If anything stands as a bombastic affirmation of the notion that Miami is a city that never ceases to party, it is witnessing a heaving throng of immaculately manicured women dancing atop the tables that lined the VIP areas, as flaming bottles of champagne emitted their lustrous embers into the air, complementing the swarming lights that ricocheted in every conceivable direction; slaves to the music, shining resplendently as the DJ dropped the beat. There aren’t many venues that would summon a talent of the caliber of revered Dutch DJ/Producer Fedde Le Grand on a weeknight, but South Beach’s Mansion Nightclub took hump day by the horns, drawing the diehard Miami beat freaks and their share of tourists from all walks of life, all uniformly enthused, eager to dance onward until the brink of the dawn.
Local talent Diego Camejo provided the right ambience in his opening set, gradually ratcheting the intensity in delicately layered waves with bass-laden Tech House beats that encumbered all of the vibes that one would associate with South Beach, while largely utilizing a selection of more obscure tracks. It is refreshing to see local talent that can mix compellingly without compromising the identity of their sets with bit and pieces of mainstream fare that otherwise seems out of place. The crowd was slow to pour in, given the fact that the local patrons that are commonly commingling with the tourists were largely absent. Slowly but surely however, the main room became a bustling entity with a life of its own, with all eyes converging on the booth, which peered onto the floor like some mystical tower, flanked at either end by massive speakers.
When Fedde finally took to the booth, the momentum shifted inward, as many individuals began recording enthusiastically, shouting their awestruck compliments as he warmly greeted his fans, he welcome contrast to the stoicism with which many DJs approach their audience. He opened his set with one of his signature tracks, “Put Your Hands Up 4 Detroit,” and thudded forth relentlessly, keeping the tempo of his set markedly high. The palette from which he drew was broad and it is remarkable to witness the distinctions between Le Grand the producer, and Le Grand the DJ. He has the innate ability to eschew the pitfalls that tend to plague lesser-experienced artists, in terms of being capable of using his own productions in a way that only complements the other tracks he selects. Le Grand’s own body of work is much more atmospheric, ethereal and slow-burning than most of his contemporaries, and much of the tracks he spins, for that matter.
It is this propensity to channel both ends of the spectrum that makes him so effective behind the decks. He can seamlessly transition between the hard-hitting electro that has come to dominate the club circuit and throw in some of his own slower tracks like “So Much Love” or his reworking of Coldplay’s “Paradise.” The fanfare with which Fedde was greeted was palpable. Many fans lurched over the studded metallic platform, hoping to shake hands with Le Grand, as he dexterously commanded his control deck, actively mixing with resolute determination, while beaming a smile into the heaving throng that danced with reckless abandon. If there is any ingredient to the magic that Le Grand brings to his performances it is his ability to mirror the love, admiration and respect he receives from his audience directly at them. He takes heed to the notion that a DJ is only as good as the crowd to which he plays. It is evident that he loves what he’s doing, and for that, he commands the stage with as much charisma and class as anyone in Dance music. The spacious and opulent confines of Mansion, coupled with the tremendous lighting and sound system served to amplify the experience infinitesimally, as it lent a distinct “Miami flavor” to the whole affair.