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Words: Craig Torrance
Published in Mixmag May 2011
Where Mokai, 235 23rd Street, South Beach, Miami
When Zabiela’s annual Miami session and gigs all year round
Music House, techno and more
It’s a scene straight out of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. But that’s hardly a surprise given we’re in the American city on which the game was based: Miami. At the far end of South Beach, inside the kitsch Mokai club, pink lasers shoot into the smokey darkness in tandem with the beats, breaks and bleeps supplied by UK DJ James Zabiela. The blonde-maned gadget obsessive bounces around the DJ booth brandishing his new DJ toys like a five year-old on his birthday.
As the annual week of label and artist parties comes to an end, James has taken over the venue for a night (he’s also thrown a boat party) and invited a few friends down to play, including techno goddess Magda. As the crowd starts to build, all that can be seen above the booth is the top of the petite DJ’s bobbing head as she bashes out her powerful brand of bassline-dominated techno and the ravers (including peers Richie Hawtin and Dubfire) lap it up.
There’s a short respite as Zabiela takes over and the delicate tones of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke ring out, but the madness soon ensues again as he drops in a throbbing bassline. Those in attendance, including a fair few scantily-clad females in racy attire and slick, gangster-type males, are completely consumed by the fusion of epic house, breaks and electronica, whoops, cheers and chants in many languages declaring their approval. If you’re looking for the traditional Miami party experience, a la GTA, then James Zabiela’s party style and ethos comes very close.