It happens to all of us at one time or another. An overwhelming feeling comes over us that suggests we are living inside elaborate theatrical productions that we mistake for being real life. Granted, everything about our nighttime rites of passage seems more dreamlike when caught up in high-speed alcohol quaffing, but there are those specific identifiable moments that lead to the suspicion that our lives are being played on an endless loop over which we have no control. And tonight is one of those moments.
A party at Joia and Pure Lounge for Ocean Drive magazine brings out the familiar characters in the pristine town of Seahaven. For this episode in your life, the standard household faces that are ever-present in our nightly vignettes are strewn throughout the newly redone hotel suite. Product placement by way of Absolut vodka is scripted to subliminally permeate the minds of the viewing public. All of this has gone unnoticed by you in the past, as you had no idea that these collective moments that you have mistaken for your life are not real at all. It is part of a well-orchestrated show for the world to view. The right fusion of cocktails and free hors d'oeuvres help make your life as the Truman Burbank of the nightlife world's Truman Show seem so perfect.
Moments after arriving a familiar anxiety sneaks into you. Right on cue Michele Addison, senior account executive for Ocean Drive magazine, comes over to offer you comfort. A glass of Merlot, your liquid sedative of choice for the week and a remedy that hits faster than a Xanax, temporarily eases you.
150 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach
Call for reservations, 305-674-8871. Pure Lounge holds special events upstairs; 786-276-9005.
With glass in hand, Addison whips you around the room, introducing you to people faster than you can catch the syllables in their first names. The second names are of no importance, as you will only greet them with a smile the next time you see them. Memory spans are shorter than courtesy.
Waltzing about Pure Lounge on the schmooze circuit is a perfectly choreographed dance and your Meryl Burbank is doing her best to keep you distracted from your feelings of disquiet. "Are you bored already?" she asks. Not yet, you reply, but it is only a matter of time. Wine will dull the senses until that moment is either upon you or passing by without notice.
Your social sprint pauses long enough for you to gather your senses. It's Lincoln O'Barry (DJ at the National Hotel's revamped Magic Garden party on Friday nights).
"You should come by this Friday and listen to me play some of my scratched records," he offers. A fair enough invite that promises to offer some reprieve from the dulling barrage of screaming hip-hop beats and "keeping it real" attitudes. Suddenly you are struck with an overpowering desire to say to O'Barry, "Don't you ever get restless? Itchy feet?" You mumble over the music that you have been thinking about going to Fiji. Luckily he can't hear you.
While looking around you can't help but remember when your life revolved around this building. Downstairs Joia was as busy then as it is now. You have flashbacks of all the nights staggering through the lobby of the hotel next door, slurring on about needing a room. As though your thoughts are being read, owner Gus Renny comes by and offers a reminiscence of his own.
"I remember living here," Renny jokes. "We bought the place and now I'm right back here again." Renny is a proud new father, having recently purchased Joia from Mynt owner Nicola Siervo, but your mind is in other places.
Just then Meryl, um, Michele appears with former "Queen of the Night" columnist Tara Solomon. Tara introduces herself and the gentleman she is with, Nick D'Annunzio, her happy fiancé and business partner in her publicity firm Tara Ink, but because of the thumping house music playing overhead the conversation is largely inaudible. Anxiety begins to set in again; in response you restlessly sway to the music.
A capacity crowd of nightlife voyeurs begins to gather. The standard cast of extras -- surgically enhanced and deep-tanned women, fat-pocketed businessmen, tall and lumbering models, and the local hipsters -- act in this choreographed scene. There's even Michelle McKinnon, co-owner of Jazid, and her entourage of beautiful, young party girls. The beat plays on like it always does.
The music rises to a fever pitch as saline balloons bounce to the rhythm of the mix. And at that moment you realize that this has to be scripted. An epiphany? If this whole thing isn't staged, then why are we here replaying these scenes night after night?
Suddenly an overheard non sequitur frees you from your recurring feelings of anxiety. "I heard that fish have a memory span of three seconds." (Hard to imagine the conversation that led up to that dialogue.) You snap back into your own safe world of people-watching while waiting for someone to burst onto the set and announce that this is fake. With over two million people living in this tropical metropolis you somehow only manage to see the same one or two hundred during your dealings, an elite circle of social Joneses that the rest of the world is trying desperately to keep up with.
Later at some nameless bar on Collins Avenue you move on to harder sedatives. This time it's Scotch on the rocks. The bartender, whose name is Marlon, tells you that everything is okay. What you are feeling is perfectly normal. Just a momentary lapse in reason. Inside this dingy, damp place there is the feeling that you have temporarily escaped your anxiety.
Marlon's thick Latin accent is comforting. He offers that stress and lack of sleep often bring on these wacky hallucinations. That feeling that everyone is somehow connected to your life is a heavy burden, a lot for one person to deal with. It may just be wishful thinking, a wish that you'd made more out of yourself than just a nightclub fixture. Who hasn't sat around and had an imaginary interview on Deco Drive? Who hasn't wanted to be somebody?
From the designer suits to the foods that we eat, temporal feelings of happiness bought with designer drugs and even the friendships that we establish all have a price tag. It is a world where truth is stranger than fiction. But we accept the reality of a world where we only live life between nightfall and sunrise, spending it at openings and anniversary celebrations. It's neither good nor bad. It simply is.
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Once again you've reached that impious hour of limbo. Last call was an hour ago, but Marlon, sensing you need a tension reliever in a glass, obliges his old friend. Another long night has slipped from your grasp and gestured toward a new day.
These dreamlike evenings where you aren't able to differentiate reality from drunkenness happen to all of us at one time or another. With nothing left to say you bid Marlon farewell. Until next time.
"You gonna be able to make it home?" he asks. "Should I get you a cab?" But you will be fine. Another night under the belt. Nothing left to say but: "In case I don't see ya, good morning, good afternoon, and good night." Fade to commercial.