Miami Always On My Mind: MMW 2017 Quick Recap

Miami makes all my stress go away. When I'm stressed or anxious, a trip to Miami is the ultimate cure. I land in the humidity and breath a sigh of relief. It's a jewel of a city to me. 

We stayed at the Marseilles Hotel right on South Beach and walking distance from almost everything we needed.

We stayed at the Marseilles Hotel right on South Beach and walking distance from almost everything we needed.

The best part of Miami is that I have a reason to travel there at least once a year for Miami Music Week aka Christmas for dance music lovers. Sun, heat, beach and good music - there is nothing better. Miami Music Week 2017 was consumed mostly by Above & Beyond or Anjuna parties (I have a friend who is their #1 fan so it's inevitable to hit up at least 2 Anjuna parties). 

Night #1 was Above & Beyond with Eric Prydz at the outdoor RC Cola Plant in Wynwood. My friend was determined to push the button and so she arrived early to get that front and center spot. It paid off because she got on stage and triumphantly pushed. that. button. 

Day #2 was brunch, pool lounging and then Mark Knight's Toolroom party at the Raleigh Hotel. All the other parties we were planning to attend were Anjuna and so this was a nice change of house music. That night we checked out the The Broken Shaker at the Freehand Miami Hotel, which has a beautiful outdoor space and amazing cocktails. 

Day #3 was brunch and beach time (obvs) followed by an evening at Gramps for the Anjunadeep party, my favorite party of MMW. The highlights for me were Luttrell, Yoto and Kidnap Kid. Unfortunately Moon Boots didn't make it on. We finished off the nigh at THE BEST taco spot on South Beach called Taquiza. Seriously amazing tacos and definitely get the totopos (puffy tortilla chips) with guacamole. Heaven heaven. 

And day #4, we brunched and did some pool-side lounging before ending our MMW at the Anjunabeats party at the Raleigh Hotel. It got off to a bumpy start with a super long wait to get into the party and the fear that we might not make it in at all. But all worked out in the end and we danced the day away to wonderful trance music. Highlights were Andrew Bayer playing with Ilan Bluestone as well as Cosmic Gate. Since we got in too late, I unfortunately missed seeing Sunny Lax. 

Andrew Bayer and Ilan Bluestone at the Anjunabeats party at the Raleigh Hotel. 

Andrew Bayer and Ilan Bluestone at the Anjunabeats party at the Raleigh Hotel. 


Before heading to the airport and leaving the most wonderful, music-filled Miami - we made one last stop in Little Havana at Versailles for some delish Cuban food. I love this city. 

ALSO shoutout to The Social Club restaurant at the Surfcomber Hotel for the most delicious chicken and waffles I have ever had. Seriously the best ever. 

Till next time MIA. 

Felt extremely satisfied after killing those chicken and waffles. 

Felt extremely satisfied after killing those chicken and waffles. 

Appropriate brunch attire. 

Appropriate brunch attire. 

The BPM Festival 2016 Highlights

As I write this recap, there's a giant snow storm engulfing everything in site on the East Coast. It's quite the opposite scene of a week ago, when I was in Playa del Carmen, Mexico for the BPM Festival. 

I don't know if I was more excited to be in Mexico and a warm place or the festival itself. I had never been to Mexico and was dying to see Playa del Carmen. So when a friend of mine said she was going, I was like...yep getting my ticket now! 

We went for the closing BPM weekend to catch the last three days of parties and then stayed an extra day to relax.

Some things I liked most about BPM:

1) It was in beautiful Playa del Carmen, Mexico (duh). I also got to put another stamp in my passport which I was pretty excited about. 

2) The wristbands. Rather than buying separate tickets for various parties, you pay a flat fee for the weekend or days that you're attending and then get a wristband to wear for the duration of the festival. That wristband granted you access to every and any party as well as easy reentry. It had a scanner on it so you go to the door, get scanned and then boom you're in. Easy system.

3) Relaxed vibes. The atmosphere of BPM was pretty low-key compared to other big festivals. The music is not EDM noisy bells and whistles, so don't attend thinking you're going to hear big room electronic music. The festival showcases mostly techno DJs that have a minimal, percussion-based style. Think less melodic, more beat driven. This more toned-down mentality translated to laid-back day parties near the beach  and night parties with moody, deep beats. Personally, techno music isn't my favorite genre of dance music (it's not melodic enough for me) but I appreciate BPM's deep tech glory and I always love exploring new artists. 

4) Free wi-fi. This feature was especially nice since I was in a foreign country and didn't pay for an international phone plan. 

During our first night, we started at a club venue called the Blue Parrot to see Luciano. We got to Blue Parrot WAY too early and so we had a drink there and then went to another club called La Santanera for the Octopus Recordings party. Oliver Huntemann's slightly dark, downbeat set was definitely a highlight, giving us a taste of Germany's techno sound.

En route back to Blue Parrot for Luciano, I noticed that my wallet was no longer in my purse. Sooo that was basically the end of night #1 for me. 

In La Santanera after my wallet disappeared! Still had a good time though. 

Leave your sins at the door of La Santanera. 

Day #2, we hit up the RUMORS day party at an outdoor venue on the beach. We caught the tail-end of Behrouz's set and then witnessed Bob Moses' breathtaking showcase. The Canadian DJ-duo paired live vocals with balmy music and it was honestly the best performance at BPM in my opinion. There was something about Bob Moses' airy vocals and dreamy beats in the whimsical, warm setting....ahh heaven. Amazing amazing. I was so thankful to see them live finally. 

Bob Moses at the RUMORS BPM day party.

That night we were at The Jungle. Known as the "festival within a festival", the YA'AH MUUL party was amped with multiple stages, tire swings, various outdoor seating lounges and a massive headphone structure. See photos below. 

For the last day of BPM (Day #3), we checked out the Yoshitoshi day party at Wah Wah Beach Bar. We caught the last few minutes of EDX's set and my ears warmed up to his melodic house sound that I love - a nice alternative from the previous bass driven, tech DJ sets. Sharam was the main act, unleashing his deep house sound mixed with a bit of techno. 

EDX at the Yoshitoshi party during the BPM Festival. 

We were behind the decks for Sharam's BPM Festival set. 

Sharam at the Yoshitoshi party during the BPM Festival.

For BPM's closing night party we got in the MOOD for non-other than the Queen of Techno, Nicole Moudaber. We were exhausted from the Yoshitoshi party but it was the last night of BPM and I'd never seen Nicole play, so we dragged our butts over to Blue Parrot. At 3am, Nicole finally made her appearance in her edgy, deep techno glory laying out the darkest, moodiest of beats. I only lasted till 4:30am but she played non-stop till 6:30am delivering her much anticipated techy set to the BPM crowds.  

If you were at BPM, I hope you enjoyed the festival and Mexico as much as I did! Below I've posted some more photos of our trip. We stayed an extra day in Mexico and made a side trip to Tulum to see some Mayan ruins and swim in a cenote, a natural swimming hole that had the clearest and most blue water. 

The view from our hotel rooftop in Playa del Carmen. We stayed at the beautiful Hotel Cacao. 

Another hotel rooftop view.

Mayan ruins in Tulum. 

Scenic Tulum. 

More Mayan ruins. 

Article by Layal Brown

Photos by Layal Brown with contributions from Kim Mancini


Hello Las Vegas!

This is a way overdue post but I've finally been able to take the time and write it out. The month of March is always crazy with a client event at the end of the month and another one in April. So as a pre-stress release I traveled with two of my closest girlfriends and my sister to Las Vegas!

We stayed at the opulently decorated Wynn/Encore, by far the most luxurious hotel I’ve ever been a guest at. The butterfly motif weaved throughout the hotel was just beautiful with butterfly mosaics within the marble floors and glass mirrors, carpets strewn with color and decadent red light fixtures in the casino.

We spent three nights in Las Vegas and really…that was all we needed. Tiesto was first on the list to see at Hakkasan, which was a club that I hadn’t been to before in Vegas. The last time I was in the city, Hakkasan was just opening so I was interested to see what all the hype was about. When in Las Vegas, clubs and casinos are part of the sights to see as each is elaborately decorated and has its own theme. Hakkasan wasn’t as visually pleasing as clubs like Marquee and Tao but we had an awesome view  and a table in a great spot. 

A lot of people hate on Tiesto because he’s deviated from his roots however I thought his set showcased his versatility as a DJ and knowledge of his audience. He threw down a wonderful mixture of trance, deep house, big room and wedged in an Iggy Azalea vocal just for fun. My trance-devoted friends weren’t the biggest fans but to me Tiesto showed why he’s arguably the most famous DJ in the world. He can piece together tracks from all different genres and knows how to please and surprise a crowd. 

The next night was Kaskade who I was so determined to see because he’s been my #1 since I first got into dance music.  He played at XS Nightclub, which was right inside the Wynn. Kaskade stayed true to his softer, dream-like classics while mixing in deep house and then laying out louder bass lines and synths to complement the Las Vegas party scene.  I don’t know why his music reminds me of glitter. Glitter, dreams and nostalgia people. That sums up Kaskade. 

Last but not least was the one and only Lil Jon who spun at Surrender. He threw down by far one of the most fun parties in Vegas and reminded everyone that he still holds the crown of crunk. He hyped up the crowd, having everyone jumping to hip-hop, trap and house and he made sure to sprinkle in plenty of raspy YEAHs and OKAY and LET’s GO in between songs. The best were his east coast, west coast shout outs in which he mirrored the music to represent each coast. 

Check out more photos from the trip, including our hike in Red Rock Canyon, which is about 30 minutes or so outside Las Vegas. I highly recommend taking some time to get away from the city’s craziness for some peace and quiet amid the desert. 

The view from our amazing room

Red Rock Canyon

Miami Music Week

After a very stressful few months of work and successfully pulling off a great client event, I needed to get out of the stuffiness that D.C. can be and head to sunny Miami. Miami Music Week was a refreshing break from work that allowed me to let out some serious steam and be wrapped up in amazing music.

I've been to Ultra Music Festival before but this time I wanted to experience the day parties and see what else happens in the city. First pool party we went to was the All Gone Pete Tong party which was my slice of house heaven. The lineup included Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano, MK, Oliver Heldens, Nathan Barato and many more. We then popped over to the Clevelanders to see Arty play.

Next up on the list was the Anjunabeats party at the Raleigh Hotel. The party was in a beautiful space with a chill crowd and ample space to dance and then relax when you needed a break. The lineup included Mat Zo, Norin & Rad, Audien, Arty and Matt Lange. I was planning to stay till the end so I could see Seven Lions play but my crazy friends decided that we make an impromptu appearance for the last hour of Ultra for Paul Van Dyk's closing set. was so worth it. 

Check out Miami photos below! 

Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano playing at the All Gone Pete Tong party. 

Oliver Heldens spins at the All Gone Pete Tong party. 

The beautiful Raleigh Hotel where the Anjunabeats pool party took place.

Norin & Rad spinning at the Anjunabeats pool party.

Mat Zo plays at the Anjunabeats pool party. 

Hello beach and sun!