Miami nightlife, doing that crazy tri-ethnic stomp. The Latin division cranking up with the Miss Hispanidad International Pageant, a Hispanic Heritage Festival production at the Fontainebleau Hilton's Club Tropigala. Glitterama time, the room all tarted up with faux Roman sculptures, brass pillars, various recreations of atmospheric palm fronds in the old Havana mode. The contestants, hailing from obscure beauty pools like Honduras and El Salvador, parading about in green and orange swimsuits, setting the audience on edge. An onslaught of flying-wedge-of-glamour entrances, preening dressed-to-kill women with tremendous hips, the men gaping and relegated, as usual, to the adjunct-to-the-wife's-night-out role. Lots of wealthy businessmen and outlandishly dressed homosexuals, drawn, as they are in everyday life, to youth and beauty. Everybody playing the big spender, ordering drinks and hors d'oeuvres. The press, eternal beggars at the banquet of life, clinging to the fringes.
On the judging panel, people like banker Carlos Arboleya ("It's very good this year") and singer Roberto Torres, highlighted by our fave rave Latin star, the Argentinian comedian Jorge Porcel of the Telemundo variety show A la cama con Porcel. Unfailingly affable and truly built for comfort, Porcel signing autographs and generating goodwill. "My show is like Johnny Carson, a good combination: singers, five musicians, four girls -- las gatitas de Porcel -- and jokes. Now we are changing the show, more for the family. Oh no, of course there will be girls on the new show."
The Miss Hispanidad girls, lacking the rhinestones-and-jutting-bazookas punch of Porcel's sex kittens, making do with the consolations of the charm wars, adhering to the ritualized form of beauty pageants. Rigid smiles, hugs, and air-kisses at the end, dignity in the face of failure and victory. The former Miss Hispanidad, hometown girl Yulaykis Piloto, being especially gracious to this year's winner, Monica Monreal of Mexico. An era passes and life goes on.
Lot of real life at a Haitian concert with the all-girl band Riske and the all-boy Bossa Combo, a Melodie Makers production at the terminally Anglo and fairly nonatmospheric Mahi Shrine Auditorium on NW River Drive. In the foyer, the Golden Book of Mahi Temple encased in glass, along with photos of the Mahi Divan and the Mahi Potentate. A huge main room, suitable for miniature clown car races, furnished with uncovered plywood banquet tables. Clean, air-conditioned, and functional in the Holiday Inn-ish style, a long way from a sweaty, island jump-up.
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SHOW ME HOW
Kind of a promising start, though, with the bartender insisting that beer be served in plastic glasses: "No bottles -- for fight purposes, we do not." No fights, but plenty of amazing visuals, sort of a high school prom/USO dance infused with a dose of Motown flash. Laughing couples posing for six-dollars-a-pop keepsake Polaroids. Lone wolves in post-Super Fly suits, the Haitian eqivalent of the restless bachelors in the movie Marty, lining up for dinners of conch, fried pork, and rice. Waitresses serving drinks on cardboard beer case trays. Beautiful women, all Patti LaBelle hair and beaded dresses, luminously black and stately as queens. The networking session/social hour suddenly interrupted by the lead singer of Bosso Combo shouting, "Ya'll ready to party?" From there, a steady flow of lilting compas music, people dancing close and immediately clearing the floor between songs. Everything -- the music, the ambiance, the people -- hypnotic, energizing, irresistible.
More energizing entertainment possibilities coming up at Club Anarchy (the logo, a circled letter A, is a symbol for anarchy) in Coconut Grove, opening very shortly. On the site of the old Masonic temple/Society Billiards club on McFarlane Road, the 6800-square-foot dance club/restaurant will feature hypnotic techno and industrial progressive music, among other club music disciplines. The program outlined by manager Paul Woodward, formerly with The Klink and Limelight in London, fairly ambitious: "Downstairs we're going to have the Rebus Bar and Grill, with the same music but lower volume. There'll be music videos and projections of the dancers piped in on monitors. It'll be casual, inexpensive food -- chicken in peanut sauce, that kind of thing. The upstairs dance club has been specifically designed for good music, along the lines of the original raves. We'll be able to adapt to crowds and trends, foresee changes."
Trend central, South Beach, also rolling along with the crowd. Paragon saluting the Olympics with its own torch-lighting ceremony. Warsaw doing a new techno night on Saturdays, "Phantasia," featuring guest disc jockeys like The Rave Doctors and The Punisher from Limelight. The club also celebrating its third anniversary on August 21 with a "Midsummer Night's Dream" party, the occasion starring old Warsaw favorite "Danny the Wonder Pony." A couple of interesting occasions at Third Rail Company as well. The Hypnoboyz production of "Interstella" on Friday nights really jumping, and better yet, intelligent. On the walls, projections of psychedelic imagery and comic book covers. Inside the "UltraWorld" back room, incense, homemade art videos (lingering close-ups of people drooling, etc.), and films by the Quay brothers. Backstage, the black drag-queen revue Technogirlz having make-overs and body caps, disc jockey and BAM! comic-book store owner Ursula 1000 working arcane turf with campy juxtapositions of the Fat Albert theme and demanding dance music: "We're playing a lot of techno, unfortunately, but hopefully I'll work in some funk soon. There should be more sensuality. I'm really into the more cerebral English trance dub stuff, like Andrew Weatherall and Fabi Paras." The crowd beyond mixed, encompassing an odd vision-in-clashing-polyester character, girls in early-Madonna crinolines, and some guy expounding about the "insanity of this bullshit."
"The Station" on the following night somewhat lower on the fun meter, polite college kids and an actual circa-1966 hootenanny interlude. Co-owner Parnell Delcham pointing out a madly dancing French girl in white tights. The week before she'd apparently really let go and had a good long sex romp in the glass-lined back room. Our companion delighting in the fact that a club crasher is now impersonating him around town, demanding "crack, ecstasy, whatever you got." Swept away by all the fun, in a throwing-caution-to-the-winds mood, downing two vitamin-crammed Blast drinks at the Smart Bar. Up all night, of course, trolling through a nightmarish wasteland of the fitfully sleeping homeless, couples screeching like cats ("Fuck you, maricon...." "Fuck you, puta!") and various unappetizing nightstalkers. The Road Warrior without nifty-looking cars or an upbeat ending. It might have been more sensible, as Lou Reed once put it, to opt for the usual cocktail and "nullify existence" for the evening.