Mass Distraction

It took more than a few scud missiles to break up the party at the Winter Music Conference.


Give Peace a Dance

11 p.m. EST, Saturday, March 22 U.S. Marines report "fewer than ten" casualties in firefights outside Nassiriyah.Outside the main entrance to Bayfront Park, a single demonstrator carries a placard that says "Shocked and Aweful." It's unclear if he's commenting on the war or the sensory bombing campaign beyond the gates where more than 25,000 vibe troopers march between five staging areas. Bodies lie scattered on grassy knolls, casualties of pharmaceutical friendly fire, fallen into cuddle puddles.

Ten hours into this fourteen-hour mega-fest, the faithful await the Miami debut of British live techno duo Underworld. Sitting in the garden of the Royal Palm hotel at sunset the day before, frontman Karl Hyde said he hoped to offer the crowd deliverance.

"I feel uncomfortable and powerless," said Hyde about the war. "But you know, I came to dance, and that's my job today. It's not [to] preach. Dance is creating positive situations where tens of thousands of people have got happy for hours and hours on end. It's like ripples in a pond, isn't it?"

Hyde says his father was worried about him boarding a flight for a gig in the United States. "Can't they postpone it?" his father asked, reaching his son at the airport where just a few days earlier, two men had been stopped carrying homemade bombs. Hyde knew what his father meant, but he egged him on. "Postpone what? The war?"

As a Brit, the heir of an already fallen empire, Hyde has lived with terror his whole life. He remembers seeing a bartender blown up when he was a young man in the IRA Birmingham pub bombings of 1974. "Do you think the world is any less safe now than at any other time?" he asked his father. "Postpone what?" he repeated to himself in the garden at the Royal Palm. "Postpone life?"

Going on after dark, Underworld transforms the amphitheater into an orgy of the perpetual beat. Waving hands in the air, the crowds dance ecstatically in the aisles, on the benches, against the barricades, and spin in circles beneath green lasers skittering like tracer fire. They have been liberated.

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