I decided to write this sporadically after viewing some online discussions and also having a couple of people who inboxed me with this subject.
Some say that WMC has changed.
The question and debate remains is that has it changed for the good, or the bad? I am what some would consider to be a late bloomer of the WMC. Though I passionately love my house music I only started going to WMC since 2008 (mainly because of school and other commitments in previous years that would not allow me to go.) I will admit that when I first started going to WMC the venues and events seemed a lot more busier and packed than they were this year.
This in my view however, had not changed the spirit of WMC. Though I still saw the same memorable faces and deejays, in my eyes these people still had an energy and drive for the music, the vibe and the spirit. Some argue that WMC is in need to attract the younger crowd and generate newer younger faces impacting its future. Though I agree that it would be nice to see some younger faces, the more mature faces and “grown folks” I see at WMC is constant reminder of where the roots of house music started and who is still keeping it alive.
My own personal experience this year at WMC was great. I began my week by attending the Kings of Kings event with legends Louie Vega, David Morales and Tony Humphreys. In a nutshell these gentlemen put on an epic show that everyone would remember. Imagine being at a pool party packed with happy people all laughing singing, putting their differences and stressful lives behind and just enjoying the soulful house tunes these three gentlemen were all simultaneously spinning. Yeah it was that epic. So epic, that I uploaded some pics on instagram, facebook and twitter and smiled at my friends back at home in Toronto who were jealous that I was having this much fun down in South Beach. Throughout my week my nights consisted of dancing until my feet were tired to the deejays and artists such as Miguel Migs, Lisa Shaw, Doc Martin, Del, Joey Negro, Inaya Day,Jay-J, Stacy Kidd and bunch of other DJs and artists that would be too lengthy to list to and comment. In most of the events, I did not leave the venue until 4:30 or minutes to 5 in the morning and in some cases, these venues were still packed when I left.
Now to those who have read this, you probably think I had a great time. In fact, I did. It was awesome. But at the same time I enjoyed my time here, I was still overhearing and reading comments and debates about the future of WMC. As mentioned earlier, many argue that WMC is not attracting the younger crowds like it use to be. Many have argued that WMC should follow a format like Ultra Fest where you have a three day event and have three different stages where you have your deejays perform on a large fancy bright lit stage with all your fans staring up at the stage from a distance dancing up a storm. Some believe that this in turn would not only make WMC more popular and appealing to the younger crowd but it would also make WMC more profitable.
Here’s my problem with this:
First of all, house music has way too many different genres on it’s own that only having a 3 day festival would not be feasible. You have classic house, disco house, soulful house, gospel house, garage house, deep house, afro house, Latin house, just to name a few. It would be quite impossible to try to squeeze that in a 3 day festival. Furthermore, the reason why people such as myself flock to WMC is not only for the great music but the chance to interact with the artists themselves. The thing I love about WMC is that deejays and artists often mix and mingle in the clubs with their fans and music lovers, something that never occurs where I am from. Often in different cities the deejays and artists are often in a deejay booth or on stage away from their fans and the interaction becomes stagnant. With that said, if you were to have them up on stage, there will be a disengage and disconnect between the deejays and the fans. House music deejays feed off their energy from their fans and vice versa. A deejay is not gonna know how the audience feels if he or she is all the way up on the stage and can only see a sea of heads which they can’t tell are dancing or just standing still.
Secondly, having such an event would mean that only the known popular house music deejays would likely perform leaving the local and upcoming rising Deejays and artists abandoned. I can’t tell the amount of times that I have come to WMC and came back home researching, and following a DJ online because I heard them play at a local venue. WMC is about networking and connecting and having such an “UltraFest” format will loose these connections. Actually a couple of nights ago, I networked with some promoters who were from my own city (I did not even know of them) because of a great party they hosted.
Thirdly, we have to remember that the reason why “EDM” events like Ultrafest is so popular is because it has reached mainstream and has become popular now. People seem to forget that 15 to 20 years ago house music had reached mainstream and was being played on radio stations and music video stations and hence was popular. Tracks like Stardust’s “Music sounds better with you” Armand Van Helden’s “You don’t even know me” and Mousse T’s “Horny” were all popular house music tracks that got major exposure because during that time house music had become mainstream and in the public. Today it is “EDM’s” turn to experience that.
Next year is WMC’s 30th anniversary. For an event go on this long means that obviously WMC has been doing something good to last this long. Hopefully when I attend next year I will still be able to experience the same vibe, energy and love that I have experienced before. For sure changes needed to be done bcaut maybe we can think of alternative ways and maybe the organizers of WMC can be lending ear and listening to some suggestions. Change is good…but too much change can be a detrimental.