By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
The invitation to Select magazine's launch party the other week read: "Pronouncements of the end of Miami Beach are nothing new." Not greatly exaggerated, mind you, just not new.
Hoping this is just the first of all the season's parties, hoteliers Eric Gabriel and Caroline Carrara (Aqua and Hotel Leon) are in attendance along with every other Miami Beach booster. While Blink Management stages a test photo shoot for this season's star model hopefuls, DJ Aramis Lorie of Poplife fame mixes Digable Planets' "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)" into his branded electro pop. Cocktails in hand, the fabulous look on and seem confident that Miami will be reborn too.
Let's hope so. All through the past two slow, sad years, the only real buzz on the Beach has been the planning and handling of Memorial Day Weekend crowds. Whoopee. A lot of sound and fury spent figuring out a politically correct way to market the city to a more "diverse" demographic. Jorge Gonzalez, Steve Polisar, and every other official and merchant in Miami Beach have been head-scratching trying to figure out how to put a positive spin on their desire to attract more than just the thuggish hordes to our shores.
Hell yeah, we should "diversify" -- on Memorial Day and every other day.
But it's bigger than hip-hop, people.
It isn't just about race, either.
Parties don't mix the way they used to. Isolated sects have formed, rarely overlapping to create the wild energy of days gone by. There is the gay scene, the art scene, the model scene, the Euro scene, the hip-hop scene, the dying music scene, but mostly mostly mostly there is the tourist scene. Miami has become Cancun has become Ybor City has become Disney.
The rhythm of the Miami Party Machinejust isn't gonna getcha anymore. The only remaining signs of life are the scruffy scenes of the Design District and Wynwood. Otherwise we can all hold our breath until the Performing Arts Center opens and revives downtown. Are you turning blue yet?
It was clear that we were in trouble as early as the turn of the millennium. The second coming of cool everyone expected fizzled like a dud firecracker. Make that a sparkler. Last year any hopes of a profitable winter died with 9/11. Since then the American people have supposedly grown "more conscious and less selfish." Well, selfishness and near-subconsciousness are what Miami Beach is all about! Geesh. Cut a city some slack, will ya?
The sad reality is that Miami's vices have gotten the best of it. After all, once Will Smith makes a song about your city, you're almost assured to not register on the cool radar. Everyday like a Mardi Gras/Everybody party all day/No work/All play, okay? Hipster apocalypse.
Everywhere you turn nowadays people are talking about the "old days." Charity Chacon of Nikki Beach says that what South Beach needs is some of that "ol' school flava," some of that Fat Black Pussycat. Instead of top-shelf bottle service, Charity suggests a dose (or should we say a drag) of Shelley Novak serving up chicken wings and 40-ounce Old English. Malt liquor instead of Ketel One? Hmmm.
Fortunately for everyone, the scene is coming back down home since DJ/promoter Mark Leventhal has resurfaced after a year underground. A force behind the Tuesday-night Home Cookin' parties at the defunct GrooveJet, Leventhal is all about Tuesdays again, now at Automatic Slim's. No longer the Beach's best-kept secret, Slim's Tuesday-night Double Wide party is out of control.
Are those Rudolf Pieper's "witches" over there? A good omen. An indication that things are definitely brewing. Club kid Danny sits demurely with legs crossed in one of his patented shiny Vegas-style shirts while Tanya bumps and gyrates around the pole installed at the rear of the club.
A chirpy ale chugger shouts, "Mark, you still the motherfucka!"
"Don't call it a comeback," as LL Cool J would say.
In the meantime, Home Cookin' is back (sans Leventhal) at the ol' GrooveJet space -- now Rain -- another sign that happy days are here again. DJ Tom La Rock is spinning and mixing Herbie Hancock's "Rockit" with Newcleus's "Jam On It" while a gathering of multiculti folk boogie down. Local boy Lincoln O'Barry (formerly of Beach Radio) is back from his stint in LA LA land.
Hey, is that someone doing the whop?
No, she did not just bust into the cabbage patch!
Girl, yes she did, and being from the ol' school, Clubbed certainly agrees.
The new Home Cookin' party feels just as filling as it used to. After a dreadful summer at Rain (more like Drought during those dog days), the snowbirds are coming home to roost. The skaters, models, and athletes are back. That's a party mix potent enough to solicit a smile from even the most die-hard party pessimist -- and that's despite a host of tourists. "Can you feel it?"
Even the more precious air at Opium/Prive on a Friday is feeling fresh. After a baby-making hiatus, Ingrid Casares is back on the scene (and soon to be immortalized as a mob moll on the silver screen). Prive/Opium/Rumi owner Roman Jones is out front sporting the new style -- designer suit and sneakers -- while chatting up his buddies and kissing babies. The beautiful are all out and about. Sipping martinis. Ordering bottles. Dancing on the tables. Just fab you lust!
Outside there's even more reason for hope. Maybe it's the influx of supermodels -- and we don't mean the comp-card wannabes. A recent sighting of Tyson Beckford coasting Washington Avenue on a beach cruiser could be an indication that this never-ending gauche Groundhog Day may be nearing an end.
Then there's Jack Donahue and a young Asian friend riding off into the night after standing outside the forgotten end of South Beach, the old Bash territory on Washington between Fifth and Seventh streets.
And Tyrese (in town for the filming of Fast and the Furious 2) and company have been out having a wee-hours bite at Jerry's World Famous (and otherworldly priced) Deli! Hallelujah!
We can officially begin the name game.Watching another season of excitement unfold is like listening to your parents wrap presents downstairs around Christmas time. Hard to contain yourself, isn't it?