The Standard’s Servers and Bartenders Are the Star DJs at Tunes From the Team

The Standard's bartender Anthony Elia performs as Absolum at Tunes From the Team.
The Standard's bartender Anthony Elia performs as Absolum at Tunes From the Team. Chris Carter
After a long week of hustling, most of us reward ourselves by indulging in some kind of vice: eating, drinking, shopping, binge-watching.

Christopher Foor and John Santiago, however, choose to go back to their workplace on their days off.

The two work as servers at the Standard Spa, Miami Beach. But on Wednesday nights, they and a group of rotating fellow employees get the chance to spin records as part of Tunes From the Team. The weekly series shows off staff talent during High Tides Happy Hour from 4 to 8 p.m. at the hotel's Lido Bayside Grill.

The series came about after the Standard’s marketing team noticed the staff's musical gifts.

“Beyond their everyday lives, a lot of them have amazing talents and skills,” says Kevin O’Donnell, director of marketing and programming. He adds that the series gives them a chance to show they can both work and play at the Standard.

Besides Foor and Santiago, the team of DJs includes the hotel’s boutique manager, a spa masseuse, and restaurant servers and bartenders. All possess previous DJ'ing experience or are taking lessons in preparation for their sets. Foor, for example, was classically trained as a pianist, and Santiago has been DJ'ing for seven years.

“DJ'ing is very competitive, especially with the scene here in Miami. It’s really hard to get good gigs, so we take it very seriously,” Foor says.

The DJs play an assortment of chill styles of music, from deep house and breakbeat to tech house and disco — music Santiago says is loyal to the Standard’s “jungle beach vibe.”
click to enlarge Toast with frosé at the Standard's Lido Bayside Grill. - CHRIS CARTER
Toast with frosé at the Standard's Lido Bayside Grill.
A hidden gem, the Standard is located on Belle Island, close enough to South Beach to feel luxurious yet far enough to avoid the tourists flocking to Lincoln Road.

“If you’re here, you’re in the know,” Santiago says. “Either you’re a member or a friend brought you.”

The setting itself is breathtaking and serene. Across the patio, hammocks hang in green nooks. The pool is crowned by a dazzling waterfall and surrounded by white and yellow chairs that reflect the turquoise bay beside it.

With its tropical-resort ambiance, the hotel is the perfect place to unwind, and its happy hour is a rewarding mini-vacation for those arriving after work.

“It ends earlier than most happy hours, so you can relax and enjoy the music and some frosé, and then go home and get ready for the next day,” Santiago says.

Since its April debut, the series has not only boosted the morale of employees but also strengthened their relationship with the Standard’s regular guests and members.

“One of the coolest things about the series is that I can tell people at their tables that I’m one of the resident Wednesday-night DJs here,” Foor says. “When you engage with people and go deeper with a person by sharing your artistic passion, it really adds a personal touch to what we do here.”

“It’s been amazing to see how our Tunes From the Team series has allowed for more personal interactions between our members and Standard family,” says Sebastien Struss, the hotel’s membership director.

“Instead of seeing our team just in their day-to-day roles here, our members now get to experience [the staff's] passion and creativity, which allows for a more personal connection within our little tropical oasis,” he adds. “Before the series started, they used to come regularly for the happy-hour specials, but now they stay even longer for the great music and vibe.”
click to enlarge Anthony Elia DJs as Absolum as part of Tunes From the Team. - CHRIS CARTER
Anthony Elia DJs as Absolum as part of Tunes From the Team.
For Foor, Tunes From the Team reaffirms why he loves working at the Standard. As an openly gay man, Foor says it’s important for him to feel he doesn’t have to mute any part of his identity at work. He and other employees consider the hotel a safe space for marginalized communities.

“With the political climate right now, I’m proud to work somewhere that supports women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community, trans rights, and immigrants. It’s a really intense time in history right now, but I know that when I come to work, my company has my back,” Foor says. “I don’t think there’s a lot of hotels or bars that are quite as loose, hip, refined, and cutting-edge as this one.” 

Santiago, who like Foor has worked at the spa for seven months, says DJ'ing at the Standard is special and exciting because it's uncommon for hotels to let staff be such a big part of the visitor experience.

“The fact that we are trusted to come here on our days off and be just as responsible as we are when working builds a strong mutual respect,” Santiago says. “It’s very rewarding for me to come into work as a server the day after DJ'ing and have someone tell me, ‘You killed it yesterday.’ It brings unity with the members and those at your tables. We’re not just the water-bearers, but we’re a part of this as much as they are.”

Tunes From the Team. 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays at the Lido Bayside Grill at the Standard Spa, Miami Beach, 40 Island Ave., Miami Beach; Admission is free.
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Patricia Cárdenas is a Colombian-American arts and music journalist. She loves '80s pop, bike rides, and thrifting.