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.

Return of The Chin

posted on 10.31.2012
As Jersey Shore caps its final season, what better time to hark back at the era of the fist-pumping, house music loving Guido culture through the eyes of the over-the-top Guido phenomenon Vinny the Chin?

Vinny The Chin, a fixture in the New York club scene, Strong Island legend, and a viral video star. Some of you may remember my expose on Vinny in my first ever post on Clubplanet. Following the boombastic response from that story, Vinny The Chin rose to iconic heights (relatively speaking), from television spots to endorsements raining all over his greasy ass. During the course of my interview with Vinny, which diverted to ass-waxing for some reason, I learned of his new viral documentary. And by viral I mean various forms of VD, he says so himself.

Aptly titled Vinny The Chin: The Long Island Legend, it chronicles Vinny’s last summer making his mark on The Hamptons, the trials and tribulations of partying, and the effects tanning and roiding has had on him and his anatomy, plus some of the more ridiculous situations he has found himself in over the last year as he’s tried to capitalize on his newfound infamy. It’s quite an emotional roller coaster. Seriously, The Situation has nothing on this guy. A trailer can be seen here. The buzz around Vinny has led to sponsorships by everything from Ed Hardy Vodka to Juiced Watches, just for just being the biggest, baddest, most hardcore Guido in the scene.

It’s honestly amazing Vinny is still alive considering how hard he’s hit the party scene since his big break out. As Vinny puts it, “I didn’t pussy out and end up in rehab. I don’t have a drug problem. I handle them fine.” He then asked me if I have a problem with that, and if I did we could settle it in an MMA ring at some point because in between the partying Vinny likes to “Fuck shit up under the unified rules of professional mixed martial arts.” That commitment to the Guido’s favorite sport has actually garnered him a MMA reporting gig with CageJunkies.

So as you can tell, although there are times where this guy doesn’t seem like the brightest Guido on the dancefloor, he’s making the most out of his reputation on the media tip. You can even catch him hosting his show on Groove Fox Radio where he’s been blasting his Vinny The Chin soundtrack, with a tracklist of memorable odes to the GTL lifestyle such as “Pop Your Pecs” and “I’m Number Fucking One”.

Veteran house music producers including Chuck Demonte, El El Sharptone, Mike Hush and Jean Elan worked on these tracks. And yes they are worth playing in the club, in the car, and in a packed subway car. Check out it out here. But there’s way too much about his experiences and outlook on life to pen here. For the full unedited, uncensored audio recording of my conversation with Vinny The Chin, click on this.

S & M Theme Hollywood Nightclub Brings out the Voyeurs

posted on 06.22.2012
I have a very open-minded girlfriend. Tangent note, I’ve always heard it’s a standard for public personalities or wannabes like me to keep any of their personal romantic relationships a secret. Most pretend to be single, because common perception is that it will make you more attractive to opposite (and some same) sex fans.

Well, screw that. I have a girlfriend. I’m off the market (to the dismay of two, maybe even three of you readers). And like I said, she’s open minded, except about me posting her pics online, that won’t fly. So you will have to use your imagination about what she looks like. But back to her open-mindedness, when on my birthday she took me to a nightclub that features female dancers in various S & M influenced garb doing the go-go thing on the bars and speakers. It’s sultry but classy. It’s not a strip club by any means, although some media lists it as such.

The club is Voyeur in West Hollywood. It made national headlines when a group of Republican politicians, including several party heads, racked up a $2,000 creeping over the topless dancers who perform scenes of the fetish persuasion on the club’s center stage. Needless to say I was psyched to be going.

When I arrive I must admit it was much tamer than I expected. Maybe it’s because I’ve attended actual fetish parties (yes where people are actually being whipped and chained among other things), or because I figured 50 Shades of Grey would just up the ante on the acceptance of kink. But Voyeur is not that different from other clubs that features hired dancers in theme. Just that these women were topless.

I did notice one thing. 
Now, I’m not trying to pull this column down to the lowest common denominator, but it was just so obvious to see, that all of the dancers had A-cups. So at the risk of coming off as an immature frat boy who focuses on things like the size of breasts being bared for mixed company at a nightclub by my house, bear with me. 

I have a theory. 

I think that for a nightclub to be appealing to both men and more importantly the women that bring them in, female dancers performing topless need not be, let’s just say well endowed (likewise I heard all the guys in that new male stripper movie Magic Mike have tamed packages, just in case a few poor boyfriends get dragged to see it). 

It makes sense right? For some women, dancers with buxom breasts dancing atop of the bar they order their flavored martini from can be a little intimidating, and for the male patrons, they can be very distracting. 

So I just had to wonder what the hiring process was like. Did breast size come up during the interviews? I asked Voyeur [promoter Damien Torres, whether there was a bias against voluptuous women here.

“No, I just think we’re trying to blend in that sex show aspect of the club into the party aspect. And it can’t be too in your face,” Torres explained to me by the bar during his Friday night event. He also added, “I have nothing to do with the hiring here…”

For a woman’s prospective, I go to my girlfriend, who I will go ahead and divulge is more than a handful (and all natural). She says, “Big boobs are also very motherly if their natural, and you don’t want to be reminded of motherhood at the club. Big fake boobs out in the air are just crass. So small ones keep things from getting inappropriate,” she offers. 

The only really inappropriate thing going down at Voyeur is that they have a dancer stationed atop the bar. And she comes close to knocking over drinks from time to time. Now that is distracting, because I spent half the night cheering for a spill. 

Am I drawing a grander, broader socio-political conclusion from all this? No I’ll let you do that. I just had to point this out. And maybe, by my next column, I’ll have grown up.

Beads, Madonna, and Superstar DJs: EDM reborn

posted on 04.13.2012

After covering my tenth Winter Music Conference and Ultra Music Festival last month, I came to the conclusion that everything I grew up on is the hands of an entirely new generation. The kids at raves these days were babies when I was a kid at a rave. I feel kind of old for the first time in my life, but the connection to rave culture feels reborn. I like that the word “rave” is reborn too. Not that the stigma has left it, in many ways it’s only been re-enforced. But long gone are the days of yester-decade when the mere association with the word “rave” would undermine an event with a passé, delinquent, childish vibe. On the other hand, during the last decade many dance music affairs seemed pretty long in tooth when it came to patrons. The Winter Music Conference five years ago was very adult. Decadent, don’t get me wrong, but aged.

Now that the kids are back, listening to electronic music, wearing colorful beads, and popping those you-know-whats, the fun, fantastical world of rave culture is back, not that it ever really left. It just splintered off into pieces for a while. And now it’s less about the genres and sub-genres but more about the vibe, the trippy-dippy one-love stuff, and the esoteric aspect of it all. Terrence McKenna would be proud.

Steve Aoki put it perfectly to me backstage at Ultra. “Electronic music, EDM, house whatever you want to call it, it’s not mainstream, still after all these years. But what has happened is that the underground is bigger than ever. It’s almost the size of commercial mainstream culture, but it’s still underneath it all. Maybe it always will be, and that’s the beauty of it.”

In fact, when the mainstream tries to pander to the vast, global community that rave and electronic dance music has fostered, it turns into to a big fail, like Madonna’s contrived moment with the crowd at Ultra. She asked “Has anyone seen Molly?” Of course, everyone cheered. But many of us felt like grandma just made a pass at one of our friends. Since the underground has grown to its present proportions, it’s also become more inclusive. I couldn’t help notice the wide range of ages (18-late 30’s) and styles (from hardcore freak to surfer preppy types) at the Richie Hawtin M-Nus Showcase at Space closing out the Conference. And they all stayed to watch minimal techno savant even though he didn’t take to the deck until a very old school hour of 5 AM. That was the point I realized I’m getting too old for the morning rise set. Plastikman is worth it though. All in all, I welcome the new gen with open arms. They should take the culture and run with it. They’re more media and technologically savvy, and what is rave and EDM culture if not that? They are also friendlier and more positive than I my friends and I were. Then again, we were selling fake hits in the parking lot and jumping the fence to get in. But that’s more an old school Miami thing I can’t shake. I’ll tell you more about that sometime soon. Peace…(and Love, and Unity, and Respect).

WMC and Me…

posted on 03.15.2012
WMC and Me…
I always go bonkers for Winter Music
Conference. It’s a week that has been circled on my calendar since I began attending it more than ten years ago, as a local nightlife aficionado. You should see my collection of WMC badges. Put together they form a collage that serves as a yearly progression of me getting, older, wiser, and less likely to wake up in a strange hotel room, wondering where the last few days of my life has gone.

While dance music and nightlife have changed just as exponentially as I have over that time, the basic fundamentals of the now week-and-a-half parade of dance music depravity have not. It still involves dance music junkies partying their patooties off to the sounds of the biggest DJs in the world, in the hottest party city in the Western Hemisphere. 

This year it promises to be even bigger. Up until a couple of years ago WMC was linked to Ultra Music Festival. But a contemptuous relationship led to a split last year, leading to some convolution. Ultra and WMC were held on two different weeks, taking away from both events. This year, while not back in bed together, they have deiced to once again hold Ultra and WMC on overlapping weekends. WMC will actually jumpstart things this Friday March 16th, and keep it going through the following weekend when Ultra takes the focus off South Beach and brings the unwashed masses to downtown Miami for their three-day, star-studded affair. Ultra is also sponsoring the Miami Music Week. Basically, a parallel universe of parties not affiliated with WMC, but let’s be honest, pretty much one and the same. 

So what will you catch me at this year? Like always, I hit party to party till I land in a spot where the centerline of energy wraps around my chi in electronic bliss. For the first time in years, I’m actually looking forward to slammed, elbow-to-elbow soirees, rather than the toned-down private affairs I’ve been receding to in my old age. I’m even going to attend Ultra for the first time in three years. 

I’ll just make sure to take an extra pair of socks and hand sanitizer. I may even take a bottle of Fabreze and spray down the kids who plan on riding the three-day festival out without showering. I’ll probably cause some kid to bad trip by confusing him or her about things like bathroom locations and the Gestapo tactics to extra-terrestrial invaders, but I promise to get that on my phone, because there’s nothing more amusing than me fucking with the fragile mind of someone on some shit.  

As for music, I’m curious about where this dubstep thing is going. As a kid who grew up on electro-breaks, I’m fond of edgy, hip-hoppy elements in dance music. So I’ll make sure to catch Bass Nectar and Skrillex, plus new wave virtuosities like M83, and at some point original trancester Sven Vath (my first ever interview). I’m also psyched to hear what Miami Local talent Nova and his new collaboration with Los Angeles native Luis Rosario. Their act, Ds and Cs, should be one of WMC’s gems. The techno crowd will definitely want to join me at the Sunset Session Locals Only party to see why people are buzzing about the music put forth on their sick new minimal Black Nation Records release, Placing Ourselves Elsewhere. 

Most of all, I will be in search of Richie. Like every WMC, I will have only one concrete itinerary- catching Richie Hawtin. Why am I captivated by his sound and vision? Check out my previously published interview to find out.
This year, I plan to see Richie throw down the sickness at the M-NUS showcase at Club Space on March 23. If you can get in, prepare to be educated by the master, Richie Hawtin. And while the Hawtin’s profile is blowing up across the world and finally here in the States, I would like to remind people, as I often do, that I was intruding other dimensions on the Futuristic Underground Subsonic Experiments he laid down on Sheet One, as the one and only Plastikman. Are friends Electric? For those who know…

The Nation's DJ Mecca - Miami

posted on 01.16.2012

“It’s very simple," says Miami's homegrown world-renown DJ Irie. "Miami is the nightlife capital of the world. Hands down. The big DJs understand that to really be recognized, they have to have a presence in Miami.

Like many of today’s top imports who grace our city’s turntables, Miami’s most notable DJ, Irie (a.k.a. Ian Grocher), is increasingly rotating his rhythms among a new generation of Miami mega-clubs. As always, the cavalcade is centered on South Beach, its heavyweight hotspots, and various pop-ups too numerous to list here.

"Miami is always on the tip of people’s tongue," says Irie. "The city itself is a brand. The mixture of cultures lends itself to a mix of musical influences. That’s important to a DJ. It’s liberating.”

But the borders of clubland are far reaching these days. Now, platinum names like Paul van Dyk, Armin van Buuren, David Guetta, and members of the chart-topping Swedish House Mafia (Axwell, Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso), are venturing throughout the city’s clubscape to stake a claim in Miami’s evolving DJ legacy.

But what club are they drawn to most? Head a few minutes up Collins Avenue from South Beach to the Fontainebleau Hotel. There you'll find their giant, state-of-the-art venue - the world renowned, and according to many, best club on the planet, LIV nightclub. Their DJ booth constantly hosts the biggest names on the planet.

Erick Morillo, the premiere artist on his own Subliminal Records, has successfully turned his brand out on a global scale by spinning and hosting his infamous Subliminal Sessions - first at Ibiza, then New York City followed Las Vegas, and most recently in Miami at LIV. So where does Morillo feel his best sessions go down between those markets?

“Miami is defining a lot of my work right now," Morillo explains. "The city is an inspiration to anyone into electronic music. The lights, the sounds of the city, the people that never sleep. But more than anything, the clubs."

The clubs in Miami are what nightlife industry entrepreneurs from all over the country come to study before opening a venue that aims to be the s*&#. And though nightlife in Miami has had its ups and downs over the last decade, the association to big name DJ talent has never waned. As large rooms and big parties come back with the economy, it’s paying off. Miami, even more than ever, is the ultimate music destination, not only for the clubgoer, but for the talent in the booth as well.

“To be a major nightlife destination these days you need to bring in big name DJ’s," says LIV's co-head and Miami Marketing Group's David Grutman. "People want the full nightlife experience and that’s a big part of it. One of the things clubs in Miami do that make the experience for patrons impeccable, and the DJs seem out of this world, is equip our venues with high quality, state-of-the-art sound systems, and layouts that compliment the dance floor. You get consistent quality in those areas in Miami you don’t see elsewhere. So, Miami has one of the most quality nightlife experiences in the world, and that enables to commit to big name DJ talent.”

One of those quality DJs club owners like Grutman are committed to is Rony Seikaly. Yes, the ex-NBA center was the Miami Heat's first-ever draft pick. His post-NBA career involved owning and operating nightclubs, most notably Mynt. Having a knack for music, it wasn’t long before he re-assumed the nickname he earned as a post-up wiz during his playing days - The Spin Doctor.

Seikaly picked up DJing and turned the hobbie into a profession. Now he spreads his “Rony Style” all over Europe as a touring DJ, releasing original tracks including the club hit “Come With Me,” on Subliminal Records.  He credits his involvement in Miami nightlife with giving him an edge as a DJ, and an understanding of what started the infatuation between superstar DJs and Miami.

“Back in the '90s Miami was the new capital of nightlife," says Seikaly. "Everything was huge. At the start of the 2000’s people were getting away from bigger clubs - going to lounges, smaller bars, and outside hotel patios. Now people are coming back to big clubs, like back in the '90s. Big parties need big DJs. Aside from the décor and the atmosphere, and the beautiful people,  LIV is getting the big DJs.”

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