As if the pace of the world wasn’t fast enough, movements in Miami nightlife somehow move even faster. It’s not easy to assign a single adjective or attribute to the past decade of after-hours happenings in the city: The 2010s saw the rise and subsequent commercialization of Wynwood, the decline of South Beach as a nightclub mecca, and the dawn of downtown Miami as a haven for after-hours misfits. Although we lost Grand Central, Electric Pickle, and numerous other spots, we gained the promise of a renewed Club Space and accumulated countless anecdotes that made local nightclubs the subject of fascination around the world.
Here are ten moments that defined Miami nightlife over the past decade:
The Electric Pickle Lives and Dies
Nightclubs come and go in Miami all the time, but few end up with the kind of long-lasting legacy left by the Electric Pickle. When Will Renuart and Tomas Ceddia in 2008 opened a venue in Wynwood, the neighborhood was effectively desolate after dark, and the neon "Bar Open Liquor" on the club's exterior served as the only sign of life. In its ten-year lifespan, Pickle punched well above its weight despite its diminutive size. Influential electronic acts such as Ed Banger figurehead Busy P, Maceo Plex, Nicolas Jaar, and Seth Troxler stopped by at some point to get behind the decks. So when the Pickle announced it would close for good at the end of this past June, Miami's dance music community mourned the loss of the institution the best way it knew how — by packing the dance floor till last call. Though the Electric Pickle is gone, its spirit lives on at ATV Records, Renuart's latest project with event producer Poplife, former Grand Central owner Brad Knoefler, and Casa Florida's Gaston Gonzalez. It's hard to imagine that even with an inviting new space and the Pickle's iconic disco ball in tow, Renuart will be able to re-create those ten magical years on North Miami Avenue at NE 29th Street. — Jose D. Duran
The pulse of Miami’s nightlife once beat on the corner of North Miami Avenue and NW Seventh Street. Grand Central, one of the most vibrant venues in Miami's history, was born March 24, 2010. Under Poplife's guidance, the club's off-kilter bookings — which encompassed everything from indie rock and hip-hop to dance music — impressive lighting, and raucous dance floor made the downtown spot a safe haven for Miami’s freaks. Upstairs lay the Garret, a club within a club that hosted live shows and unforgettable parties such as Peachfuzz and Catwalk. After a solid five and a half years of spilled beer and sweat-soaked memories, Grand Central met its demise and closed its doors September 26, 2015. Though the club never outright explained the reason for its untimely closure, all signs pointed to the construction of Miami Worldcenter, which mowed down other nightlife fixtures such as Will Call and Mekka. Grand Central’s closure left a crater in the hearts of local nightcrawlers and music lovers, but its legacy will live on forever. — Jessica Gibbs
Often derided by electronic music purists as a tourist trap made for people who care more about bottle service than hitting the dance floor, LIV has had the last laugh this decade. In 2008, the Fontainebleau Miami Beach reemerged from a two-year, $1 billion renovation that saw it transformed from a fading resort to a leader in the hospitality industry. The debut of LIV — whose name derives from the roman numerals for the year the hotel opened, 1954 — in the former Tropigala Lounge was a large reason for the resort's rise to prominence. The nightclub got off to a rough start owing to its inception during the Great Recession — never mind that Miami Beach's nightclub epicenter was South Beach, far from the Fontainebleau's Mid-Beach location. However, thanks to its charismatic main man, David Grutman, the club kept chugging along until the economy recovered and tourists with disposable income returned. Since then, LIV has repeatedly appeared on the Nightclub & Bar Media Group's list of the 100 highest-grossing clubs in the nation. However, LIV's highest honor might be the consistent name-drops it gets from hip-hop artists. In 2017, the club underwent a $10 million renovation that included an upgraded lighting system and refreshed decor. Sure, LIV isn't an underground haven, but it has demonstrated it doesn't have to be one. EDM and open-format DJ sets have always been key to the club's success, and Grutman wouldn't have it any other way. — Jose D. Duran
It's difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when a neighborhood becomes gentrified, but the opening of Wood Tavern in December 2011 seems to be a good marker for Wynwood. The patio and hipster vibe of the bar on the corner of NE 25th Street and NW Second Avenue got Kendall residents to dip their toes into a part of town that used to be considered off-limits after dark. Long lines to enter Wood soon became commonplace Saturday nights, and competitors such as Gramps and El Patio began popping up in its radius. Wood Tavern played a major role in empowering Wynwood to take the crown from Coconut Grove and South Beach as the Miami neighborhood where locals go to party. — David Rolland
DJ Shadow at Mansion.
Photo by George Martinez
DJ Shadow Gets Kicked Off the Decks at Mansion
DJ Shadow’s removal from the decks at the now-closed nightclub Mansion in December 2012 was a flash point in the debate over the effects of EDM on dance culture. After a promoter stopped the celebrated beatmaker from playing for apparently being "too future" for the Miami Beach crowd, a social media shitstorm ensued, dragging the reputation of South Beach and Miami clubs at large down with it. The fallout saw Mansion issue an apology and Shadow share the mix with a cheeky note attached. Fortunately, he returned less than a year later, in October 2013: III Points sought Shadow as a headlining act for the first year of the festival, a gesture designed to show Miami was ready for sounds beyond bass drops and chants of “1, 2, 1, 2, 3, let’s go!” in its dance mixes. For as ridiculous as the whole thing was, the incident embodied several of the trends and competing ideologies that dominated Miami’s after-hours culture in the 2010s. — Zach Schlein
Calvin Harris Yells at a Heckler and Gets Her Booted From LIV
The 2010s was a decade of EDM and megaclub excess, and though Las Vegas may be the nation's capital for confetti-cannon revelry, no bottle-service palace out-VIPs LIV in Miami Beach. Although everyone from Lil Wayne to Drake has name-dropped the club's reoccurring event LIV on Sunday and Kanye West famously rapped about owner David Grutman kicking out a groupie in the song "On Sight," EDM kingpin Calvin Harris is the only DJ to get on the mike and call for the removal of a loudmouthed guest at the club. On the August 2013 night in question, the Scottish superstar was hot off then-recent hits "We Found Love" and "Feel So Close," the latter of which he stopped abruptly after a woman yelled at him to "play something original." He replied, "That song was originally written by me. Why do you come to a fucking Calvin Harris show where Calvin Harris is DJ'ing and don't even know Calvin Harris tracks, you dumb fucking bitch?" The rest of the audience roared as Harris threatened to play the song all night just for her before demanding that Grutman kick her out. Hey, that's the VIP EDM crowd for ya. — Kat Bein
There was a time when the building opposite Club Space was occupied by a dingy strip club called Goldrush. To attract clientele, the spot relied more on its 24-hour liquor license than talent. Everyone knew if you wanted to see Miami's best strippers, you had to travel north to the county line to check out places such as King of Diamonds and Tootsie's. Goldrush quietly closed in 2013 and was partly demolished; a barely clothed behemoth opened in its place. In February 2014, Miami was introduced to E11even, and the city's 24-hour party district would never be the same. Though scantily clad dancers are the norm at the club, it prefers to call itself a cabaret. Whatever it is, this hedonistic destination has attracted the likes of Jamie Foxx, Diplo, Rick Ross, Kaskade, and Drake since its inception. However, its greatest achievement might have been breaking Space's dominance in the area. For more than a decade, Space was the unquestioned after-hours spot for all of Miami, but with the lure of big-name acts, an incredible light show, and, yes, X-rated entertainment, E11even quickly became an alternative for those who would rather party under LED lights than the sun. (Space later regained much of its footing after the Space Invaders took over the legendary club in 2016.) E11even was also part of the larger movement that saw South Beach's nightlife offerings decline while areas such as Wynwood and downtown began to exert their power. — Jose D. Duran
Music Venues and Clubs Close as Gentrification Spreads
We’re gathered here today to celebrate the life of the Vagabond, White Room, Bardot, the Stage, Heart, Fox’s Sherron Inn, Tobacco Road, the Wynwood Yard, and Sidebar. These legendary venues facilitated countless memorable moments in Miami nightlife during the 2010s, not to mention hearing loss from the epic performances hosted on their stages, along with awkward mornings spent waking up to empty bank accounts. Whether they were the victims of ongoing battles with the City of Miami and noise complaints from neighbors or cleared out to make way for giant apartment buildings, these beloved venues were shuttered far too soon. — Jessica Gibbs
In March 2018, someone decided it would be cool to walk a horse into the Miami Beach nightclub Mokai. It was extremely fucking not cool, because the horse fell and bucked a poor VIP hostess off its back. Inevitably, a video went viral, an earthquake of online outrage rumbled, and Mokai's business license was revoked. But this is Miami, where consequences stick to the rich like a magnet on plastic, and Mokai was allowed to reopen only ten days later. It’s still in business, a shining example of all the worst parts of Miami nightlife under one roof. And Mokai's owner, Roman Jones — who denied any prior knowledge of the stunt even though his Instagram page indicates he's the sort of guy who would think it's a great idea — is still enjoying a booming career in local hospitality. He later bought that horse in a nauseating PR stunt. Apparently, he renamed it "Hope" and relocated it to a barn, where we hope it got a running start and kicked him in the balls. — Ryan Pfeffer
The year 2000 sounded like a faraway sci-fi dream, which may or may not explain the name of Club Space. It opened at the dawn of the millennium and welcomed a new era of Miami nightlife extravagance. For nearly 20 years, the club has welcomed international DJs to play marathon sets on its famed open-air Terrace, where revelers party in Miami's year-round warmth hours past sunrise. The downtown institution survived the period when Eminem declared "nobody listens to techno" and went on to enjoy the fruits of the EDM explosion, although it changed hands a couple of times in the process. But by the middle of the 2010s, Club Space had become infamous for phone theft and first-floor strippers. It always commanded top-tier talent, but it began to leave a gritty taste in clubgoers' mouths. That changed in 2016, when the place was bought out yet again. Space is now managed and programmed by Davide Danese, Jose Coloma, and David Sinopoli, who bring years of experience booking for Link Miami Rebels and III Points. The new owners, who dubbed themselves the "Space Invaders," renovated the building and breathed new life into its sturdy bones. Since then, Club Space has once again become a premier destination for house and techno lovers around the world and has even empowered live music and local acts through its sub-venues Floyd and the Ground. — Kat Bein
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Jose D. Duran is the associate editor of Miami New Times. He's the strategist behind the publication's eyebrow-raising Facebook and Twitter feeds. He has also been reporting on Miami's cultural scene since 2006. He has a BS in journalism and will live in Miami as long as climate change permits.
Zach Schlein is the former arts and music editor for Miami New Times. Originally from Montville, New Jersey, he holds a BA in political science from the University of Florida and writes primarily about music, culture, and clubbing, with a healthy dose of politics whenever possible. He has been published in The Hill, Mixmag, Time Out Miami, and City Gazettes.