"Space," Oscar G insists, "was all I ever wanted."
No doubt, during his decades in the dance music game, the 305 house legend has achieved far more significant things (like, say, 12 top-ten hits in 17 years with Ralph Falcón on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Songs chart) than a residency at a downtown Miami club, even a place as pivotal and influential as Space Miami.
But as a pre-teen disc jockey, spinning block parties and quinces in the '80s, little Oscar Gaetan fantasized endlessly about being the big dude in the booth.
"For me," he says, "that was the ultimate thing you could do as a DJ -- be the resident at the best club in town."
Of course, in those days, America wasn't dance-music obsessed, Miami wasn't an international party playground, and the guys who played music at clubs weren't megacelebrities.
"Coming up as a kid," Oscar remembers, "the DJ thing was nowhere near what it is today. Now, there are DJs who are multimillionaires, zipping around in private jets and eating fancy fucking food.
"But back then, my dream was to be just like one of my biggest influences, Ciro Llerena, a big DJ in the '80s. He used to play at Casanova's in Hialeah, and the place was just a landmark for freestyle music. I wanted to be like him."
In the '90s, though, Oscar's life completely changed. He and Ralph scored hit after hit, from "Fired Up" to "The Way" to "Body." They gigged in Europe, Asia, Australia.
"So yeah, by the time Space came around in 2000, everything was different," Oscar admits. "I had been touring all over the world and had all these big records. But still, scoring that residency just meant a whole lot to me."
"It's funny, though, to look back now," he adds, "because people obviously consider Space to have been such a big part of my career. But when I first started the residency, it was a really huge risk for me, both artistically and financially, because I had to stop touring all the time.
"And, like," the DJ laughs, "anyone who knows Louis [Puig], who owned Space [the club is now owned by Opium Group partners Roman Jones and Justin Levine, and a group of investors], he's never gonna throw money out the window. So he wasn't exactly paying me a fortune to be there.
"But I just knew. It was such an opportunity to do something at home. And there had never been a club like Space in town at that point. So I jumped on it."
A decade later and Oscar G is still the quintessential Space resident, dropping in whenever he doesn't have a gig in San Francisco, Chicago, NYC, or some other club-circuit city.
"It's been like a marriage," he jokes. "There have been some ups and some downs and some complicated times. But I've always tried to maintain my spot at Space.
"And it been worth it, because Space was definitely the beginning of all these huge, nationally significant clubs in Miami," the DJ acknowledges. "And I don't think it has ever truly been duplicated. There are some unique aspects of the club that can't be reproduced.
"Like the hours of operation," Oscar snickers, referring to the club's notorious reputation for spilling afterhours partiers onto the sidewalks at dawn.
"And you know, ultimately," he says, getting serious again, "Space is a real music club. It's about the music. That's why we all go to Space. The music."
Oscar G's Open-to-Close Birthday Marathon. Saturday, November 9. Space, 34 NE 11th St., Miami. The show starts at 11 p.m. and tickets cost $20 to $30 plus fees via wantickets.com. Ages 21 and over. Call 305-375-0001 or visit clubspace.com.