Ever wondered who the first people in the club are and how they got there? Maybe they had dinner next door and after one too many drinks, needed a place to let loose and burn off all the calories they just consumed.
Or maybe they had dinner and drinks in the club. This is a trend we've been seeing. Downtown welcomed new after-hours spot, The Station, which will be serving food into the wee hours of the morning, and SoFi awaits the opening of The Flat, which will offer drinks and food in the form of verrines and be the pre-anything experience.
There's a veteran, however, who's been doing this for quite some time and has managed to keep it off the radar, filling the place as they launch their work week every Wednesday with a private dinner before opening up the club.
After a million-dollar renovation, Mansion has returned as one of Miami's prime nightlife destinations. Tourists who don't know any better and locals with stupid money to spend visit Mansion for nights of glamour, celebrity DJs, beautiful dancers, and a very expensive bottle price tag. Drinks are expensive, like 20 bucks a pop, so when we heard that they hosted private dinners and have been doing so for about eight months, we couldn't believe it.
The verdict? Truth.
The catch? It's all girls. Shocker.
About ten round tables with white linens are set-up in the back VIP bar area of the club, which you enter through a doorway that says "Naughty Girls Enter Here" in neon bright lighting. Naughty indeed. Ten girls to a table with a Chandon bottle as the centerpiece to each and one promoter per table make up the 100+ dinner party.
Our table included a few Asians by the name of Kamiko and friends looking for a little magic in the city, four locals, a very blond African-American who had quite interesting observations about the evening, and of course the promoter.
Another catch: You have to be invited by a promoter in order to attend. The Asians had been picked up over in Lincoln Road by the promoter looking to meet the ten-girl quota for the night. They barely spoke a word of English, but their looks and outfits seemed to fit the part. Skin-tight pants and corsets almost bursting open are what we can gather the fashion in Japan looks like at the moment. The locals were pant-less. Legs are the trend here. As are shimmery skin-tight dresses with heels that made them look the part the club means for them to play: models. Eye-candy models for the men who will fill up the club after-dinner in the search for a sweet ending to a bland night.
After a long while of waiting and many longneck champagne glasses, sharing plates of the first course finally arrived: a Caesar salad. We were told the catering was provided by Indian restaurant Guru, which happens to be right around the corner from Mansion. You see, they change it up every week, alternating between restaurants in what we can only assume is a promotion of some sort. Sometimes it's Red Steakhouse, sometimes it's a sushi restaurant, and sometimes, like tonight, it's Indian.
Although there isn't anything particularly Indian about a Caesar salad. One plate for nine hungry girls might cause for a scene out of Bad Girls Club, but then another plate of salad arrives "That's all we get? Salad?" one girls asks with good reason. Turns out party girls do like to eat. The salad is warm and tastes old, maybe because the croutons are stale and soggy. Naturally, the question of the night becomes when exactly was this catered?
Main course, also served family-style, or in this case stranger-style arrives: basmati rice with lentils, a vegetable dish, and fish with sofrito. None of these dishes can be explained by any of the servers because they don't know the Guru menu, since they are Mansion bartenders. The online menu also seems to lack dishes with a description matching what was served with the exception of the rice. Although these items are more Indian than our appetizer, there isn't a single a hint of heat or spice.
The rice with lentils is light fare, and has a subtle touch of lime, blending nicely with the oily vegetable dish that has carrots, broccoli, red peppers, onion, and cauliflowers. The fish, which at first glance is mistaken for chicken, tastes like cod, perhaps because it's overwhelmingly salty and fishy. The rich and pleasant sofrito is the highlight and perhaps the most Indian item of the meal, but even it can't camouflage the taste of the mystery fish. Hungry girls flock to the available options, going full throttle without even knowing what it is they are eating. Food is gone in no time.
"They used to bring more food before! What happened?" asks the dark blonde who is apparently a regular to these things. Uh, maybe the club and the restaurant realized that It was losing money feeding and inebriating 99 thirsty girls and one starving journalist for free. Or maybe they don't want to overfeed the prey to avoid from making them look the simplest amount of bloated and unappetizing to the animals coming to attack. "We're not Minnie Mouse. We don't wanna be anorexic," she speaks up. Note to blondie: go on with your bad self and get yourself a real dinner down the street.
Plates are cleared and champagne glasses filled as SBTRKT and Outkast boom through the sound system. No DJ is playing, and the party is yet to start, but the music during dinner is still of quality and variety. One girl takes a cigarette break at the table while we await dessert. Another advantage/disadvantage of dinner at the club; smoking is the palate cleanser between meals. Then dessert comes. Chocolate chip cookies. No one has questioned where the food they just ate has come from, or even commented on it.
Perhaps Guru should be given another try -- at the restaurant and with a menu that represents Indian cuisine.
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What happens next? No bill arrives. Instead, each girl puts out enough for just the tip (excuse the pun). A mere five dollars for dinner and bottomless Chandon, and are then escorted to a private table for more drinks.
So there you have it Miami, that's what you get for having dinner at Mansion rather than at home.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha