"As water boils and changes form, you'll come here one way and leave another."
That whole transformational nightclub experience is what industry vets Russ Bruce and Anthony Moretti hope to create when they open the Magic City's first performance-driven party hall, Steam Miami on August 14.
From the industrial steam pipe that releases puffs of smoke onto NE 14th Street to "secret rooms," a metal-beaded curtained catwalk that circulates the club, and giant chains that hang from the ceiling, everything about Steam encompasses an element of surprise.
Located in the former Vagabond space, Bruce and Moretti take pride in their 10,000-square-foot "part nightclub, part theater, part live entertainment" venue.
"It's very interactive," says Bruce. "The team has total creative control to interact with the crowd."
By "team," Bruce is referring to the housewives, nuns, butlers, and the rest of the characters that charm the crowd with their impromptu revues and wild props, including a plastic turkey.
"We embrace all fetishes," he laughs. "As the night goes on, the performance gets edgier. No one person will have the same experience twice."
Originally from Cocoa Beach, Bruce has been in the nightlife biz for most of his life, traveling to all 50 states with the exception of Alaska, opening coffee houses and microbreweries across Seattle, and being exposed to the live music industry in L.A.
Long Island native Moretti dove into the music business straight out of college when he began booking DJs with entertainment mogul Ricky Greenstein, who helped discover LMFAO, Shwayze, and Far East Movement, and who happens to be Steam's musical curator.
Bruce and Moretti crossed paths almost a decade ago and since then, the two have become close friends and business partners, establishing their own firm, Ramp Management Group. Back in April, the two purchased the property from Carmel Ophir.
"Russell was a good friend of mine," Moretti explains. "He said, 'Let's go to Miami and build a place.' We started working on a project and it snowballed to this."
In addition to Steam, the dudes are also opening Railroad Blues, a speakeasy, and the Backyard, an outdoor music venue, all on the same block.
"They're three completely different venues that happen to be owned by the same people," he clarifies. "They all have their distinct character."
While Steam encompasses, as Bruce calls it, more of an "interactive-theater-meets-nightclub" kind of vibe, Railroad Blues, which is set to make its debut August 21, is all about music and cocktails.
Disguised as the Railroad News newsstand, the speakeasy isn't open to anyone - if you wanna party like it's the 1920s, you'll need the not-so-secret password available on social media, of course.
"The key is to provide a unique experience like people did in the Prohibition days," Bruce explains. "You won't know this [Railroad Blues] exists until you make it pass the door."
Inside, every detail, from stained mirrors to a wall of vintage suitcases, and a bar made from tire scraps, transport you to the days when the cocktail was king.
Much like the design of the Vagabond, Steam and Railroad Blues will also have an outdoor patio.
"The show doesn't stop at Steam," Bruce clarifies. "But the outside will have more of a relaxed atmosphere with hammocks."
As for Railroad Blues, the terrace will carry more of a "low key" vibe. Opening this fall, the Backyard will serve as a casual hangout spot where Bruce and Moretti plan on hosting weekend concerts.
"When you're in Vegas, you go to O or the Blue Man Group for a show," Bruce goes on. "When you're in the House of Blues, you're in the House of Blues. But here, you have it all."
Everything, including food trucks.
Opening three different venues with totally different concepts all on the same block, however, is no easy feat (the guys invested $5 million in the 17,000-square-foot property where Steam, Railroad Blues, and the Backyard are located).
Regardless of the bold move, Bruce and Moretti remain confident in their project.
"This whole business is a challenge," Bruce admits. "But that's what makes it so fun. Miami is lacking places like this and we're gonna fill that void."
Wish You Were Here Preview Party. With DJ Bailey Smalls. Thursday, August 14. Steam Miami, 30 NE 14th St., Miami. The party starts at 11 p.m. and tickets cost $10 to $20. RSVP at steammiami.com or call 786-516-3393.
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