With The Donna Summer Musical headed to the Arsht Center in May, clothing store racks filled with leopard print and sequins, and a president facing an impeachment probe, it almost feels like we're living through the disco era all over again.
Savannah Smith is a fan of disco music and culture herself, so creating an entirely new disco party experience that marries "a little bit of old and a little bit of new" was a no-brainer for the Miami-based hospitality entrepreneur. Smith is the mastermind behind Peach Room, Miami's 21st-century answer to New York's storied discotheques like the Loft, the Gallery, and of course, Studio 54 — all venues that in some way informed every part of Smith's planning process.
Peach Room is a traveling pop-up disco party that will make its debut at the Anderson Saturday, October 5. Smith's primary priority is ensuring that everyone who walks into the Anderson feels welcome, uninhibited, and free to dance like nobody's watching. "They say the dance floor was a democracy [at Studio 54]," Smith says. "There were all these different groups that really found a place, and they all got to express themselves in the same space with no judgment from anyone."
Social circles at bars and clubs are even more integrated now than they were in the early '70s, so efforts to make every kind of person feel welcome is essential when re-creating a culture that operates with the same philosophy. In addition to the mandatory disco ball and streamers, Peach Room will feature several '70s-style signature cocktails (think sweet liqueurs like St-Germain, Campari, and Kahlua) and some surprise guests and performances that bring the same level of spontaneity and carefree fun that characterized the dance floors of the 1970s.
With retro decor and a regular crowd that already loves to dance, the Anderson was Smith's natural venue choice. "People there just want to get down," she says, "which is exactly the vibe that I'm going for." The Anderson's tufted vinyl seating and tiled bar counters add to the period decor that Smith knows are key for setting the vibe for Peach Room.
In-house DJ Tillery James will spin for a portion of the night alongside local DJ Jessica Who, whom Smith says "really gets the vision for the music." A vinyl party, where tracks play the whole way through, wasn't the exact vision Smith had for Peach Room, instead opting for a blend of pure disco tracks with remixes that put a modern spin on classic tunes.
At the same time, she knows Miami's dance venues can fall into the trap of playing strictly house and techno that do little to engage guests lyrically and offer limited variety in terms of atmosphere. Peach Room, Smith says, seeks to become the middle ground between dive bars and mega-clubs that Miami seems to lack: "a space for people who just want to dance without the fuss of waiting in line or buying an expensive table... I just wanted something that was a pure dance party."
Though no concrete plans have been made, Smith hopes to craft individual Peach Room parties centered around events or holidays that could tie in with a disco party theme. She hopes to collaborate with artists or fashion houses for Art Basel to bring an outside perspective into the event planning process.
"I'm looking to combine the vibe of a disco with the comfort of being at a house party with all of your friends where you feel like you can fully let loose and be yourself," Smith says. "Hopefully everyone is drenched in sweat by the end of night."