Back in March, it seemed unimaginable that COVID-19 would hang around until the end of the year, like the uninvited guest who keeps cadging beers long after everyone else has left the party. Yet, here we are.
While staying home is still the best course of action, socially distanced events are happening around the city. One of them is a new collaborative project between Club Space and Bar Lab that's set to debut on New Year's Eve in the Magic City Innovation District.
"The opportunity of doing an open-air venue at a park with our brothers at Bar Lab came to us somewhere in the summertime," David Sinopoli, co-owner of Club Space, tells New Times. "It's a lot about timing, and it's a lot about opportunity and collaboration."
Space Park, located at 298 NE 61st St., was born out of a necessity to devise a new way to experience live music. When the opportunity arose to lease a large patch of land, Elad Zvi and Gabe Orta, founders of Bar Lab, a consulting and hospitality company best known for the Broken Shaker, partnered with Space's owners Sinopoli, Coloma Kaboomsky, and Davide Danese.
"We're local companies," Orta explains. "We're here because we love our community, we're friends and coworkers. We want to make sure we do it the right way, and our intentions are coming from a community point of view. For us, it's going to be as much of a big party. We're going to try our best to make our community happy."
Naturally, Bar Lab will lead the park's beverage program while the Space crew will handle the bookings, but all events will be a joint effort between the two teams.
"It's an opportunity to test a bunch of different concepts," Kaboomsky tells New Times. "COVID-19 is going to be around for a little longer. So we're going to test a bunch of different ideas like food and beverage and expand our team."
Space Park will debut on New Year's Eve with the Ukraine techno duo Artbat and DJ/producer Rony Seikaly at the helm, followed by Nii Tei and Club Space resident Ms. Mada's back-to-back set. Bedouin and Eduardo Castillo are set to take over the decks on Saturday, January 2.
Partygoers will have to wait a little longer before Space Park can unleash the full potential of its 6,000-person capacity. For the time being, staff will strictly enforce safety guidelines — facemasks and temperature checks are required, attendance will be limited to 25 percent occupancy, and the oak tree-pocked venue will comply with the city's curfew: 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. for New Year's Eve and 3 p.m. until midnight thereafter.
"Doing a big event will have a lot of people, and there are a lot of emotions about it for the past eight months," Zvi says. "So our concern is keeping everyone safe. We want to go with the guidelines and do it the right way."
"We are going to be connecting with the music," Sinopoli adds. "So know that even if you're 36 feet away from me, we're having a drink, we hear good music under trees, our longitude and latitude is fairly the same. But we want it to be clear: Yes, it's New Year's Eve. Artbat is playing, and it may look big, but it's not. It's only a quarter of the people."
Club Space reopened in October, and while the venue remains a shadow of its former vibrant self, it has more than made do, providing a space for revelry with COVID-19 guidelines in mind. As at the 11th Street nightclub, Space Park attendees must reserve tables in advance. But unlike its brick-and-mortar nightlife sister, the park features four small dance floors — a notable casualty the 11th Street club had to absorb in order to provide sufficient distance between attendees.
"Since the park is so much larger, the surface area we are going to be using feels ten times bigger than the club. At [Club Space], we have 30 tables. At the park, we're going to have 60 tables with much more room," Kaboomsky says. "We are going to have four small dance floors where you have to wear a mask. It's limited capacity, and each dance floor has its own bar."
The team insists it's early into the concept and hopes to grow Space Park past outdoor raves.
"I think what is going to happen is we grow organically, and our goal is to fill a void in Miami, and that may not necessarily mean just big events," Zvi says.
The ultimate goal is to create a community-centric space that will showcase other local businesses and events of all kinds — from big electronic acts to laid-back jazz nights.
"It is not just going to be an event space, per se," Sinopoli says. "We're going to grow it and activate other community businesses in there to come in as a micro-concept. It'll just be a vibe. I just want it to be clear we are leading with big events, but it will also be a community center where people can come out and chill because it's going to be really beautiful, and we want Miami to really prosper from it."
Space Park. 298 NE 61st St., Miami.
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.