"When I got my start in South Beach after coming back here from college, one of the first things I did was do marketing and booking at B.E.D. nightclub," Sam says of his storied nightlife career. "That led me to working at Heathrow Lounge."
If all these names sound unfamiliar to you, it's because they're long-gone hangouts of the city's club scene in the 2000s. However, Sam is perhaps best known for cofounding the Overthrow, a nightclub collective that threw parties at spots like Bella Rose and the annual Basel Castle event at the edge of Wynwood. He eventually went to work for Red Bull as the director of culture marketing, where he was responsible for organizing events across the American Southeast. One such event was the infamous United States of Bass gathering that brought Miami bass legends like Uncle Luke and DJ Laz together at Gramps.
However, although he was based in Miami while working for the energy drink company, he traveled often and couldn't shake the feeling that he was ought to return home and help reenergize the city he loves.
"One of the reasons I wanted to come back to Miami was that it was really crazy to see where Wynwood went from when I started doing Basel Castle there to where it is now," Sam says. The chance to work with his brother, Max, was also an appealing prospect. Max had spent the last few years working for entities like Pernod Ricard and LDV Hospitality. Perhaps that's why everyone has reason to be excited about the brothers' latest venture, Minnie's Disco, a pop-up lounge at Alter in Wynwood.
"I've wanted to contribute something back to Miami for while," Sam says. "I left like this was a cool opportunity to work with my brother, who I love and is one of the best hosts in modern Miami [nightlife] history, and Brad Kilgore, who I think is the best chef in Miami."
The trio came up with the concept as a means of hosting guests in Alter's bar area, complete with a late-night menu served until 2:30 a.m. and complemented by DJs who focus on disco, soul, and funk sounds.
Inspiration for Minnie's came from Sam's attendance at Red Bull Music Academy events across the country. "Remember when [RBMA] brought Giorgio Moroder down to Miami? That introduced me to a lot of his early stuff, as well as stuff by Nicky Siano and Larry Levan and the whole Paradise Garage. I learned a lot while also being interested in funk because of its connections to hip-hop. I was just listening to more and more of it because it was fun."
While places like the late Electric Pickle and Floyd have booked disco and funk acts in the past, Sam says he's been searching for a local venue that focuses solely on those styles. And with a city with as rich a dance music history as Miami, Sam is hoping to tap into a market that's looking for a nightclub experience that's fun but perhaps less intense than a techno or electro set. "This is music you can chill out and have a drink to or totally tear it up on the dance floor," he says.
However, because it is a pop-up, Minnie's does have an expiration date. Sam says for the time being, the plan is to only operate through the height of Miami's tourist season in spring. "We'll see how people feel," Sam says when asked if Minnie's might stay open in a more long-term capacity. "There's so much going on in Wynwood and Brad is doing so many different things, that we'll see."
If the music isn't enough to get you to stop by Minnie's, Sam is hoping the food and cocktails might change your mind. Because Alter's dinner tasting menu is generally in the $100 range, the Baum brothers and Kilgore wanted to make its late-night menu more affordable. "We are trying to keep the prices really low, so all the items are around $15."
Minnie's Disco. 223 NW 23rd St., Miami; facebook.com/minniesdisco. Thursday through Saturday 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.