The celebrity action dies down and the punch suddenly goes out of the city. In the vacuum, the void of noncelebness, even the weather somehow changes: it actually feels hot again, sticky and unpleasant, an unfit atmosphere for any self-respecting famous person. And in the meantime, there's only culture, and maybe a little anonymous fun, to take the sting out of relatively normal life.
Off to a high-toned start with the 25th anniversary gala concert of the Prestige Series, the Ultimate Quartet playing the Dade County Auditorium, saluting impresaria Judy Drucker afterward at the Grand Bay Hotel. The ballroom stuffed with several hundred culturati: Roberta Peters, I. Stanley Levine, Gilbert Kahn, et cetera. La Drucker - the ultimate survivor/trouper/one tough lady - basking in her element. The wondrous Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre at TOPA, a collection of the most beautiful people imaginable, even before they move. A week of great dancing, capped off with a benefit cast party last Saturday night at the Doral, featuring the Metropolitan Opera star Jessye Norman. And upcoming March 28, an interesting mix: Gloria Estefan, the New World Symphony, the Miami Arena, a benefit dinner afterward at the Omni. Big deal production values.
High concept, easy-to-digest culture, sort of like nightlife. The one-nighter, "delusion," at Club Lusions in South Dade, a name that kind of sums up the gestalt of going out. Alternative dancing and everything else at 5th Street, and at Squeeze in Fort Lauderdale. Retro Wave Night at the Reunion Room in Fort Lauderdale. A drag ball at The World in South Miami. The preview party for Paragon, set for this Friday. Avenue A at The Institute. Dealer Robert Miller at the Solar Cafe. "Le Trick," the new Tuesday-only gay night at Egoiste. "Passe," the new Sunday-night Eighties alternative-music party at The Spot, an intriguing counterpoint to Disco Inferno, the heavily Seventies alternative across the street at the Cameo. The usual Gary James crowd, young, good-looking, casual but totally, completely, there. As uniformly decorative as Fifties starlets. There must be a corral someplace where they're all rounded up and shuffled off to various venues for casting calls. Artist Julian Schnabel and model Christy Turlington - mixed metaphors straight out of the fame corral - having dinner together at the Strand.
The new "Energy" at the Cameo on Saturdays, with just about every known entertainment element: live acts, international DJs, "30K Turbo Sound System...computer controlled 7-Color Argon Laser System...bass in your face." Opening night was insult-to-the system time: all-too-energetic 23-year-old style victims, hormone-controlled gonads, an unholy thundering like some kind of retribution from the gods. Kind of fun, actually, and according to co-host Joe Delaney, just the thing. "What I want to do is get all the hard-core kids we used to have at Industry - I'm from that kind of background myself in Liverpool - and get that same energy going. This time around, though, it's 21 and over. Hopefully, we won't have all the fighting you get with the younger crowd."
A preview party for Van Dome that same night, 400 of the owner's closest friends, the prelude to the very grand opening festivities coordinated by Louis Canales last weekend. The club looking very tasty indeed: wood paneling, murals, a coffee and liqueur lounge, overstuffed chairs, a stained-glass dome over the dance floor, antiques juxtaposed with modern elements. Post Nell's, Sempers with dancing. Sympathetic lighting and a nonconfrontational sound system. A harpist and flutist for atmosphere. An aquarium strategically placed at primping level between the men's and women's bathrooms, conversation continuing apace: "This is like the 1992 version of The Dating Game.... Check out the blonde - is that an evil creature or what?.... Myrna, look at me. My hair's on top of my head. How could you let me walk around looking like this?"
A crowd composed of the sort of people - cellular phones, tight black dresses, sculpted hair - who used to have to linger over an extra cappuccino at Mezzanotte before calling it an early night. Now all dressed up with someplace to go. Suzi Stettner, in drop-dead white on white. The very professional co-owner Michael Krieger, part of the fun young developer set, a happy camper: "Well, I told you I'd build a club." Two bald podiatrist types having a heated New Age man argument: "Don't start with me about Donna.... I just didn't feel like you respected my feelings, Harvey...." An entertaining old Beach guy with some juicy dirt about the early, even-more-scrambling days of wheeler-dealer and former China Club owner Nelson Fox. A fine evening and a real live nice club, the sort of place that puts people on their best behavior. Just what the Beach needs.
The third anniversary of the "Island of Lost Souls" party, last Monday at the Island Club. The same old shroud on the wall, documenting how the party began: Rolling Stones guitarist Ron Wood purging the "Woodites" from the old Woody's. The "Lost Souls" eventually winding up working at the Island Club. Mondays becoming the "Lost Souls" party when Australian bar manager Richard Duncan, who needed airfare to fly back home, was given a share of the proceeds. Duncan and the Woodites scattering, "Lost Souls" gradually acquiring a cult following on South Beach. An inevitable popularity among people outside the trendy loop, collegiate types, the B crowd, the odd famous person in town looking for a lark: Kevin Costner,O.J. Simpson, Madonna. Fabulousness, fame, being in with the in crowd, it's all a bit much to one insider: "All this stuff about the so-called fabulous people, the `committee of one hundred' on the Beach, is just ridiculous. We were all just the geeks and nerds of high school, and we fit in even less now. And forget about sex. That's just out of the equation for all of us."
Late nights, here, there, and everywhere, all basic human values out of the equation. A former Manhattan nightclub legend at Warsaw, drunk, rhapsodizing about taking the cure in Miami: "After all the craziness of New York, this is nothing." An intensely average middle-age man casually mentioning that he'd been at a circa 1972-style house party the night before with acid-spiked punch, the craze really hitting every strata of society. Champagne and Chayanne videos at 2:00 a.m., taken in an epicene high-rise apartment equipped with robotic help and a white formica confessional. The week falling apart from there. A major hair type, at some club or another, running across the room screaming, "Pepe, you're hurting me, you animal," as someone points out, rightly enough, that South Beach isn't merely "airheads who just drink and think about being fabulous." Our whole life and most of our concerns, summed up in one neat phrase. Really, how perfectly South Beach.
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