Swelter

Club columnists just want to have fun, not provoke the fall of Western civilization, but some readers -- and a few friends lately -- horrified by our shocking lack of moral/political/intellectual consciousness. Correspondents in particular offended and disgusted, which, ironically, pretty much sums up our usual frame of mind. One writer going on about a "grand piece of bullshit," written by a "numbskull" given to "homosexual puns," and then suggesting a few phrases of his own along the way: "Man Against Man...

Hot stuff and Miami fudgepacking." True art, what with the relentlessly shallow coverage of "all night dance and beer parties" being tragically overlooked by the root-of-all-human-evil. Another reader asking for "intellectual reading" rather than "senseless parties and the who-fucked-who-where scenes." Well, burrowing like a maggot through all the decayed meat of society takes its toll. But then we like to think of ourselves as a sort of throwback to Tobias Smollet, the cheerful, conscienceless Scotsman who chronicled the depravity of eighteenth-century England. Great stuff, and, as George Orwell pointed out, work that would be "ruined by any intrusion of the moral sense."

Sobering-enough criticism, but unfortunately, senseless parties and vacuous-but-diverting nights in clubs are part of the program. A "Sizzling Summer Sunday" at Sempers, hosted by the "Girls in the Night" crew. Black-and-white drawings on the walls, lesbians in a Joan-of-Arc phase, and a massive black doorman: "You understand that this is a gay party, right?" Gay girls dancing away, ringleader Lisa Cox making a cruel joke ("That'll be five bucks") and affecting introductions. A cozy, friendly party, the specter of sex, thank God, totally out of the question. "Disco" at The Cameo a frantic hetero battleground packed to the rafters, an unkind bright light coming up in an illusion-destroying way during the "play that funky music, white boy" refrain.

Dark thoughts about the futility of it all, then the perfectly earnest Brazilian model/fashion designer Joana Bueno materializing out of the satanic maelstrom, proving that upright human beings actually go out at night. Bueno wearing one of her own cotton Lycra catsuits, having a show this fall at the Miami International Merchandise Mart, and heading off in September for a modeling stint in Japan. Her design firm, Boca Loca Inc., a partnership with fellow Brazilians Alba Nascimento and Delia Camposs, apparently also producing bikinis and the sort of short, tight dresses appropriate for lounge-lizard leisure wear. Twenty-four, ambitious, and at peace with the world, something of a dim memory personally: "I came from Dizinopolis in Brazil four years ago. The clubs here are so much better, so many different types of music. Miami is great."

On to the great and not-so-great, bits and pieces of the club/party/culture circuit. Nightclubs having exhausted every possible sexploitation angle, Club One in Coral Gables moving into the possibly arousing neoviolence area with a weekly series of boxing matches. Malcolm Jamal-Warner of The Cosby Show having an after-hours party at The Spot. Lily Zanardi of Stilnovo throwing a party at her chic Coral Gables furniture store. A dinner for designer Norman Gosney of the new club Hell at Barocco Beach. Hype-chat about Tattler, the London Sunday Times Magazine, and Stern doing the obligatory South Beach article. "Dwelling Places" at the World Gallery on Lincoln Road, an exhibition of new work by sculptor Alvaro A. Garcia. Connie May Fowler, author of the wonderful novel Sugar Cage -- featuring a collection of compelling circa-Sixties Northern Florida characters, ranging from a white soldier to a voodoo priestess -- speaking at The Foundlings Club on August 19. And, to end the mad whirl on the right ethno-culture note, a tribute concert at the James L. Knight Center for mambo pioneer Israel "Cachao" Lopez, Cachao -- Mambo y Descarga.

Co-promoter and actor Andy Garcia setting a high-purpose tone, opening with a reading from the work of Federico Garcia Lorca. Cachao, accompanied by pros like Nestor Torres, Paquito D'Rivera, and Alfredo "Chocolate" Armenteros, launching into a series of vintage Cuban dances, danzones, gentle songs about what Garcia calls "the ritual of courtship." Marred somewhat by a party of Cuban burghers chattering away heedlessly behind us, an approach to audience decorum they probably would have taken with the second coming of Christ. Intermission, the lobby popping. Actor Robert Duvall real intense, moving fast and mumbling "thank you" to an assortment of gushing admirers. Olga Garay, director of cultural affairs at the Wolfson Campus of Miami-Dade Community College, doing an Anglo head count, six and still counting. Poet and art curator Ricardo Pau-Llosa working on a variety of Latin American art projects, Cuban painter Arturo Rodriguez and a major-hair glamour girl in a tiger-print jumpsuit, an exhilarating summit of vulgarity beyond capturing.

Slipping down front to the VIP section afterward, easier listening, and somehow, easier breathing, too. Garcia playing drums for the second section of the concert, descargas, jazz improvisation sessions with insistent Afro-Cuban rhythms. Cachao's bass rumbling beneath, explosive clarinet and saxophone solos. The occasional screaming adolescent voice -- "Andy, we love you." Gloria and Emilio Estefan climbing up on stage, milling around awhile, Torres explaining the artistic process: "With descargas, you really don't know what you're going to do until you're doing it." Everybody eventually chanting, "Hey, Gloria Sol" to a big mamboland finish.

A cubanissima reception afterwards at the Hotel Inter-Continental Miami, fried steaks, dancing, guests along the order of designer Tessi Garcia (sister of Andy) and Elly Levy of Yuca restaurant. Publicist and co-promoter Aida Levitan looking relieved, the Latin social press in a feeding frenzy, tiger-print-jumpsuit woman tricking up and putting on airs. Richard Perez-Feria, of Miami Mensual and proof Marketing, accompanied by partner Ruth Beers, discussing their new clients -- Israeli fashion coordinator Leah Marks and PRO-Miami, the young professional support group at Cedars Medical Center Foundation -- as well as a chance encounter with Andy Garcia at Office Depot. Entertaining enough, but naturally, there always has to be a better party operating in a parallel universe. In this case, a slightly more intimate reception in the hotel's Le Pavillon Club, functioning at the crashable level. Lots of champagne, Cachao chatting with fans, Andy talking of his new movie about the old Havana days, The Lost City: "It's going great. We're looking for a distributor now. It should be coming out by autumn."

For some reason, none of the usual irate stewing over not being invited to the A-party. Getting older, maybe a little deeper, slightly conscious of how hopelessly stupid and elusive Andy Warhol's dream gathering really is: "The ultimate party -- the one you're really dying to get into -- is the one where the worst person who's going to be there is you.

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