S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y...night! It's Saturday night, oh Saturday night.... Great bunch of kids, those Bay City Rollers, but that was Seventies/Eighties fun, as dated as the Beach Boys catching the perfect curl. Now it's songs for the new recession, the squeeze of the fin de siecle, just not nice at all.
Like a South Beach Saturday night, the moon luminously beautiful, the breeze fragrant, possibility and sex floating in the air like pollen. It's one big expanded version of that Miami Beach scene in Notorious, when Ingrid Bergman dances a mad, dangerous mambo by herself at some ugly little after-hours bash, some place where it's always 5:00 a.m.-of-the-soul time, where everyone's always had too much to drink, where the evening could turn ugly at any moment. But Miss Bergman, or for that matter, Alfred Hitchcock himself, could not have envisioned the cast of Miami Beach, 1992: bikers; wig heads; Jon Jon (I-want-to-be-a-serial-killer-because-it's-so-fashionable) Bubblegum; Ecstasy the drug, not the movie; the It twins in retreat; celebutantes and psychotic fans.
It's a journey into the heart of the rather nasty modern world. First stop, Espanola Way, crawling with what someone called "really real disgustorama bikers." The occasion: the Wings of Steel first anniversary party, held in conjunction with the official grand opening of The Spot. Gary James of The Spot and Ismael Santiago of Wings looking valid. The bikers, a mixed bunch who weren't particularly disgusting or even really real, rebelling against whatever you got and thumbing through Biker's Exchange magazine: "We used to wear the German swastikas and helmets as a sort of protest. But I, like most bikers, am very patriotic."
Inside The Spot, the South Beach regulars, a slightly more epicene crowd, together once again for decorator Randal Underwood's birthday party. Obeying, for once, the dictates of Lord Chesterfield ("Make an impression, and then, for God's sakes, leave"). We managed to tear ourselves away for a walking tour of Hell Town. A stroll past the 1235/Decos/ Passion space, which will be transformed into a new gay club called Paragon, opening sometime in March. According to former Club Z/Paris Moderne/Sound Factory veteran Wendy Doherty, Paragon, which is owned by Patrick Reilly and Dennis Doheny, won't be just another pleasure dome: "It'll be the initial splendor of the space with a twist for the Nineties. A dance club on Fridays and Saturdays, with concerts during the week."
The once thriving Bolero/Match closed up, reportedly reopening as a showcase room with a Variety magazine motif. Paris Moderne on its way to being somewhat viable again, this time as Paris Underground. According to owner Leroy Griffith (who's also working on turning his Gayety Theatre into a mega male and female strip club called Miami Beach Gold and the Gold Bar), Paris Underground will have its share of grand scale Facade-ish elements: "It'll be a concert hall and a disco; we're also going to build a second dance floor. There'll be seating for 1200 people; 25,000 square feet. We're going to open it up."
The Butter Club, no door attitude at all. Bruce Braxton, formerly of the very downtown Junkyard, now serving as promoter/bar manager/etc. Back up to The Whiskey, packed with former Le Loftians, actor Matt Dillon hanging out. Another mega-disco in the old Community Synagogue space on Washington Avenue, straight, opening sometime in February. No name as yet, but a beautiful 8000-square-foot open room: a stained-glass dome over the dance floor, antique lamp posts from Central Park, a small cafe. According to co-owner Michael Krieger, it's new era, new Beach: "There's no nice club around here where you can just go after dinner and get treated decently. Private rooms were the Seventies; this is more intimate. In the Nineties, people want to be seen and they want to see everybody else. It'll be fun to see how the Beach responds to it."
Warsaw, of course, the standard Saturday night walk-through and the usual responses. Somebody talking about the new gay club in the Grove, 3131, taking over the space occupied by sacred hetero bastion the Village Inn. (A video bar and dance club, 3131 will open February 5.) Tara Darling tasting the dark side of fame, like the movie queen in Valley of the Dolls, a deranged fan grabbing her necklace (not the wig, thank goodness) and being generally unpleasant. That's no way to treat a star.
Twinge of vomit time, a good opportunity to ponder the horror of modern life over a quiet 2:00 a.m. drink at Boomerang. Except that it's in the process of being raided by the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, a posted announcement that the liquor license has been suspended, the club shut down until further notice. Twenty agents in concert with the Miami Beach Police Department's Strategic Investigations Unit, carrying on the vital work of the nation. (Later that night the team would hit AM/PM, the after-hours party at Club Nu.) Uniformed officers swarming in, followed by undercover guys in face masks, blue jeans, and vinyl windbreakers - looking like frat boys out on a particularly malicious prank.
Captain Tom Wheeler of the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, white jeans, Brady Bunch haircut, just the facts ma'am: "We had gotten complaints of open drug use. Normally, our tips come from disgruntled employees, competitors, and sometimes, actual good citizens. Our investigation proved negligence; our officers made eighteen buys from patrons. An order was signed by director Richard Scully for an emergency order of suspension, to protect the health and safety of the public. A hearing will be held before the Department of Administration Hearing Office on January 28 to determine the status of the license."
The clampdown. Off-duty police and gun-toting security officers at Luke's. Rumors that the Miami Beach police are circumventing the Nuisance Abatement plan - warnings, meetings, etc. - by simply calling in the state boys. The Club Nu raid may have been inspired by a tip from a relative/actual good citizen of Chief Huber. Drugs are probably available at City Hall, after all. Conversely, Boomerang may have been, as one confidential informant put it, "too much fun." AM/PM, a degenerate free-for-all, "Ecstasy Central." Whatever, Paul Gabay of Boomerang obviously not happy: "We have the best security possible, but we can't be standing behind every customer. None of the management or employees has been identified with drug dealing, and we plan to reopen as soon as possible."
Tough times in clubland, but then there's always hard feelings with the aftermath of fun. Like one of the publicity-bedazzled police officers, who points to a cameraman from the television show Cops, who happened to be along for the ride: "I can't believe it. They didn't even take a picture.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Miami, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.