Yet another new venue has emerged to try and reclaim the spot where the beloved Vagabond once stood. And the new joint, Armando Records, is hitting the ground running.
But don't expect an actual Armando to greet you at the door tomorrow night for the grand opening.
"Armando is a fictional character," explains co-owner Juan Molina on how the new nightclub got its name. "Armando used to be a roadie. He knew a lot of rock stars and became a rock-star wannabe. One day, he opened his own bar where he can invite all his friends to stop by."
This fanciful narrative didn't begin in Miami. The first Armando Records opened in Colombia in 2008. "Bogota is considered — with Buenos Aires — to have the best nightlife in Latin America," Molina says. "We opened Armando Records there as a club that fits 2,400 people. We have people from Europe, Asia, the U.S. coming. People were coming from all over the world when Condé Nast Traveler named us one of the 30 top hotspots in the world. We thought Miami was the next hotspot."
Molina and his partners spent the last year preparing for this upcoming weekend. Now Armando Records Miami is eager to celebrate its grand opening extravaganza this Saturday night. The night will feature the psychedelic cumbia of Colombian band Bomba Estéreo, which has flown in to christen the new venue. Also providing the soundtrack will be DJs Pal, GNZLZ, and Yovan-I, who have been with Armando Records since its inception.
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The night will give Miamians of all backgrounds a chance to learn what Armando is all about. "This will look very similar to the bar in Colombia, but we want it to be a bar for everyone, not just a Colombian bar. We'll have one room with an ambience of electronic/rock/indie music. The other room is a Latin ambience. Some people relate Latin with salsa or mariachi — this is more Spanish hip-hop."
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Though the space Armando occupies has had trouble sustaining a venue since the days of the Vagabond, the success of another Colombian-influenced bar, Wynwood's El Patio (winner of New Times' Best New Bar award) is perhaps an indicator of good fortune to come for Armando.
Molina says Armando Records Miami is already making plans for Art Basel weekend and is currently open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m.
They're ambitious hours for such a new club, but Molina is confident. "We want to change the perception of clubs in Miami," he says. "Ten years ago, the image of Miami was everyone had limos going to South Beach with girls in high shoes. This is a world-class city, not just a superficial or materialistic city. This is an alternative bar where people are people and there is no dress code."