It was about 9:00 on a Saturday night, and partygoers had yet to emerge from their caves. The shindig at the Upper Eastside Garden (7244 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-984-3231) was sparsely populated, but because the event was scheduled from 8:00 to midnight, I arrived early to take full advantage of the unlimited drinks available with the $10 entrance fee. Natalia Benedetti's Go On (an edited version of a Hitchcock film looped at a suspenseful moment) played on a screen before a few rows of striped cushions. Under a wooden hut, a DJ spun experimental electronic tracks.
Domingo Castillo, a self-proclaimed "aspiring drunk," arrived with two girls wearing jelly shoes. The El Salvador-born artist was tangled up in black, from his threads to the ringlet Afro on his head. He blew his nose into a polka-dot handkerchief.
"You reuse that?" I asked stupidly.
"Hell yea; then I can go like this to people," Castillo replied as he tried to rub his snot rag in my face. After a few minutes of idle conversation, he erupted into a jumbled aside about his people's quirks.
"We say whatever word we're saying repeatedly. Like, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah,' or 'No, no, no'.... Yeah, that's straight from El Salvador, yo."
Castillo disappeared into the minigolf course that lay in a cramped square at the back of the lot, to play a round and perhaps contemplate the obstacles designed by fellow local artists. On the other side of the venue, an ample-bosomed Nadia Mir, whom I had met a few months prior at another club, spoke sharply into her phone.
"It's Nadia, not Claudia, you fuck!" she snapped before clicking off on a guy she had made out with at a strip club the previous night. "You don't chase them; you make them chase you," she said as the moonlit garden behind her cast an eerie aura around her silhouette.
Playing the role of the elusive bitch seemed to work for her; the same guy called her back three times. But what kind of guys doesn't she hang up on?
"I prefer ugly guys to cute guys. Cute guys don't try as hard," Mir said. "Ugly guys like to give, give, give. I like to take, take, take."