The upcoming socio-cultural season is taking shape, and gradually Miami is beginning to seem like a valid place to live, something more than just the hot bottom of the earth. Things are beginning to happen. The new Tony Chan's Water Club restaurant at The Grand, in the space formerly occupied by Andiamo, which is set to open at the end of October. The new restaurant/club across the street from the News Cafe, in the upstairs shopping mall space, that will be opening this winter (at a reported lease price of $16,000 per month). The ongoing Club Nu/Diane Siquier empire story. In partnership with Mario Alayon of Garage South Beach, Siquier has opened a retro/straight/gay disco, Wednesday nights only, at the old Horatio's restaurant along the Rickenbacker Causeway. And Club Nu - already host to Siquier's AM/PM (Saturdays beginning at 4:30 a.m.), as well as the one-nighters Another World (Fridays) and Genesis (Saturdays) - will be opening as a new "cool, casual, industrial, elegant" club on October 12. Siquier, who will serve as director of operations, will only reveal that an "unnamed celebrity and his investment group" have taken over the lease on the space.

It's the season for hype, big plans, delusions, and hustles, the time when everything feels within reach, bright with promise. The ultimate new club that will blow everything else away. The stunning ballet/charity ball/concert/theme party/play/revue that will forever ensure one's place in the firmament of fabulousness. It's the season for the triumph of hope over experience, and once again, the hopeful are hustling.

Louis Canales, South Beach nightlife impresario: "I'm working on a couple of restaurants, and I might be getting involved with some other clubs. Semper's? Stephan Johanson leased the club and the Bandanna Cafe to John Becker and Ernie Bogean. Ernie did Big Kahuna and America in New York. They're planning to bring together Semper's and the lobby space and make it into one big club. Everything's supposed to open November 1st. I'll be leaving after the transition period.

"The whole scene now is pretty boring. Everybody is just copying each other. The gay market, in particular, is really overexploited.... Right now I'm in a period of gestation, experimenting, trying to avoid that Hippodrome/Butter Club hype thing where you keep raising people's expectations and then eventually, no one cares. I'm just going to see what's going on, wait, and then move in the opposite direction, make things jive and happen."

Toby Lerner Ansin, board member, Miami City Ballet: "We open September 26th at the Dade County Auditorium, with a party afterwards at the Colonnade Hotel. We're doing the Joe's Stone Crab dinner again this year, on October 9th. Northern Trust Bank is going to host an artists circle party - for our $1000 and above donors - in November. And our big, big, top-secret fund raiser will be at the end of the season in April, for the debut of Jewels. But the most exciting thing, of course, is the level of the dancing."

Lee Schrager, co-owner of Torpedo, director of catering for Hotel InterContinental:"At the hotel, the same balls with new faces: the Orange Bowl coronation gala, the Red Cross Ball, the Opera Ball, the Fete Francaise, that big Paris/Miami thing for the Community Alliance Against AIDS.

"At Torpedo, the Nuisance Abatement Board has closed their case against us and deemed us free to be drug free. The Annex Bar will be officially opening up soon, and we're going to continue kareoke nights and the barbecues on Sunday. ESP? I'm just waiting to see what Gary James is coming up with. My shares were supposed to be bought by Mickey Rourke, who's like his best friend, but as of today, nothing has happened. All in all, I think it's going to be a quieter, simpler season."

Woody Graber, public relations consultant for Egoiste and the Island Club: "We've got Crystal Waters coming again on October 5th at Egoiste. And we're putting together plans for a major South Beach model-search night with prizes; we'll probably get started in the middle of October and go on until the end of the year. Monday nights at the Island Club? Carlos Menendez is still the DJ and we still have lines out the door at midnight. You don't mess with success."

Terry Zarikian, director of product development for the Grand Bay Hotel: "Regine's should be opening again this winter; the business is more seasonal now. No big changes. Why change the format when there are no other clubs in the Grove? Regine should be here in October to work on the opening. We'll be doing another big-as-usual New Year's Eve party. Things are happening, but I guess nothing has really changed."

Joe Delaney, promoter of Disco Inferno:Gary James and I are looking for another venue to do an Avenue A kind of thing. It's going to be entertainment, not purely nostalgia like Disco Inferno, something they haven't been exposed to before. Everybody wants a big place, nice, with an upscale Wall Street crowd, like Tatou in New York. But I don't think there are enough nice people down here to fill a place like that. Look at Egoiste: after a few months, they wound up doing a college night, Y-100 kind of stuff. Who knows? Clubs open and close, it's the same job."

Lenore Toby, director of development, Concert Association of Florida: "We hope it'll be the biggest season yet. The first concert is going to be Demetri Hvorostovsky. That's September 29th. On October 26th, Cole Porter's 100th birthday, we're going to have a special concert with the Joe Harnell orchestra. The Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre is coming in February, and we're also going to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Prestige Series this season with the ultimate quartet - Isaac Stern, Emanuel Ax, Yo-Yo Ma, Jaime Laredo - followed by a patrons-only party afterwards."

Danny Garcia, Antenna columnist: "I just finished this article for Details about South Beach; it should be out in November. It's like a guide. I mentioned about ten restaurants, places to shop, clubs - you know, Warsaw, Boomerang, Le Loft. Keeping up on the clubs is hard. New gay clubs? I think all of them are gay already. The question is: are there going to be any straight ones left?"

Mirella Gonzalez, manager of Teatro de Bellas Artes: "The next show is a comedy, Tiempos Dificiles, that opens September 28th. Hilarious. It's about Cuba in the Sixties, difficult times in Cuba now. No men dressed as women, regular show. Runs until December. Then La Cage Aux Folles, part two. It's a comedy, adaptation in Spanish. Oh sure, men dressed as women. Hilarious.

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