The holiday season, the entire populace reduced to a state of low-grade manic depression, the general mood randomly veering between a positively Russian bleakness and giddy elation. Eating too much, drinking too much, the yearly dance before the apocalypse of New Year's Eve and the prospect of yet another crummy year of resolutions and half-baked stabs at self-improvement. The social calendar insanely frenetic but somehow unfulfilling. At warp speed, the nuances begin to blur.
Clubs, the nether world with a definite nuance shortage, ever ready to embrace all the drink-and-fun-starved manic-makers. Ocean Club opening up in the old Gold Club/Luke's space on Fifth Street, owned by a nationwide chain, Entertainment Concepts of America, operating clubs in cities from Dallas to Baton Rouge. The Dallas contingent out in force, a cross between Rush, Urban Cowboy, and ZZ Top: black suits, bolo ties, and snakeskin boots for the men, the women all big blond hair and bombshell outfits, tight jeans tucked into white leatherette boots. A long way from the days when Luke held court in his very own mirrored pussy palace, accompanied by the steady thump of Miami's particularly nasty indigenous art form, Bass music, stuff along the order of: "Me and the posse let the ho' in the limo, did her big fat ass, den we threw her out the do'."
Now, it's all pumped-up ubiquitous dance music, an aquatic theme running throughout the two-story space, very Seventies-something. Aqua-colored accents, an alabaster mermaid lolling around on a clamshell, an enormous mural with Vargas-like sea creatures and an idealized golden boy, fondling a moray eel in a provocative position. Manager Nick Nemeth looking forward to being part of the local club community: "Dallas is a pretty fickle market, with only two or three hot clubs that keep changing. There seems to be more room and money here."
The hinterlands market also growing considerably with the advent of Cafe Iguana, which opens to the non-VIP crowd tonight, December 30. Partner Joe Delaney, in conjunction with Shannon Miller of The Safari Club in Boca Raton, David "Lags" of Hooters, and Mark Vasa of Confetti's, converting the twelve-and-a-half-thousand-square-foot Johnny's All Star Sports Bar into a new mega- club/restaurant: "It's right at the Town & Country Centre mall; instead of the 40-minute drive over here, they can go someplace close. We've got a Key West theme, with tin roofs over the bars, lots of trees, and casual Caribbean food. Kendall is really an untapped market."
The Beach, meanwhile, tapped but still highly agitated. I Paparazzi de Notte debuting with a Monday night party behind the I Paparazzi Ristorante on Ocean Drive, the club taking over a back courtyard and an upstairs room. The natural progression of the restaurant/club rage, restaurants turning into impromptu clubs after midnight, with the pleasure-sucking atmosphere of clubs uncannily like the holiday season, the compulsion to have a good time virtually guaranteeing misery. De Notte a wholly separate facility, designed by Robert Valas, very pretty and warm, a fountain in the garden lending a little tone. Big fun.
From there, sliding into the cultural/charitable beat. An opening for The Broadway Collection, the theater memorabilia store on Lincoln Road. A benefit for the Miami Youth Museum at Prezzo's in The Falls, Dennis Max's new restaurant. Sazingg Jewelers in Coral Gables staging a fundraiser for Metrozoo. Philippe de Montebello, director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, turning up at a brunch for the "Corot to Cezanne" show at the Museum of Art in Fort Lauderdale, sponsored by Alamo Rent A Car. Janjo's restaurant in the Grove hosting a New Year's Eve party on Commodore Plaza, featuring a Brazilian samba troupe. Twyla Tharp and Mikhail Baryshnikov appearing at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on New Year's Eve and at TOPA January 2 for an AIDS benefit. Keith Carradine in "The Will Rogers Follies," again at TOPA, with a party afterward at Stephen Talkhouse, the show moving to Broward on January 9. And best of all, "An Evening with Celia & Friends" at the James L. Knight Center, chaired by Kevin Kirby of Warsaw and benefiting Health Crisis Network and Share Your Gift.
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The evening more of a weekend, really, with a party at Larios on the Beach the day before, featuring guest appearances by Celia Cruz, Mexican singer Angela Carrasco, and Gloria Estefan. The concert itself, designed to promote awareness of AIDS in the Hispanic community, not exactly jammed with its target audience. Latins doing a deny on the AIDS crisis, or maybe just the press of high holiday events interfering with attendance. An interesting evening regardless, cafe seating up front, and a parade of stars, from Olga Guillot to Ismael Miranda. Richard Perez-Feria, co-host of the WMBM-AM 1490 radio talk show "Beach Party with Tara & Richard," guiding us through the Latin labyrinth. Celi Bee, a platinum-haired glamour gal, looking very strange against the AIDS-quilt stage backdrop, full of rather moving inscriptions: "Gregory Resa, director, brother, actor, son. 1959-1987.... Empty chairs at empty tables..." Angela Carrasco, carrying out the Spanish cruise ship theme in a Gloria Estefan circa '82, ruffled orange dress, commenting on the fame/fan dichotomy: "We're all friends, but you're there and I'm over here." Tongolele, a 62-year-old pro of the I-still-got-it-baby school in belly dancer attire, doing a Tahitian-inspired dance routine with major hip action.
And then Saint Celia herself, in a shimmery silver dress and a gravity-defying blond wig, playfully teasing fellow female legend Charytin. "If I look great, he looks better." The audience pouring out of the balconies to dance in the aisles, like faithful supplicants answering the call of an evangelist, Cruz spiraling off into pure scatting, "Celia, Celia, Celia...cuidado que te pica."
Bitten, smitten, plowing back into clubs, awash in the one-nighter syndrome. "Girls in the Night" presenting an exhibition of the female anatomy at Atmospheres on Lincoln Road. "Filet of Soul," a new members-only night at The Music Room. Paragon doing a new straight night, debuting January 15. The Avenue A production of "Bliss at Hell," hand-painted topless models, co-host Michael Capponi on the turntables outside, playing vintage songs from the Doors and Led Zeppelin. Taking in the passing parade with old friends Alan Treister and Jim Hodes, mourning the glory days of the Seventies, Treister crashing into the Nineties with two models refusing to pose for a photo with him: "Yeah, but, who's Alan?" The women finally relenting when we somehow passed him off as Thomas Kramer's comptroller.
That whole Hell/Heaven/Christmas party thing, winding down with some rather thoughtful bedtime reading materials. A "Queer Beach Coalition" anti-Kramer flyer adorned with a sad angel ("Get the hell off the Beach...") vying with a classic Miami Beach-style greeting from our friends at Avenue A: "Believing in neither heaven or hell, means time now is most precious. Hell makes Bliss. May you all be blessed with joy and inundated happiness in this holiday season.