This past week, I packed my bags and headed east to Miami, that gorgeously naughty city in South Florida that rivals New York City and Los Angeles in its beauty and nightlife. The purpose was a professional one, a marketing and interactive conference for Latinos. But aside from the seminars and gift bags and networking, the most adventurous and rewarding time at any conference or festival is always the afterparty.
Below are just some of the extracurricular activities that had me dancing, and the soundtrack that accompanied them:
Wednesday, 8 p.m. Its been a very long few days. By the time I get back to my hotel, I will have been awake for almost 40 hours straight, with only two 20-minute naps on my flights from Houston to Atlanta to Miami. I try to listen to YG's album My Krazy Life on the plane, but I accidentally downloaded the edited version, which drives me nuts. The album jams regardless, with YG's sleepy yet tough-guy delivery putting me in a West Coast state of mind even though I'm headed east.
So now I'm on a bus that is transporting a handful of bloggers and other media types to a private yacht for a night of drinking and salsa dancing; it doesn't get any more Miami than that. The view at sunset is just about perfect, and the DJ plays a collection of what seems to be every Latino classic from the '90s to the present: El General, DLG, Marc Anthony, Proyecto Uno, and the pre-Mr. Worldwide Pitbull, when he was just a hood rapper from the MIA. A colleague from Dallas and I dance the night away. My hips and thighs begin to burn, so we visit the open bar early and often. What's that? She teaches Zumba on her spare time?! Well, that explains that!
We visit the McDonald's in Little Havana afterward for a late-night snack, then head home to get ready for the next night.
Thursday, 9 p.m. Today's events end with a concert by the legendary percussionist and bandleader Sheila E. This ravishing lady may be in her fifties, but she is amazingly gorgeous and plays with the energy of a woman more than half her age. She jumps off the stage to dance and take photos with her fans. I was able to capture this one, even if I got photobombed in the process:
Sheila has an album called ICON that dropped earlier this year. Do yourself a favor and pick it up, because this lady is one of the most talented artists in the biz. In the meantime, it's "The Glamourous Life" time:
Friday, 12 a.m. After pre-gaming in the hotel room with a bottle of Skyy and a game of Head's Up, the crew and I are off to a bar called "Shots" in Wynwood, but like a dummy, I forget my ID and passport back at the hotel. The party here seems dead anyway, so after a quick trip back, we end up at a very cool hipster bar called Wood Tavern.
This was the same bar I visited during my time at Art Basel here last December. The back patio is where the fun happens, with lovely bartenders pouring strong drinks, a DJ rocking it and $2 tacos. I'm desperately seeking my second wind:
Friday, 3 a.m. The party in Miami doesn't end until four in the morning, so we arrive at an upscale spot in Brickell named Blue Martini. More drinks. More salsa dancing. More beautiful women. Life, as they say, is good.
More Marco After Dark on the next page.
Friday, 5 p.m. On the last day of the conference, I get to chill with Los Rakas and La Santa Cecilia, two of the best and brightest stars in Latin music right now. Their performances to close out the event is intimate, interactive and very, very loud. Rakas' new album "El Negrito Dun Dun y Ricardo" drops next week.
Friday, 8 p.m. My time in Miami ends with a private dinner provided by The New Cricket Wireless. The location is Haven in Miami Beach, which uses projectors to cover the walls with colorful visuals, and boasts a top-notch bar and food menu.
My story is one of three that are spotlighted at tonight's dinner. My photography work and career path are put on display in front of a room full of elite Latino trendsetters and influencers. The reaction is positive, and I can't help but to smile wide and thank everyone for their support.
Here is my video:
After dinner, a few of us find a nearby bar to watch the Miami Heat game and celebrate with a few beers. My shuttle to the airport is picking me up at 3 a.m. for an early flight, so I call it a night. Thank you again, Miami. Until next time.
Saturday, 6 a.m. #iWokeUpLikeDis
P.S. Don't hate on the Miami Marlins hat. I lost my Houston hat at the airport so I had to buy this one at the last minute. I have more than 20 Houston Astros hats at home, and I will never quit repping H-Town. And hey, at least it's not a Miami Heat cap!
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