Armand Van Helden gives us the lowdown on where to go and what to see in his adopted city
This week sees the 30th edition of the celebrated Winter Music Conference in Miami, Florida. Over the years Miami has become the un-official starting pistol for the summer festival season and the conference has morphed into a huge week-long celebration of dance music that also includes Ultra Music Festival, the International Dance Music Awards, hundreds of off-conference events and host of boat and beach parties for #SpringBreak.
So we thought this was as good an excuse as any to flee from the London smog and spend the week emerged in the madness and mayhem of Miami Music Week. We'll be keeping you updated with everything that's been going on throughout the week on here along with a heap of videos and photos on our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, so make sure you follow us to avoid missing out.
Having just touched down in Miami, we were a little overwhelmed at the sheer variety of events and activities on offer, luckily our buddy and recent Masterpiece mixer, Armand Van Helden, was on hand to talk us through the best things to see and down in his adopted city.
The Best Place to Stay
The key thing is that Miami beach has a West side and an East side. The Eastside is on the Atlantic Ocean. The Westside is on the bay. For me personally, I love the ocean. I’d rather look at the waves and the aquamarine water, than the bay. The bay’s pretty and it has beautiful sunsets, but to me you can see a bay anywhere, I want to see the Atlantic Ocean. So you want to stay on the Eastside and really any hotel there is good. The Edition has great food, but there’s so many along there, any of them are good.
The Best Way to Spend an Afternoon
I think a big thing that you should look into is they have these bikes out here called Deco Bikes. Everywhere there are these bike racks, they’re spread all over South Beach. You put your credit card in and it’s maybe like eight bucks for 24 hours. One of the best things you can do out here is to get one of those and cycle down the boardwalk on the Atlantic side. It’s a great bike ride and I do it all the time.
Miami Beach Boardwalk
The Best Place to Hangout
There’s a bar down at the bottom of south beach. It’s a sort of tiki bar, they play yacht rock and a bunch of other underground music. It’s kinda like a hang. There are pool tables and sometimes there’s a band on. It’s just a good place to go for an ice-cold beer.
The Best Place to Eat
There are a lot of good restaurants. Miami has really upped its restaurant game. There’s a spot called Cleo on 18th street. It’s kind of mixed Mediterranean style. There’s a restaurant in the Edition called the Matador. It’s a Jean George restaurant, he does The Kitchen in New York and it’s one of my favourite restaurants. He kind of repeats the plates in Matador. There’s another place called The Forge, it’s a real eating experience. These are all quite high-end spots. I can’t really talk about any of the hood spots, because I’m a vegetarian and they’re always pretty pork heavy.
The Best Places to Pre-Drink
There’s this amazing part of Miami that tourists probably don’t know about called Wynwood. It’s about a ten minute drive from South Beach. There’s a ton of street art everywhere, it’s a super colourful place with great little shops and art galleries. When I tend to go out, that’s where I go. I don’t really want to be in the high-end. I mean I eat high-end, but I don’t like to hangout with high-end people. Wynwood is more my speed, it’s more starving artist. The have eclectic music and various craft beers, it’s a real interesting place. The two I like are Gramps and Wood. They’re mostly outside and everyday they do different events.
Something called The Wynwood Art Walk
The Best Place to Go Clubbing
There are plenty of nightclubs here. Miami Beach is known for its nightlife and they all go to the break of dawn. Some clubs don’t close at all. Like Club Eleven – which I have never been to – it doesn’t close at all. I think it opens on Friday and it closes on Sunday. It’s a full on club with strippers and it’s all crazy, it’s a huge space. I’ve been in there in the 90s when it was just a strip club, but not since it’s been a nightclub. And of course there’s Space and tonnes of others. It’s basically a pretty easy bet on Miami Beach, you can stumble into any nightclub and it’s usually pretty chaotic.
Inside Club Eleven
The Best Place to Watch the Sun Come Up
Oh that’s easy. The Atlantic side of Miami Beach. I think the most amazing sunrises I’ve ever seen are here. If there’s a ripple of clouds, get ready for a show. It’s just that perfect sunrise, it hits the clouds and it looks like a watercolour. Anywhere on the Eastside is the place to see it. Just go over there, look East and get ready.
The Best Place to Go / Thing to Do to Cure Your Hangover
I’m a big fan of coconut water. This is a good one. There are these guys on the boardwalk in South Beach with shopping carts. They knock down the coconuts off the palms. They crack them open with a machete, stick a straw in it then sell it for like five bucks. You’re walking around with an entire coconut and a straw. I don’t know if they’re allowed to do it, but nobody stops them.