By Michael E. Miller
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Munzenrieder
By Sabrina Rodriguez
By Michael E. Miller
By Carlos Suarez De Jesus
By Luther Campbell
By Kyle Munzenrieder
Saturday night in Coconut Grove, the young and horny cruising the streets, operating on sheer gonad power. An overinflated shopping mall, weird at heart, past all semblance of reason. Club A debuting a new effort with Power 96, Casanova's in the Grove, drawing on the reputation of the legendary Hialeah dance club/cha-cha palace. Latin sex cubs with teased hair and tight skirts over generous asses, trailed by aging roues and pomade boys, preening in the bathroom mirrors like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever: "Oye, man, I wish this place had blow dryers." A security guy in black at the door, sweeping a metal detector over each supplicant, checking for weapons and attitude problems. The second floor one big sweaty zoo, pounding with dead-ahead, uncomplicated dance music. Boys affecting an aura of toughness, sneering and cupping their balls. Girls in hot pants and sheer tops, crouched down, mounting the wire-link fencing surrounding the dance floor. A cross between West Side Story and a rabidly heterosexual remake of a lesbo-a-go-go Women in Prison B-movie.
Downstairs a somewhat less throbbing lounge with lighted panels of trendy imagery, people dancing on tables, threesomes in complicated sandwich-of-lust formations. Bartender Ed Kauper amusing the regulars by dousing his hand with alcohol, setting his fingers afire and lighting cigarettes. Club A manager Lenny Norelli, who's also involved with Broadway Billards in North Miami Beach, touting his promotion team -- Brandon Bury, Sam Duque, and Eddie Mix -- and working the Power 96 turf. Appparently a radio station/lifestyle concept with a following as dedicated and oddly variegated as the Dead Head set: "We had another Power 96 promotion in here, but it was the wrong crowd, eighteen-and-over, the kids who went to Luke's and Mako's Bay Club. They got kind of nasty -- you know, rump-shaker contests and all that. Now it's 21-and-over with a dress code."
The A/Power 96 crowd encompassing two sensible-enough girls at the bar, Kim Dubois and Adora Houghlind, full of philosophical speculations on nightlife. Dubois, over the music and the Art Deco district: "The thing that makes me sick about the Beach is the way everybody is fucked up on drugs." Houghlind, visiting from Nashville, soaking up the Magic City: "Everything is alternative there. This one place, Midnight Sun, has Dr. Seuss drawings and Emerson quotations in the bathrooms. You walk in, and it's like `Wow.' Everybody looks the same there, though. This is such a strange mix of people. Kind of weird, but kind of cool, too. Guess that's Miami for you."
Another weird-but-cool debut at the Holiday-Innish Peacock Cafe next door, contained within a new-era Grove building, featuring a macrobiotic foundation and a roller blade/bicycle rental shop. "The history of punk rock," presented by 25th Hour, filled with the 28-and-over, post-Punk/New Wave crowd, suspended in club hibernation since the closing of Fire & Ice. Women in Edwardian-male attire and black lace, men wearing eye shadow and Franciscan monk ensembles, lots of green spiked hair and nasty T-shirts: "Fuck Art. Let's Kill."
Heart-warming music, the Sex Pistols and beyond, stuff that brought back memories of all the great where-have-the-good-times-gone haunts: the original Kitchen Club, Beirut, Monday nights at the Village Inn, Fridays at Joseph's. DJ Alan Trueba, formerly associated with the 201 Club in Gainesville and an array of now-throughly dead local our-generation clubs, functioning as the pied piper of the underground, luring out disenfranchised night creatures: "We used to have great times at the old New Wave Lounge in Fort Lauderdale. People were putting razor blades on their jackets, slam dancing and cutting each other up. But my friends don't go out any more; it's all house music and hip-hop now. This is fast, rugged music: Ministry, the Ramones, Richard Hell, Jim Carroll's `People Who Died.' Definitely no disco."
Trolling through a time warp, accompanied by a real rugged Cassandra Complex number ("No, Herr Schmidt, I won't shit in your mouth, even if I do get to know you. You call that passion? You call that romance?"), the gang lamenting the passing of an era. A major mohawk named Edgar particularly offended by the current scene, a disgust akin to the futility of the pioneer surrealists, confronting the ugly nihilism of their progeny, the Dada brigade: "All these crazy kids, screaming at girls. I don't feel comfortable. This generation is kind of hard. The city is growing, but not in the right way. People should be more open-minded. And definitely more polite."
Baja Beach Club in the CocoWalk complex, politeness and all other bourgeois standards of conduct completely beside the point, lots of wayward youth in self-involvement training. Dan Marino's American Sports Bar & Grill occupying the first floor, an odd tribute to the sporting life: a virtual-reality machine, guys in electronic headgear looking very foolish; an imitation cliff with a faux mountain climber; assorted quasi-adult toys and football memorabilia. Upstairs the Baja wonderland, girls in red-white-and-blue bikinis hunkered over steel tubs of beer, kids chiming along to "Get fucked, we're not going to take it anymore."
Outside, the music, the moon, the general kiss-my-ass sensibility inspiring a series of Teenage Wasteland skirmishes. Bouncers holding down malcontents with chokeholds, the Jets and Sharks girlfriends screaming: "Pobrecito, he didn't do anything.... What the fuck you looking at, man?" Interesting action, ringside commentary provided by two kids in matching hooded sweat suits/thug attire ("Nah, we're not gang bangers; this is just the way people dress in New York"), hanging tough: "These whites jumped this Spanish guy, you know, a prejudice thing. The cops got the wrong man. The rules are different down here, but I guess you have to break the rules sometimes."
Back to the Beach and ordinary aesthetic lawlessness. Mr. Sleaze, Victor Posner, dancing with his very young consort at Stars. Louis Canales hosting a small reception at his new club, Byblos, in the old Boomerang/Cave space. Les Bains doing a warm-up party shortly before the grand opening with Thierry Mugler. A collaboration between Charles Schreiner of The Strand and Hubert Boukobza and Philippe Fatien of Paris, and a truly beautiful airy space: white and black tile, light bouncing off cut-glass chandeliers, Moroccan-style candelabras. Boukobza, escorting the very stylish model Kristen McMenamy, taking the international long view: "Paris and Miami are very different. We like the beautiful people who might spend a thousand dollars at the bar, and the trendy people who need to have drinks bought for them. Everybody comes to clubs here: black, white, gay, straight. We want the right-way crowd. Not chic, necessarily. Chic is in your mind.