Tis’ the season to start groovin’. Seriously, Groove Cruise Miami is coming up fast and before you know it the countdown clock is going to be in the single digits. The twelfth voyage from Miami sets sail January 22nd to 26th and docks in Ocho Rios, Jamaica for the first time ever. So even if this is your twelfth cruise, you have something special and unique waiting for you! For those of you who haven’t been initiated, the Groove Cruise is the world’s longest running and largest dance music festival at sea. The good people at Whet Travel have been perfecting the art of music festival cruises for over a decade now, and the result is one of the most complete music festival experiences one can have. If the dance floor calls to you and the untz untz vibrates through your veins, the Groove Cruise is a can’t miss experience. It’s the only festival where you can truly rub elbows on the dance floor with your favorite DJs and make a toast with old and new friends alike. With 96 hours of non-stop music to choose from, you can’t catch it all even if you tried. There are a few parties out there though that we highly suggest you don’t miss. From Groove Cruise legends to first time headliners, this year’s DJ roster has it all. Here’s where you can find Rabbits Black on the cruise enjoying some of our favorite artists in one of our favorite settings. Artists are listed in order of appearance.
Autograf is a trio from Chicago that got their musical start in the Indie Dance scene in their home city. They met at a basement party and were all members of former bands, but knew they wanted more and to create something that was truly different. Autograf was formed and the rest is history!
What makes Autograf – comprised of Jake Carpenter, Mikul Wing and Louis Kha – unique to the larger EDM scene is their dedication to their live set. One minute into a show and you’ll see exactly what makes them special. Live keys and beat pads are not new by any means, but it’s when you see Carpenter go wild on his marimba (similar to an electronic xylophone) or break out his conga drum while fully engaging the crowd, that you fully understand how great this trio has become. They also have backgrounds and love for visual art, which makes their live sets even that more unique. If you’re ready to see one of the best live and tropical sets you’ll ever see, make sure you don’t miss Autograf’s Sunset Session on Friday. What a great way to start our voyage!
You are only a few hours into the 96 hour marathon that is the Groove Cruise experience and you start thinking to yourself, “I can do this, no problem! I got this.” You look at your schedule and see a Markus Schulz open to close set staring you down at the Theatre. Whoa! There is no turning back now Captain…
It wouldn’t be the Groove Cruise Miami without Markus Schulz. It’s hard to believe that less than three years ago Markus had never stepped foot on a Groove Cruise charter. Just a few years later and he’s a lock for at least one cruise a year. Markus has done it all on the decks of the festival already- he’s debuted new tracks at the pool, headlined the private beach event, opened the Theatre with the opening set, closed down the Theatre with the final set, played a few secret shows, and even laid down a classics only mix. Talk about keeping busy! This year he brings his patented open to close experience to the cruise and it’s sure to be a celebration unlike any other. Markus celebrates his birthday yearly on the voyage, so get ready to partake in the fun this January.
Chus & Ceballos
If you want to take a break from the top deck and head to the underground, look no further than Chus & Ceballos’ set. These Playa mainstays have been getting dance floors to move for years, and now they are going to help you get down. It’s hard to tell who is more excited to be on GC Miami, their fans or themselves. Their second year aboard will see them bringing their infectious tribal beats and grooves to any late night party. Their blend of swinging tech house and driving techno rhythms are sure to keep partiers mesmerized and fully in the zone. If you want to get lost at sea, this is definitely the place to do it.
There are some artists that just know how to groove cruise. Sydney Blu is one of those. Sailing for her sixth year and tenth voyage, Sydney is a mainstay on the Groove Cruise lineup and a fan favorite across the board. She’s approachable and enjoys the experience for all that it is- a party unlike any other for the fans and the artists. Last year she grabbed honors in our recap for her haunting classics set in the Bliss Ultra Lounge. This year Sydney takes her talents to the main deck for the Daytime Pool Party on Saturday. One who knows how to play to the room, this should be one of the more unique sets at the main pool deck stage. Listen for the new track “Electric Era” from her first artist album Relentless which came out this past June. If this track doesn’t make you feel like cruising the Caribbean under the sun with 3000 sexy friends then we don’t know what will.
Zki & Dobre have been through the dance music ringer as many different iterations. However, as Chocolate Puma, this one appears to be the winner. Consistently putting out crushing beats and dirty basslines, these two were banging out “future house” jams back when it was just “house” music. Always electrifying, and adding their funky grit to any remix, Chocolate Puma bring the best of hard house with an infusion of electro to any party. Watching them throw down “Scrub the Ground” is worth the price of admission alone. If you’re feeling the ocean vibes and throwing your cares to the wind, this is the duo you cannot miss!
A true veteran of the main stage, EDX has been producing chart-topping dance hits for over two decades now. His style, which heavily utilizes major scale synth plucks and effervescent chord progressions to create uplifting house anthems, is a little bit of Gareth Emery tossed with deadmau5, and possibly a dash of Calvin Harris and Tiesto on the side. In other words, it is quintessentially suited for the copious amount of sand, sun, and crystal clear waters that the Groove Cruise has to offer. Take, for example, his bona fide earworm from last summer, “Air For Life,” which not only received extensive airplay on BPM and the other major electronic radio stations, but also encapsulated the carefree, PLUR spirit of the season (and to a larger degree the electronic music culture in general) perhaps better than any other song released that year. So if you need to feel inspired, leave whatever baggage—emotional or otherwise—you brought along with you back in your room and head up to the Sunset Stage on Saturday night. Come to think of it, the fact that this guy isn’t playing at the top spot on the Theatre stage just goes to show you how deep the GC bench really is this year. He’s really that good.
It’s been a huge year for one of our favorite performing DJs. Darude released Moments, his first album in over 8 years, in 2015 and headlined the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in September with a special appearance from deadmau5. To the rest of the dance music world, Darude stormed back on the scene in 2015. To Groove Cruise veterans, he never left. He’s been one of the most liked and approachable artists on the cruise for many years now, bringing a humble and positive attitude to the artists and fans around him. We’ve seen him talk with fans and cruisers throughout the day, and then follow that up with a stunning DJ set on the beach or in the Theatre. No matter where he plays, you can always expect something different when he takes the decks. His curated journey through the history of dance music on the last Miami cruise earned him top honors in our recap last year. Expect more of the same from Darude this year, and also something completely different.
Bingo Players originally were a Dutch house music duo made up of members Paul Bäumer and Maarten Hoogstraten. They originally produced tunes with more of a tech house vibe, including their first release “Touch Me” featuring Chocolate Puma, who are coincidentally also on the boat! Wonder if we’ll see a reunion of sorts at some point on the cruise?
In July of 2013 Bäumer announced that he had been diagnosed with cancer and that Hoogstraten would be representing the duo for their scheduled performances. Bäumer would move his focus to just producing in the studio, running their label Hysteria Records, and of course focusing on his treatment and health. On December 17, 2013 Bäumer unfortunately passed away after losing his battle with cancer. In early 2014 Hoogstraten announced that he would honor the wishes of Bäumer and continue to perform under the name Bingo Players. Shortly thereafter they released “Knock You Out” which became the group’s first number one track on the U.S. dance chart. The song, which features such lyrics as “My fight has won, who needs a gun,” is considered a tribute to the late Bäumer.
If you’ve never seen Bingo Players live before, then the headline set at the Bingo Beach on Sunday is not one to be missed! They’ve always brought an incredible energy to their performances, their emotional sing-alongs are ones for the ages and perhaps most importantly: provide one hell of a dance party. Hoogstraten is continuing the legacy and we can’t wait to be a part of it!
The Swiss DJ duo Dada Life, Olle Cornéer and Stefan Engblom, may have more fun than any other electronic artists on the planet. It is their mission to put smiles on the faces of their fans, and there is no track too big or stunt too outrageous for these madmen. It feels inevitable that Dada Life would take to the high seas with the Groove Cruise, and we’ve been waiting a long time for this.
To give you an idea of the kind of show you can expect, here are two (yes, two!) Guinness World Records they have set at their shows:
- On October 26, 2013, Dada Life broke the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest pillow fight at a Dada Land Compound event at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago.
- On July 19, 2015, Dada Life broke the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest gathering of people dressed as fruit at Dada Land: The Voyage, at San Manuel Amphitheater in Southern California.
Dada will be headlining the main Theatre Sunday night. While they would undoubtedly throw one hell of a beach party, the prospect of losing 200 inflatable bananas at sea might be too much of an environmental hazard! That must be the reason they’re keeping the Dada madness indoors. But as we’ve learned in the past, expect the unexpected on the Groove Cruise! You never know if/when they’ll sneak in another wild performance. After all, champagne and bananas are the perfect brunch foods.
Sander Van Doorn, SEBJAK, Dean Mason
Scheduling is one of the hardest tasks that Whet Travel has to taken on for each and every cruise. Getting the talent and artists to commit is just part of the job of putting together an amazing festival experience — figuring out when and where they are going to play is just as important. The flow of the music is dictated by the artists, and there may be no better party experience set up for success then the Theatre’s closing act on Monday night. We get a little bit of it all: Dean Mason, a Groove Cruise favorite and past DJ contest winner; SEBJAK, a European artist who is quickly rising in the world ranks and who is rarely seen Stateside; and Sander Van Doorn, a returning headliner and world renowned producer. The Theatre on Monday night has it all, and it’s going to produce one of the best nights on the cruise without a doubt. Make sure to catch each of these artists, as their styles match up perfectly to close down the Theatre in grand fashion.
And there you have it- 12 must see artists on the Groove Cruise Miami Xii. Make sure to experience as many sets and DJs as possible, everyone brings their A-game on the cruise and there is nothing in the world quite like it.