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Revolver isJosh Menendez. Anyone who has partied, passed through, or passed out at the long-running Design District event has felt his presence. Sometimes you'll see him standing at the doorway to the Soho Lounge, talking with the club's staff. Other times he's cueing up songs in the DJ booth on the third floor, bouncing around, unable to contain himself as he flips through CDs picking out the next track; or dancing in the middle of the main room on the second floor.
Even on a night where Revolver draws more than 700 people (which happens often), Menendez is easy to spot in the crowd. Born in New York to Ecuadorian parents, he's usually wearing all black -- black shirt, black pants, black scarf wrapped around his shoulders -- and has a moptop haircut (much like the original moptops who recorded the album Revolverback in 1966) complementing ever-present spectacles resting on the bridge of his nose. More importantly, he's infectiously energetic, the happy-go-lucky life of a weekly party.
In spite of his boyish demeanor, Menendez is obviously running a business, and a successful one at that. How old is he? During a discussion at Andiamo he requests that his age not be printed. There are other qualities that he has in common with his South Beach club-owning brethren: He doesn't want to reveal how much Revolver grosses a week (it averages around 600 patrons on a good night, and usually gets seven dollars a head at the door). He balks at talking about his family, even if he brings up the sensitive subject himself. Tellingly, he believes that the media, and New Timesin particular, is too critical of the local entertainment industry, ignoring Miami's success stories in favor of exposés that tear down its stars.
No need to get paranoid, Josh: We're not trying to dig up dirt on you. Instead the occasion for this interview is to commemorate Revolver's third anniversary and current status as one of Miami's hippest, most popular events. Since debuting in 2000, the venerable Friday night bash has transformed from a mod night dominated by classic Kinks and Jam records into a rock and roll free-for-all that blends the Smiths, Le Tigre, and Hot Hot Heat into the soundscape. Much like I/O's Poplife night, the dominant aesthetic is indie pop, spun by resident DJs Menendez, Jimmy James, and Ryan. This is good if it means hearing an unreleased demo by some Chicago kid covering Outkast's "Hey Ya," bad if "Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes plays for the millionth time. Then there are the two side rooms on the ground floor. The mod room is channeled by MTA and Lolo (who throws her own party, the Eighties night Vice, on Saturdays). The orange room is ostensibly where Counterflow DJ Muet holds court, but is better known as a prime makeout spot where couples frolic on plush white couches, filling the air with the scents of lust and sex.
Yes, Revolver can get wild and loose; it's the one Design District party that copies its South Beach counterparts when it comes to overheated mating rituals. In contrast to SoBe's preening, posturing would-be glitterati (although, like all "scenes," Revolver has its own set of pretensions), Menendez feels that the people who go to his party freak out because they feel comfortable. This is true if Menendez is any indication: Kind and surprisingly affectionate, he is a man who embraces you instead of shaking your hand.
Menendez has been a fixture of Miami's nightlife since he was a DJ at the Hungry Sailor in Coconut Grove. "Back in 1996 there were no indie nights," he says. "There was only Gothic nights." The club gave him Monday nights to throw his own party, so he started Blowup, a modern rock party. But after a couple of years he canceled it to make way for Revolver, which began at the now-defunct 1800 Club and spent three months at Two Last Shoes (now called Slak Lounge) before reaching the Soho Lounge last year. "I feel, like, when time passes and things evolve you need change, you need an overhaul," he says. "Something new, something fresh." But not to worry: Revolver is a long way away from its expiration date.