Ask the underground electronic dance music heads who frequent downtown Miami and Wynwood hot spots why they avoid South Beach nightlife, and they'll invariably say it's at least in part because of the VIP culture and the way bottle-service customers dictate musical programming at SoBe clubs.
The most controversial examples in recent memory are Dennis Ferrer and DJ Shadow getting booted off the decks at Mansion, allegedly after high-rolling VIP patrons complained to management that the music wasn't to their satisfaction — i.e., not commercial enough.
The bottom line is SoBe seems to cater mostly to the patrons who drop serious money to reserve tables and order bottle service. And this appears to buy them the right to select the music on behalf of the rest of the clubgoers. The very idea of a table at a dance club kills the dance-floor experience, which is the whole reason that true dance music enthusiasts pay the price of admission.
Do Not Sit on the Furniture, 423 16th St., Miami Beach; 305-450-3809.
Now, it takes balls and vision to fight this trend on its own turf. So leave it to two of Miami's seasoned underground nightlife badasses — internationally renowned DJ-producer Behrouz, and Will Renuart, resident DJ and co-owner of underground mecca the Electric Pickle — to do so. Their new joint venture, Do Not Sit on the Furniture (or Don't Sit for short) aims to turn the VIP sense of entitlement on its head and put the dance back into dance club.
"When I moved to Miami from San Francisco, I had a rough time adapting to clubs in Miami because most of them were supercommercially motivated and not about the music," Behrouz says.
"But I met Will, and he told me that he used to live in San Francisco, and I noticed he is totally into good music and good vibes, and we share a lot of common ideas. And above all, we are both big music lovers."
So it seemed almost inevitable that Behrouz and Renuart would go into business together. When they finally did, the project progressed quickly and naturally.
"Since both Will and I lived in San Francisco, I came up with an old name of an SF party, Do Not Sit on the Furniture, and thought, Let's use this name," the DJ explains. "Everything on South Beach is about tables and bottle service, and we both thought it's a cool name and fun concept to run with."
For the partners, it's a chance to do something different. "I have been in the music business for over 25 years," Behrouz says, "and I'm still traveling and playing all over the world. But I live in Miami, and I decided to contribute something good to the scene."
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Meanwhile, Renuart's commitment to championing the music above all other aspects of a nightclub has been evidenced by the Electric Pickle's stellar international DJ bookings and live music programming. And he is adamant about continuing that mission with the new SoBe venue.
"[Do Not Sit] is all about a studio analog sound system," Renuart insists. "It's a little, intimate room and not about big bookings. You never know who's going to be playing. The club is smaller than the Electric Pickle, and this will be more like a membership establishment, but not in a pretentious way. Membership is for people who are enthusiasts about the music."
"You are in our living room, in our house," Behrouz adds. "It's a house party made by DJs for DJs and music lovers. Our concept is about a small venue with a good sound system, proper DJ booth, and no bullshit.
"A DJ can come and play vinyl all night," he enthusiastically points out. "You get to see DJs perform unplugged. Our concept is just about people having fun and a cool atmosphere for people coming together to listen to good music."