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Manic Miami

Manic Miami

Ocean Drive
Despite last night's hectic rush, there's scant rest for the wicked and we're up by midday to catch some weekend Miami rays on Ocean Drive. Thanks to the weekend influx of US partygoers and more Spring Breakers, the volume of human traffic on Ocean has near on quadrupled. Which means against the constant flowing soundtrack of booming hotel parties, our stroll is taking a painfully stop-start rhythm as the crowds shuffle and shimmy through. The weather is equally erratic with thrashing showers one minute, blazing sunshine the next – not the ideal setting for our next destination of Ultra Festival.

Ultra Festival
After another mammoth lunch at Front Porch (Mexican chicken wraps and nachos if you're wondering), we jump straight in a yellow cab to Ultra's annual site, Bicentennial Park. With two days of just about every dominant dance genre you could think of (trance/house/drum and bass/techno/breaks), the massive Ultra Fest is essentially the Global Gathering of the US dance calendar. Just minus the tents and fairground rides. And with the rain fall continuing it's even got Global's treacherous mud pit curse to boot. Not that it's dampening the atmosphere too drastically – the US rave masses have descended on the Bicentennial and the place is buzzing in all directions.

Mad Arena Dash
As for us, we begin our mad dash round the arenas. We check out Sander Van Doorn thundering out tech-trance on the main stage, sat at the heart of a colossal concert stage, sky scraping hotel building and a stretching highway peeling in the background. Then it's over to the Amnesia stage where Mauro Picotto is getting things going with his seductive minimal and techno groovers before checking the d&b stage. This is where it's really going off. Shy FX's amen-thundered breakbeats are met with MC Skibadee's razor tongued rave rhymes as a mosh pit of flailing arms and rockin shoulders ignites at the front. The rain continues yet the atmosphere lifts further still as Skiba skips jokingly through the rain with an umbrella. "We don't give a fuck about the rain," he barks, seizing the MIC.

Rain Stampede
Half an hour later the showers hit their most thundering peak though. An instant stampede towards the shelter of the one indoor arena – the Carl Cox & Friends tent - ensues. Following the crowds we find Coxy himself on a three hour techno journey here and then head back to the main stage for Paul Van Dyk's soaring trance synths. Once Ultra comes to a close at midnight it's back to the hotel to change our rain soaked clothes and grab a quick wash. Then it's straight in a cab to Washington Avenue.

Washington Avenue Overloaded
The atmosphere on here tonight is like nothing else – manic, excitable and hectic. Outside Cameo, where David Guetta is hosting his F*** Me I'm Famous party, there's a scrum in all directions as hundreds are told if their names not down they're not coming in. One in, one out – the place is rammed. Strolling down Washington, slick sports cars and silicon supported dresses streaming past us, it's much the same at every other club we walk past – particularly at Space where Dutch trance maestro Tiesto is playing. Eventually, we find a club that we might be able to get into without queuing for over an hour; at Lee Burridge's Barrage at B.E.D.

Burridge's Barrage
After half an hour straggling about in the queue, we get to the front only to be told that only paying customers are coming in; so even if our name is down (which it is), we're not coming in! Great. Thankfully, some choice words with the English doorman and the bizarre conversational discovery that he used to live on my road means we're fast tracked in. Inside, it's a mainly US crowd getting down to Burridge's deep, well built set of melodic techn and deep tech-house. It's when Burridge takes a turn into the past and drops A Guy Called Gerald's 'Voodoo Ray' that the atmosphere seriously lifts; with instant intense cheers meeting those unmistakable other worldly vocal cries.

Pawn Shop Debauchery
5 am rolls by… and B.E.D. closes its doors but our night hasn't closed its curtains. Not just yet anyway. Taking full advantage of our final, it's over to the Pawn Shop Lounge for the fittingly titled Sunday School For Degenerates. For the first time this week, we find the outdoor terrace open with the cosmopolitan after hours mix and Dollz At Play's sexy minimal sounds giving things a distinctly DC10 gleam – especially when the sun rises up over the decks at seven AM. We catch Mr C, Steve Bug and James What and Jesse Rose and as well having a catch up with Steve Lawler and Adam Beyer – both on the floor and enjoying the rays.

Rushed Return
Midday starts to appear on the horizon and the unwelcome reality of our hotel check out looms so it's back to the Miami Beach Resort and Spa to pack our scattered possessions, gather our marbles and head off to Miami Airport. It's all over for another year and whilst we've seen the Miami landscape is a fast changing one – with less European industry here yet more US punters getting involved – the sheer volume of quality parties make it one of the most important dates on the dance calendar. Same time again next year then…