DJ Times & Expo Bring its Mojo to Monaco

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DJ Hero 2's DJ Tiesto behind the decks
DJ Hero 2’s Tiesto in effect

Ibiza? Been there. Las Vegas? Yawn. Winter Music Conference? Done that. But, we gotta say, clubbing in Monaco is an altogether different level.

The Monaco International Clubbing Show (MICS) drove that truth home this past weekend in a variety of ways. Held Nov. 11-14 at the sparkling Grimaldi Forum on the Mediterranean coast, the show offered a slate of daytime exhibits and panels—one of which implicated Madonna’s boyfriend as the type of DJ who’s destroying the industry—while the club portion rocked late into the night at some of the world’s poshest venues.

And, of course, DJ Times was in effect, with a media tent and as a presence on a seminar, “Clubs and Media.”

The MICS trade show presented a mixture of lighting, sound and design booths from club heavies like Sennheiser, Funktion-One and Clay Paky. A section of “New Tech” exhibits featured companies like Activision, which showed the new DJ Hero 2 game. Loved those cardboard cutouts of game avatars Tiësto and Deadmau5.

Along with major club brands like Sankeys, media sponsors like DJ Times and French pub OnlyForDJ’s enjoyed plush meeting areas, while beverage companies—from Grey Goose to Chivas, Monster Energy to Carlsberg—entertained attendees with a heady mixture of DJ-fueled beats and 6-foot models offering free samples.

Good thing, too, because the clubbing wasn’t always as cheap.

At Jimmy’Z—the ultra-popular celeb haunt that entertains regulars like U2’s Bono—a pair of Carlsberg bottles cost €40 (about $54). After recovering from my near-stroke, I had to consider the surroundings. After all, just across the street from the Grimaldi Forum one could find a Rolls-Royce dealership, right next to a Lamborghini dealership, right next to a Bentley dealership. Welcome to the deep end.

Still, we did get to see Jimmy’Z in all its glory on an evening when Germany’s Boys Noize and France’s Feadz blasted the joint with electro bombs that had a skyline of models teetering in their heels and a cadre of ascot-rocking playboys fist-pumping like Jersey Shore rats.

And after the club’s resident DJ Carmine Sorrentino scored us a few free Carlsbergs—grazi, signor—he told us a story of how Stevie Wonder once came into the club, listened to his set of soulful jams, then requested a moment with the DJ to say how much he enjoyed his evening. Of course, the legendary artist couldn’t have known that, hearing such a thing from one of his heroes, Sorrentino had tears in his eyes.

At the Grimaldi, in the temporary MICS Club outfitted with a teeth-rattling Funktion-One sound system, Bob Sinclar held sway with his crowd-pleasing brand of sing-a-long house. (Beers were only €10 a piece there.) On the Port of Monaco across town—or rather, on the other side of the world’s second-smallest country—American fave Dennis Ferrer kicked it at Black Legend and Dutch treat Chuckie blasted the Brasserie.

Of the nine MICS seminars, “DJing & Technology” offered the most illuminating moments. After panelist Sorrentino detailed how evolving technologies have helped create a new generation of DJs, he warned, “It’s now easier to mix, but it’s still not easy to DJ.”

Fellow panelist Sinclar agreed, “I play CDs because I want to connect with the dancefloor and not stare at a laptop. With the new [DVS] systems, DJs play music with their eyes and not their ears anymore.”

Then he dealt a little dirt on the nagging notion of the celebrity DJ: “Money has now become the essence of DJing—everyone wants to rise through the ranks too quickly,” he said. “I’ll give you an example: I played a club in South America. I finished my set and [Madonna’s on/off boyfriend] Jesus Luz was set to DJ after me. He had a technician set up his computer and then when I finished my set, he ‘went on.’

“He jumped around the booth, waved his arms and pointed everywhere, but he never touched the computer. [Laughs.] Somehow, people in the room seemed to like it. [Laughs.] So, I guess that proves if you can’t really DJ, you must fuck the right girl!”

Then Sinclar became serious. “When 2,000 people are in front of you, you can’t lie,” he said. “You have to understand what makes people move. It’s more than buying 10 hot tracks on Beatport or Tracksource. It takes talent.” Word.

And when it was all over, we did find a moment to relax in the one Irish pub in Monte-Carlo—McCarthy’s, not far from the Grimaldi’s glitz and glamour. Price of a Guinness pint? A relatively reasonable €6.

Merci, MICS. We’ve never been to a convention like this one.

– Jim Tremayne