Those following the ongoing saga of the Brickell space once known as Sidebar might be unsurprised to learn yet another new concept has debuted there. La Otra is the Latin bar and cabaret now inhabiting 337 SW Eighth St. It’s still run by the original owner of Sidebar, Jason Odio, the Miami-born hospitality veteran who's also behind the restaurant Ariete and the cocktail bar Baby Jane.
After Sidebar and its short-lived successor Kindred closed in 2018, a third project took over the troubled space. Insideout debuted in March with a nostalgic theme inspired by the famous '70s New York nightlife haven Studio 54. Unfortunately, like the iconic club, it too shuttered.
“It didn’t really work out the way we wanted it to,” Odio says of Insideout's closure. “We were going after the same crowd over and over again, and Miami is very competitive right now, so it was more of a challenge.”
La Otra is a different kind of enterprise for Odio, who's new to curating Latin bars. His previous ventures —Sidebar, Kindred, and Insideout — catered to Miami's nightclub-friendly crowds, more or less the same audience. So he brought in outside talent to assist him with this new undertaking.
Odio has teamed up with Marcelo Medina — who also has a history in the city's after-hours scene with his entertainment company MAG Miami — to help him bring La Otra to life. Having accrued experience organizing Latin-themed parties and events at bars such as La Victoria, Barsecco, and Komodo Lounge, Medina brings a unique element to the partnership.
“We always wanted to incorporate some sort of Latin element, but it’s one of those things of ‘stick to what you know,’ and what we knew wasn’t Latin," Odio says. "So while we were dealing with the challenge of reinventing the place, we were introduced to Marcelo Medina, who at the time was looking for a space of his own. [Together] we decided to take a dive into the Latin community, and we opened La Otra."
Although Odio hasn’t specialized in the Latin nightlife scene, he still maintains a love and respect for it. He is Cuban-American after all.
“We did a radical transition and just went full-blown Latin, and that’s not something that I’m used to," Odio says. "I barely speak Spanish, [but] I’m very proud to be from Miami and to be Cuban. To be able to cater to where I come from...it’s incredible."
La Otra will send a wave of Latin pride through Brickell via its music and its entertainment offerings. The sounds will be a varied mix of reggaeton, salsa, and other Latin genres. The venue will also adhere to its cabaret theme by incorporating live performances and shows every weekend. Since opening its doors November 8, La Otra has already hosted conga players tapping away on LED-lit drums, as well as cabaret dancers swinging their hips in eccentric getups such as glittery golden bodysuits and huge lighted wings.
Don’t expect the venue's interior to look too familiar, though. Tropical, glammed-out decor fills the completely converted space. Beyond the stage providing space for DJs and cabaret performers to do their thing, the disco balls and tropical plants hanging from the ceiling nicely complement the island-themed wallpaper. Medina’s sisters Luli and Mariale designed La Otra's aesthetic.
“They wanted to go for a boho-chic feel,” Odio says.
La Otra is open only Friday and Saturday, but there are plans to operate more nights in the near future. Friday nights, patrons can enjoy an extended happy hour from 5 to 11 p.m. during the bar's Friday I’m in Love party, which will offer “great deals on drinks and quality music,” according to Odio. The extravagant and ostentatious shows with which La Otra hopes to distinguish itself will be the main feature of Saturday evenings.
“At the end of the day, we just want people to enjoy themselves, whether that’s by dancing on the bar or dancing on the furniture," Odio says. "We want to show them a good time and give them some good-quality entertainment and service, all in a beautiful setting. That’s the backbone of the business we’re in.”
La Otra. 337 SW Eighth St., Miami; 305-908-9368; laotramiami.com. Friday 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. (happy hour 5 to 11), Saturday 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
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