South Beach should be worried -- very worried. As the years pass, the area is becoming more homogeneous, with little difference from venue to venue. Opium Group keeps gobbling up every property that goes up for sale with the same focus on bottle service and VIP experience. Not that there is anything wrong with that but not everyone is looking for that kind of night.
Meanwhile, over the causeway the Wynwood and downtown scenes are proving you don't need D-list celebrities and French doormen to find success. White Room, Vagabond and Electric Pickle usually have long lines on any given night, while newcomer Bardot has to turn people away in order stay within fire code.
But it's the newest crop of venues that has us feeling that the area is finally coming into its own. First up is Cafeina Wynwood Lounge (297 NW 23rd Street, Miami), located on the fringes of Wynwood. The gorgeously decorated lounge-meets-art-gallery could rival any South Beach establishment. With its indoor and outdoor spaces it reminds us a bit of Karu & Y, except the latter was a monstrosity of a venue that couldn't pull in enough bodies. Cafeina on the other hand is modest in size,
but big enough that the amount of bathrooms -- two private bathrooms, one for each gender -- is criminally inappropriate. Actually, I've been told Cafeina has additional bathrooms that are accessible through the garden.
Further south on 14th Street, Bar (28 NE 14 Street, Miami) has taken over the old PS14/Max Fish space. Bathroom real estate has never been the space's forte as well, but if you frequented the space during its old incarnation you probably already knew that.
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Instead, the venue has vastly improved on PS14's ghastly decor. Gone is the rundown and deary look replaced by murals done by local artist Freegums. The exciting thing about Bar is that every two months a new local artist will come in and revamp the space, which ought to keep the place buzzing.
The lazily named venue is brought to you by Aaron Bondaroff and Al Moran, the same duo responsible for Allapattah gallery O.H.W.O.W. Actually, we give them some credit, the actual name of the venue isn't so much "Bar" per se as it is a black rectangular shape -- but we guess "black rectangular shape" isn't such a great name either.
If you need more incentive to check the space out, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone returns to Miami January 22 to play at the venue, which is hardly a block away from Ice Palace, where he performed previously for NADA Art Fair's opening party in 2008.