancing.  I love how she made a point of calling him Sean, as if that means anything. “We go way back. I show him around in Miami.” She says, “Oh really?” We got back to dancing.

Over at an NBA All Star bash at Brent Bolthouse’s soon-to-be-renovated WeHo jaunt, Industry, the partiers were taking full advantage of truly classy golden stripper poles situated around the club. Who did I see over in by the bar but Dennis Rodman. Now I had interviewed Dennis before several times, but not often enough for him to remember. I walked up to him anyway, and the great thing about Dennis, is that even before BS came out of my mouth, the simple hand raise and familiar expression on my face was enough for him to be like “Wassup?!”

I got a big bro hug like we were best buds. Dennis Rodman is a big guy, a big loveable guy…scary though. Unlike with previous celebrities, I was truthful with Dennis. “Yo, I interviewed you back in Miami, that time, we hung out…yada yada yada,” He bops his head up, and dramatically wails his hands in the air like he just found out we’re brothers. “Oh maaaan!” he says. Then he gives me another hug. At this point he asks me to buy him a drink. Straight up. He’s like, “Hell yeah, vodka cranberry.” After I hand him his cocktail I tell him he looks like a vampire drinking something so red. “Well If I’m a vampire I’ll bet I’ll bite you.” Not sure if this was a come on, but with a date in tow I figured I’d up the ante, “how about I bite you.” Dennis responds, “if you do you might catch something…oh go ahead.” I jumped up on my tippy toes and bit him on the neck like a pretend vampire. Dennis Rodman tastes just like chicken.


I can see you… but not like, in a stalker way or anything like that.
- HG
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