David Grutman stands in front of his empire.
David Grutman stands in front of his empire.
Photo Courtesy of World Red Eye

Watch the Industry’s Top Names Discuss the Future of Miami Nightlife Tonight at PAMM

What would this city be without nightlife? Probably nothing more than a good place to hide a body.

Whether or not you’re one of the people standing in line outside LIV or Space on a Saturday, you must at least acknowledge what the club scene has done for Miami, especially Miami Beach. What gold was for 1840s San Francisco, nightlife was for ’90s South Beach.

Money, fame, and cocaine flooded into this city like a wild river. But that was then, and this is now.

What’s next? That’s the question that almost always seems to be on Miami’s mind.

Tonight, at the Pérez Art Museum Miami, a panel of the industry’s top names will attempt to answer that question as they gather for "The Influence of Nightlife on the Modern Renaissance of Miami," a panel discussion hosted by World Red Eye and its founder, Seth Browarnik.

The panel, sponsored by Perrier Jouet and Absolut Elyx, will include names like Chris Paciello (Risk, Liquid), David Grutman (LIV, Story), Eric Milon (Strand, Mansion), Navin Chatani (Wall Nightclub, Foxhole), and Nicola Siervo (Bar None, Wall). Alfred Spellman, Miami’s Emmy award-winning filmmaker behind Cocaine Cowboys and The U, will moderate the panel as they discuss the EDM boom, the future of DJ residencies, and if megaclubs have a future in Miami.

“I see nightlife being less about LED screens and more about theatrics and production,” David Grutman tells us. We caught up with the man behind LIV and Story before tonight’s panel. “It will be about the party not about the performer. The production will be key.”

Grutman, a University of Florida alum originally from Naples, Florida, has carved his spot in the top tier of the industry. If you’ve never been to his most famous joint, LIV, perhaps you’ve heard Kanye West name-drop him in “On Sight” (“Took her to the 'Bleau, she tried to sip the fountain/that’s when David Grutman kicked her out/but I got her back in and put my dick in her mouth”).

“For a Jewish kid from Naples, Florida, it was the biggest thing in the world to me,” Grutman says about his Yeezy cameo. “It still is.”

One big key to LIV’s success, according to Grutman, has been the club’s willingness to change along with its customer. “We have to constantly evolve and adapt. We have to look at everything from the underground to what kids are listening to in college, as that is what is going to become pop culture and commercial in the coming years. We don’t follow the trends; we set the trends by using that as a gauge for our upcoming programming.”

LIV opened its doors with Grutman as its captain in 2008, not exactly a banner year for the economy. The Fontainebleau had just undergone a massive renovation, and LIV was one of its new children.

Despite a real estate market in shambles and unemployment climbing, LIV not only survived; it thrived. “Even during the recession, people still want to let loose and have a release from reality,” Grutman says. “For the ones that did want it, we were there for them. We focused on giving guests the experience and value added by coming out to LIV.”

All these years later, there is one memory that stands out the most in Grutman’s mind. “Two years ago, Thanksgiving Sunday — everyone from Kanye, Puffy, Timbaland, Lil Wayne, DJ Khaled were performing onstage,” he recalls. “We didn’t even have room for Busta Rhymes to fit on the stage.”

Grutman and his peers will continue this conversation tonight at PAMM. Sadly, the panel is invite-only, but you’ll be able to watch along via the live-stream video below. Tune in at 8 p.m. to join the conversation.

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