By Rebecca Bulnes
By Laurie Charles
By Chuck Strouse
By Lee Zimmerman
By Laurie Charles
By Falyn Freyman
By Hans Morgenstern
Puig believes the club has been targeted by prominent South Beach nightclubs envious of its runaway success. "There are hundreds of anonymous phone calls being made by jealous South Beach nightclub owners, staff, and employees to local enforcement agencies alleging illegal drug use at Space 34," he said. "We are being singled out and made an example of simply because we are the largest and most popular club in the nation." In fact, he said, one South Beach club held an impromptu celebration on the night of the DEA bust. "The night we got raided one nightclub on the Beach announced it over the microphone," he alleged, adding cryptically, "they also got raided that night." When asked to name the offending club, he said, "You are the reporter." Two of the nine clubs raided by the DEA that night -- including Gold Rush, which is directly across the street from Space 34 -- were in Miami-Dade; the rest were located in Broward and Palm Beach counties. None was in Miami Beach.
Though no one wants to name names -- indeed, several promoters contacted for this article would only speak off the record or declined to comment -- it is clear that Space's transformation from an after-hours spot for nightcrawlers into a superclub and anchor for downtown Miami's burgeoning nightlife scene was the cause of some consternation among South Beach promoters. Puig said he never had any interest in attracting "the European VIP crowd" that clogs Miami Beach nightlife. Clubs, he said, "are for dancing and not for people to sit on a couch showing off their Louis Vitton's [sic]."
There was no guest list last Saturday night, and anyone wanting to gain entrance into the "closing party" had to wait for several minutes until a handful of the venue's several hundred revelers had left the club. Inside it took nearly fifteen minutes to walk from one side of the main room to the other. There was a girl from West Palm Beach whose friend had taken her there for her birthday; and a raver who giggled happily, seemingly geeked out by the experience. There were more than a few partiers with dilated pupils bulging out of their skulls, telltale signs of an Ecstasy high.
But no one seemed particularly concerned that Space 34 was closing. Indeed most figured that it would reopen in a few weeks anyway, maybe under a new name or new management. As for Puig, what will he be doing now that the sale is imminent? "Get married and have kids," he said.