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The British superclub, located in the industrial city of Birmingham, rose quickly to international fame and now stands huge alongside the other nightlife meccas of Cream and Gatecrasher. The club decided to send its show on the road, promoting what has become a global party, and now, following a tour through Australia, Gods Kitchen will infuse the Magic City with its own brand of nightlife. "It fit," said Shadow Lounge owner Dade Sokoloff prior to the event's opening night on June 29. "They have a sound that does very well with us, so it was a natural mix."
That sound is a combustible swirl of deep house and edgy trance that has been perfected by Gods Kitchen's emissary for the evening, DJ John Fleming. "It's got to be one of the best clubs in the U.K. in terms of atmosphere," Fleming said in a thick English accent as he set up to man Shadow's tables. "They've spent a lot of money on the club and from a DJ's perspective it's a godsend, forgive the pun. But the layout is brilliant, you got your dance floor, your chill-out areas, just about everything."
When Gods opened just over four years ago, Fleming was picked to headline the night, so it's fitting he should represent the club on its first mission to the States. A seasoned vet of the dance-music scene (he's been spinning since 1984), Fleming has honed his sound on the rough edges of trance to forge ahead with his own distinctive style. "My music has always been the harder, more progressive sound of trance," he explains. "It's a bit more energetic, and I think the States are just starting to wake up to that sound. It's taken a long time, though, I can't understand why."
Call it a fear of the unknown or just trend skepticism, but Miami club crowds aren't so much concerned with the next big thing as the next sure thing. This becomes evident when those arriving at Shadow delicately test the floor waters during Friday-night resident Ariel Baund's tribal/trance set, which serves up a moody dish of ceremony and anticipation. "I think American crowds have been kind of brainwashed into thinking all trance has is Sasha and Digweed," Fleming says. "Not that there's anything wrong with them, I love “em myself, but there's more out there as far as trance goes and it's time to educate folks about that."
Gods Kitchen has made its name on that very sound, but the club also draws crowds with its spectacular design and light shows, the equipment for which was held up at customs in Tennessee before opening night. "The owners are like 100 percent about everything they do, so when we found out about the delay we didn't know what to do," says Shadow's gatekeeper Kris, done up in red horns in a not -so-subtle hint that this kitchen has its dark side. "So at about 3:00 p.m., we were scrambling to put this all together, which I think came out rather well."
Set in deep warm colors with the Gods logo swimming in a bubbling brown sea, what comes out is an eclectic crowd of bell-bottomed girls in navel-rising t-shirts and black-suited men on cell phones. The ominous groove flowing from the booth creates a medieval vibe that paves the way for Fleming's underground style. "I've never played for a proper Miami crowd before, so I'm anxious to see how my sound plays out here," he says, after admitting that his only previous experience in the Sunshine State was a Winter Music Conference gig and a few nights in Orlando.
As smoke billows out across the filling floor, Fleming cues up "Love in Traffic" to the delight of twin bald chicks in rhinestone-studded outfits. The kitchen is open for business and, despite the lastminute dressing changes, should be on track for its Beach run.
Before leaving the Shadow office, Fleming considers the future of club globetrotting: "I think it's a fantastic idea, but not that many are big enough to pull it off. I mean, Gods Kitchen is one, and I'm happy to represent them. Who knows, maybe this will start a trend, and then we can expect to see you guys coming over our way."