When Miami superclub Space first took to representing its sound on CD, it delivered a trance-heavy salvo by DJ Edgar V. called Trancemissions. Since that release the club has undergone major renovations, and its latest release, The House Sessions (Bliss Records), still includes the progressive trance sound, this time courtesy of Oscar G., but combines it with the more lighthearted, groovier style of long-time terrace resident Ivano Bellini.
"It was definitely planned to balance the darker side of Oscar's set with mine," Bellini says from the new offices of his record company SFP on Lincoln Road, hours before the CD-release party at Space. With new equipment being moved in for his in-house studio, the Lausanne, Switzerland, native eases back in his chair and deconstructs The House Sessions framework.
"On a Saturday night you have Oscar playing inside, and it's very dark and loud, while simultaneously I'm playing outside, where it's open-air and in the morning with the sunlight, so you have these two very different vibes going on. Our goal, and I think we accomplished it, was to capture as best we could what a typical night feels like."
From the muggy Saturday evenings to the blistering dawn of Sunday mornings, Space becomes a sanctuary for club aficionados, now recognized the world over, for better or worse, as the closest thing to Ibiza outside Ibiza.
"I remember the first time Danny Tenaglia first came out on the patio, and he says to me: This is just like Ibiza.' And it's true. Nowhere else can you find this mix of European and South American and American crowds and cultures than in Miami. It's what makes this city special and what also makes Space so unique."
Granted the crowds are diverse, but even after Bellini was pegged by co-owner Luis Puig to open the club more than a year ago, the DJ was not convinced it was quite his bag.
"I did the opening night, but it was not what I expected," he says. "I was inside and it just didn't feel right for me. Later Louis came up and asked if I'd be interested in doing an after-hours on the patio. I was skeptical at first but decided to try it once to see how it would go. Well it went so great that I decided to do it every week."
Having been onboard from the start, Bellini was an obvious choice to co-spin the House Sessions release. His eclectic, neoclassic style effectively complements the subterranean vibe with which Oscar punctuates the first side.
Oscar G., the DJ responsible for revving up the main floor, leaves little room for air on his opening set. From the spoken-word junkie sermon on G-Pal's "Warning" to the mechanized ethereal state created on Mass Effect's "Alpha Scan," the vibe is a moody take on the id and its revelations. Suffocating the listener beneath his sonic blanket (primitive drums and siren wails), Oscar chooses to see the spooky world tribal beats can create and steers a clever path through this jungle with a curt nod toward convention. It's at times hypnotic but still dance-friendly despite the overt call for a Blade Runner-like environment as the ominous voice bellows throughout: "I'm praying for children of house and all freaks."
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But where Oscar is shadow, Bellini is light, balancing the unknown with tracks that are both organic (Nirox's "Drumming Voice") and jet-set catty (Miss Kitten & the Hackers' hilarious "Frank Sinatra"). Though he claims to have no ill will toward huge venues and the appetites of the masses, it's obvious from his demeanor that Bellini is more at home when able to improvise among intimate friends in loungelike atmospheres.
"I think on the terrace, with more regulars perhaps than the main floor, I can be a bit more experimental and play things you probably won't here anywhere but a lounge," he explains. "We have people who come religiously, so it's a little easier than playing for mostly tourists, who might be turned off by things they are not expecting."
Just as Bellini wasn't expecting to survive long at Space, many weren't expecting Space to survive at all on the mainland. But, having been able to secure a fanatical loyal following with enough curious tourists willing to take a causeway over, Space has persevered and is now helping to pave the way for Miami's electronic future with yet another CD to seduce even more followers.
"Whether it's the Blue Room or the terrace, this club is all about the music," Bellini says when asked what has made Space so successful. "Other clubs may be built and then it's decided where the DJ booth will go and how to make it sound okay. But here everything was done with the DJ in mind, from the equipment to who is brought in to play. They led by example and the people have followed the vibe."