Saturday, March 14, was supposed to be a celebration: Electronic DJ and producer Guy Gerber had been scheduled to warm up Club Space's crowds in preparation of another stupendous Miami Music Week at the vaunted after-hours venue. The likes of Adam Beyer, Carl Cox, Claude VonStroke, Jamie Jones, Richie Hawtin, and other marquee names were expected to get behind the decks at the downtown dance epicenter and lead revelers into partying well past sunrise throughout the week, a regular feature of one of Miami's most cherished and renowned international gatherings.
Instead, Club Space sits silent. Faced with the threat posed by the novel coronavirus and accompanying orders by federal, state, and local officials, Miami Music Week events and the city's nightclubs have been cast into purgatory, unsure of when the heath scare will subside and partiers will be able to congregate en masse once again.
At one point, it seemed as if the nightlife industry would give the pandemic the middle finger and carry on with its scheduled itinerary. However, they began backing down one by one as the extent of coronavirus' presence and menace stateside became clear. Miami nightlife kingpin David Grutman pulled the trigger first: He declared on Instagram that his nightclubs LIV and Story would "take a pause" but gave no clear indication when his multimillion-dollar venues would reopen.
Then, over the weekend, more late-night Miami staples, such as Gramps, E11even, and Basement, began shutting down. Then came the edict from Miami and Miami Beach officials Sunday evening that nonessential businesses could operate only from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m., killing any hope that clubs could try to weather the storm by taking extra precautions to keep patrons and staff safe.
For Space, the decision to temporarily close was made public Thursday evening in a letter shared with patrons on social media.
"After imagining all the possible ways to make Space [Miami Music Week] happen, we are at a point that the health of our community is of the highest value, and under the direction of City of Miami officials, we have decided to postpone all of our upcoming events to a later date," the statement read.
"What sent everything into orbit was the announcement of the first coronavirus case in Miami-Dade, followed by [Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez's] conference [on Thursday]," club co-owner Coloma Kaboomsky says of the decision to close Space. "Seeing how we can process so many people in one party, it didn't feel like it would be responsible to be open."
The decision wasn't an easy one to make. It's no secret that Miami clubs often rely on March's earnings — the peak of the city's tourist season — to carry them through the slower summer months. Without that safety net, venues are at risk of closing.
However, if anyone at Club Space is familiar with natural disaster-prompted uncertainty, it's partner David Sinopoli. As one of the cofounders of III Points, he's seen his festival threatened by everything from Category 5 hurricanes to the Zika virus. All things willing, the coronavirus will be just another blip and the cost of doing business that he must endure.
"[Zika and Hurricane Matthew] was a regional thing and on my shoulder only, but this... everyone is in it together," he says with a sigh. "Everyone is fucked. Tours are canceling left and right."
Still, Space's operators are trying to use their platform to shine a bit of light on their patrons during these dark times.
"At this point, we got to represent something other than panic and sadness," Sinopoli says.
For Miamians wallowing at home and unsure of what the future holds, Space hopes to add a bit a levity to everyone's day with a series of live-streams from its DJ booth.
"The reason we do what we do is music," Kaboomsky says. "Music creates the community that we thrive in; it gives the opportunity not only to make a living but to enjoy living. Music also has the power to heal. If you are sick and you're in a good mood, you're going to get better faster."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
According to Kaboomsky, Space will begin broadcasting positive energy Friday, March 20, with a special set from Italian techno mage Marco Carola. The stream will start at 2 p.m., so Italian citizens whose morale has also been ravaged by coronavirus can enjoy his set as well. A 24-hour stream featuring all of Space's resident DJs, including Bakke, Danyelino, Ms. Mada, and Thunderpony, is also in the works.
Space also plans to help the people most at risk of being forgotten and untreated during the pandemic: the city's poor. The club will organize a food drive when it's safe for staffers to coordinate the effort.
"In the city, you have a lot of people living paycheck-to-paycheck — a lot of poor people and a lot of undocumented people," Kaboomsky says. "This is going to affect them really strongly."