Earlier this year, it would have been hard to fathom that Treehouse would be celebrating its tenth anniversary while toeing the line between having a good time and adhering to a new normal.
But here we are.
The underground electronic music haven, located at 323 23rd St. in Miami Beach, has been staging events for the past three weeks, with CDC guidelines in place.
"We are operating at 50 percent capacity," Treehouse marketing director Sanford Rabin tells New Times. "We've spaced out all the tables, and we're only allowing up to six people per table. You are not allowed to have your mask off inside the club unless you're sitting at the table, drinking. Otherwise, you must have your drink outside, seated at a table or the patio.
"It's difficult to do the social-distancing thing," Rabin adds. "But we're trying our best."
The club installed hand-sanitizer dispensers throughout the space, and, before entering, attendees and employees are required to undergo a temperature check.
The venue reopened on October 2, shortly after Florida entered Phase Three of reopening. Two weeks later, Treehouse booked Detroit powerhouse Stacey Pullen on October 16.
What was supposed to be a smooth transition turned into frustration and confusion. The club had already opened — as code compliance had allowed it to — but was forced to close again.
"The city manager hadn't signed off on it, so code compliance had to backtrack and tell us, 'Sorry, you don't have the authorization to open, and you have to close your doors immediately.' And this was when we already had people inside," Rabin says. "Not many people, but we had to close the venue for 24 hours."
Treehouse received the proper sign-off the following morning and was allowed to reopen with a set from the legendary DJ Roger Sanchez.
"That went really well," Rabin says. "Roger had a great time. All the patrons had fun. We only got positive reviews. People in Miami love Roger."
And Stacey Pullen returned to play this past Friday.
Rabin describes the new Treehouse setup as "free-flowing." The entire club is accessible but has taken on a lounge vibe as opposed to its usually packed dance floor.
"The dance floor isn't what it used to be," Rabin admits. "We have tables in both rooms to comply with guidelines."
Aside from the added tables, the most noticeable change is the hours of operation. Sunsets at Treehouse is the new moniker for events. The club now opens Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 6 p.m. and closes around 11:30 to comply with Miami-Dade's midnight-to-6-a.m. curfew.
"It's been difficult juggling with the curfew because it was initially 11 p.m., and then it was midnight," Rabin says. "We were allowed to open at 5 a.m. and then had to backtrack to midnight. It's been a bit difficult just trying to get everyone on the same page with our new times."
Treehouse now offers a happy hour from 6 to 8 p.m. and plays more laid-back music to start the evening.
Similar to Club Space downtown, table reservations may be requested in advance via email or Instagram. But partygoers still have the option to purchase general-admission tickets — ranging from $30 to $60, depending on ticketing tier — if they don't want to splurge for a table.
"Due to limited compactly, we have allocated most of our tickets online ahead of time for reservations, so it may not be as easy as it once was to just walk up to the club and get in," Rabin says.
As it did in the Before Times, Treehouse offers free admission with RSVP on some nights when locals DJs are behind the decks.
This weekend, Treehouse will commemorate its tenth anniversary (and Halloween) with Marsh on Friday and Shiba San the following day.
Amid the ever-changing local curfews new COVID noise limits, the national uptick in cases, and the state's we'll-never-close insistence, it's hard to see just where Treehouse emerges from all of this.
"Obviously, it'll hurt," Rabin responds when asked what will happen if the club does close again. "All the staff and the patrons are so happy we're open. We've had nothing but a positive report from the patrons. I'm sure people would be let down, but they would understand that it's not our first choice. It's more of a necessary thing we [would] have to do."
Treehouse. 323 23rd St., Miami Beach; 786-318-1908; treehousemiami.com. Friday through Sunday 6 to 11:30 p.m.
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