This article first appeared in Square Issue 8, published in 2010.
Four and a half years ago, I was sitting in the smoking room of Ward W1A in Whitchurch Hospital, listening to Tom Novy’s “Nouveau Niveau” album, and assorted free CDs from DJ Mag, either on a discman or a cheap CD radio. I was reading about something called the Miami Winter Music Conference in DJ Mag, and wishing I was out there – it looked like great fun in the adverts. I did in fact have a couple of thousand pounds in my bank account as I had recently taken redundancy from a call centre job. However, given that I was quite heavily medicated, and was under doctor’s orders, it was probably better for me just to dream about being there.
This year, finding myself once again with a dollop of cash in the bank, but this time not holed up in hospital, I decided I would splash out on a trip to Miami. It was all very last minute. I had talked about going with a friend, and as he was busy in March, when the WMC takes place, he suggested we plan it properly and go next year. But this year, it was the 25th anniversary, and I just had a nagging urge. I asked facebook friend, Richard West, aka Mr C, for his views. It ran something like:
“I have my finger poised on the ‘book ticket to Miami’ button – what do you think?!”
“Do it! Gonna be a hell of a party! Also – look out for the chocolate Welsh Cakes!”
I had no idea what the second part of the message meant, but this seemed like a dare that I could not pass up on. I hit the button, and 6 hours later, I was on a 6am coach to Heathrow, with a roughly 24 hour journey ahead of me, on no sleep.
There is something quite exciting about spending quite a bit of money doing something completely unplanned. I told my family just the day before, and told no-one on facebook, except for Mr C and someone I knew in Miami I’d half-hoped I’d be able to meet out there, but didn’t as it turned out. It feels like you’re doing something sneaky these days if you don’t tell the whole world about it on facebook first.
On my arrival at Heathrow, I was told I would need to fill out a form before entering the USA, and that this needed to be done online in advance. I had 15 minutes to quickly nip up to the airport’s internet area, fill out the form, and get back to the check-in desk, and then literally had to run through security to make it to the departure gate and onto the plane.
I was onboard, and on my way. It was a pretty budget airline, so the seats were drab and cramped. Fortunately, I was in good company as next to me was a Scotsman, who despite being formally dressed, turned out to be an indie music aficionado. Colm had seen many of the same bands I had – My Bloody Valentine being a favourite of us both – and it was even quite likely we had both been to see Intastella at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow, almost 20 years ago! Colm was going to visit family and to play golf, but he was good at settling my nerves about my trip – he didn’t seem to think it was such a crazy thing to do, and just told me to have a good time.