Having already etched his name indelibly in the firmament of the international dance music community, locally-based DJ/Producer Robbie Rivera has brought the party to the Magic City for over a decade now, establishing the perennial staying power of his Juicy Beach party over the course of several WMC/MMW weekends. In keeping with Rivera’s sterling reputation for curating the sounds of such massively-scaled parties, it was only fitting that he take to the decks in grand fashion, helming the Halloween festivities at Miami Beach’s Mansion Nightclub. There was no shortage of men decked out in costumes reminiscent of Brett Michaels circa 1987 and women in varying states of undress as the venue rolled out the thunder dome for a post-apocalyptic ally-themed party in homage to Mad Max. Regardless of the theme or the amount of people who may or may not have chosen to adhere to it, everyone had a singular notion uniting them; the urge to dance.
Performers in glimmering metallic costumes stood atop scaffolding adjacent to either side of the entrance to the VIP area in the rear of the venue, dancing and contorting in ways that sent beams of light scattering in every direction. Resident DJ Laurent Simeca delivered a hard-hitting set that straddled the line between raucous electro and bass-laden tech house. He seems to have the ability to continually improve upon his impeccable track selection week after week. The crowd was slow to pour in, stymied no doubt by the massive line that had filed along the sidewalks of Washington Avenue, eager to enter. Once he made his way into the booth, Robbie, accompanied by a boisterous MC, shook the venue to its foundations, shedding the predominant tribal sound that had pervaded some of his early work and instead ratcheting the intensity to insurmountable heights, starting it all off with his original track, “Forever Young.”
It seemed as though there was never at any point even the slightest hint of misgiving on behalf of Rivera as to what sort of tone his roughly three hour set should adopt, as the recurring theme through the evening must have been something along the lines of “bigger is better.” The massive space was adorned by the familiar ceiling lights that bolted in almost unpredictable patterns, yet always in unison with the music, which in turn engulfed everyone. Robbie’s track selection, while at times too frenetic in terms of pacing, was nonetheless varied and indicative of a keen sensibility for melding the best of conventional house with the electro that has come to pervade the mainstream. He was always certain to throw in the tracks, for which he is best known, including such staples as “Move, Move” and old favorites from other artists, such as Guru Josh Project’s classic, “Infinity 2008.”
The dance floor filled continually, buzzing with the ubiquitous shuffling of bodies to and fro; yet continue to pulsate, never relinquishing its hold over the crowd, drawing the energy inward, around the booth that peered over all, like an obelisk. Robbie showcased not only his impeccable ability to adapt his sound to the scale of the venue, but also flexed the rare ability to compromise the sound of his original productions with a more relentless and energetic tempo. He also did it with the class of a true veteran and with a quiet yet poised sense of exuberance that was palpable just from looking and listening.