Most of the time, it seems like you need to be or at least look like a Very Important Person to get into hot clubs in the Magic City. Even joints that have no business pulling velvet rope snobbery (i.e. State and Butterfly Lounge) are shunning the "masses" in favor of glossy see-and-be-seensters. But the secret to getting inside from an outside perch is just a few clue-ins away. Know where the party's at, who's behind it, and what they're all about, and your chances of joining the limelight brigade triples, even if you're an average-looking, average-wage guy without many dating options.
Okay, that's a stretch. But the point is, those and other, more valuable insights will become increasingly available if Andrew Fox has his way. The CEO and co-founder of one of the Internet's most popular nightlife Websites, Clubplanet.com, aims to expand the brand in Miami and create an accessible forum for party people of both the intermittent and 24-hour variety. His target demographic is the oft-neglected "middle echelon of clubgoers," whom he hopes will benefit from the guest list access and special promotions Clubplanet is planning for this market.
Last week I took a field trip with Fox, a self-described outsider who started the New York-based Website in 1995 as a way to get himself and those like him into all the places that kept them out. I had expected the man behind a venture like Clubplanet to wear his nose pointed high toward the sky, but surprisingly, Fox was more of a cross between laid-back drinking buddy and busy bee power broker. His mission: reach out to the SoBe tastemakers. So he packed me into the back of his rented Range Rover along with A3-TV's Buster, the adorable gadfly Cubby, and marketing guru Renee Rosen.
First stop was at China Grill's new Wednesday-night dinner party hosted by Tommy Pooch, Ingrid Casares, and Alan Roth, where exotic performers paraded through the upscale restaurant to the beat of retro tunes. Pooch, who was playing air guitar to a Rolling Stones track, told me he was happy to be in the good graces of New Times since we usually "rip people a new asshole." Moments later, I had the pleasure of shaking the hand of the only woman I'm intimidated by, Casares, as Michele Pommier talent rep Ali Kavoussi pinched my nipples. It was a threesome I'd like to re-create someday.
As for the crew I ran with, they were much more mature and responsible than many would think. For one thing, party poster boy Buster didn't have a drink the entire night, and was the first to go home. It should be noted, however, that he didn't need anything other than sushi to be his usual animated self. Afterward it was on to the reinvigorated Wednesday-night party at B.E.D., where Rosen, a beautiful blonde with college-girl looks, was repeatedly carded, thanks to Miami Beach Police's recent crackdown on nightclubs and underage drinking.
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The next night at Cafeteria, I got caught in the midst of something rare and, dare I say, captivating. Unexpectedly, shop talk turned into a two-hour intellectual deliberation on topics such as the Middle East, the future of the American economy, musical evolution through the last quarter-century, and, of course, an obligatory discourse on karma. I couldn't believe my ears. Here were club people using their brains for something other than getting laid or making money (notice I still hold on to the notion that this breed does in fact have brains).
Carmel Ophir told me I was still giving them too much credit. "What do people involved in this industry typically talk about? 'Bro, I got fucked up last night,' or 'Did you see the fine chick I took home?'" the Back Door Bamby promoter said. "It's the times. People just don't care about things that they don't think will affect them. I thought that was going to change after 9/11, even in nightlife."
China Grill is located at 404 Washington Ave, Miami Beach. Call 305-534-2211. B.E.D. is located at 929 Washington Ave, Miami Beach. Call 305-532-9070. Cafeteria is located at 560 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach. Call 305-672-3663.