Put Miami and clubbing in the same sentence and you'd be forgiven for thinking about that one week in March when the dance music family joins hands to party, oh and do a little bit of work, for the Winter Music Conference (WMC).
But a city with a metropolitan population of over 5 million people hardly lives or parties for just one week of marathon Tenaglia sets or Masters at Work bloc parties. Miami is one of the most vibrant US clubbing cities but finding the right vibe and sound isn't always so easy.
Much of the party scene is centered around South Beach, the iconic area of the city, locally referred to as "SoBe". It is here where you find the art deco hotels, the boutique shops, the six packs on the beach and of course endless bars, lounges and clubs. A typical South Beach clubbing experience involves lots of glam, lots of cash and lots of standing around in a queue trying to get into the club. However, because of this, there exists a counter culture that focuses on the music and ensuring a good vibe in place of high cover charges or strict door policies. We pick these places out near the start.
Yet, all that said, it is hard to ignore the significance of the WMC. A full Ibiza season jam packed into one week, the breeding ground for the year's killer tracks and the nursery for fledgling DJ careers; every bar, club, beach, hotel, and living room hosts a party. On that basis, we offer a selection of clubs that provide a constant source of quality music outside of conference season, meaning that places like Beach Plaza Hotel, Boom Box, Dream, The Fifth and Love don't appear.
Danny Tenaglia perhaps sums it up best: It's really only during WMC week that Miami truly shines musically on a global scale. For the past couple of years, Miami has really lacked the adventurous and diverse spirit that it had in the 90s and at the beginning of this decade. The clubs have gotten a lot more commercial and don't really push the boundaries with new sounds and DJs. It's become too much about the glam and money, which in turn has made the music being played at the clubs very simple and dull.
Check here I Voice / Miami WMC 2009 Special, Party Calendar & Latest News...
Undoubtedly the city’s most famous night spot, Space is located in downtown Miami and is the award winning jewel in the crown of the Miami, if not American, club scene. It has the first Alpha-Dynacord Sound System in the states and its large rooms have hosted parties featuring practically all major A list DJs and artists over the last decade. It is consistently ranked amongst the world’s top clubs in polls, which is largely thanks to the legendary terrace that sits atop the roof. If you’re trying to picture the vibe, think the old terrace at Space in Ibiza. Just one of those clubs you have tick off the list, albeit regularly criticises for being too mainstream.
Tip: An obvious one, but you’d be amazed how many people don’t bother doing this. Buying presale tickets will skip you past the HUGE line of people waiting to get in.
Erick Morillo: “Space Miami is a place for thumping house music all night long, and I mean all night. We did a subliminal party here for WMC 2007 and not even the rain on the terrace could stop the party carrying on till past 8am. This place rocks!”
Address: 34 NE 11 Street, Miami, FL 33132
Owned the by the Opium Group, who also run Opium Garden and Privé, this spot in the former Level nightclub space has 5 separate rooms that cater for a mixed clientele. If you do manage to get past the strict velvet rope policy, then you’d be greeting by a stunning interior akin to a palace ballroom that typically hosts mainstream dance parties for non-discerning clubbers.
However, the grandeur of the location means that Dubfire, Nic Fanciulli, Steve Angello & Sebastien Ingrosso and Deadmau5 have played there in recent months.
Tip: Try to get yourself on a paying guestlist to ensure entry
Steve Lawler: “The last time I played Mansion, I had reservations about it, because I’m not the biggest fan of table clubs, but before I went to the club, we had a very big conversation with the club, and the conformation of me playing there was depending on how many tables got removed. The gig at Mansion was absolutely amazing. Space is no longer a club for me anymore, it is too commercial with the people they are putting through there.”
Address: 1235 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Opened in 2008, The Vagabond made its presence felt straight away with Bedrock and Poker Flat records showcasing during WMC 2008 and since then it has established itself a small but dedicated following, mainly thanks to solid house bookings in the order of Lee Burridge and Louie Vega, the latter hosting a bi-monthly residency.
Louie Vega: “I'm very excited I finally have a place to call home (as a DJ) in Miami. The Vagabond is a very special place with a good sound system, great staff and the crowd is A Class. I have good feelings about this new hot spot in Miami. The Vagabond is the PLACE TO BE!!”
Address: 30 NE 14th St., Miami, FL 33132
One of Miami’s hidden gems and a bastion for quality house music. A futuristic style all in the colour - yep you guessed it – blue, provides a cosy spot for drinking, chatting but most of all dancing with likeminded music aficionados. Unpretentious, affordable, no South Beach attitude and best of all, guests like Stimming, Adultnapper and DJ Sneak make this a place to start the night and never leave.
Tip: If you’re looking for a midweek party, check this place out as there is a cutting edge live music every night of the week
Stimming: “This was a cool place to play, not like a stereotypical Miami club but more like a small bar or cool club you can find in Berlin or Frankfurt. The best aspect though, was that the crowd really knew their music.”
Address: 222 Espanola Way, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Phone: (305) 534-1009
Technoheads in Miami might have felt a little forgotten about since the closure of Studio A, so step forward White Room, a multi-purpose site used for arts, dance, exhibitions and club events, that has done its best to fill the gap in 2008. A main room that sees weekly Friday night minimal and techno excellence, courtesy of promoter P L O T, with previous guests of the calibre of Johnny D, Lee Curtiss, Jan Krueger and Bill Patrick.
Of course, there is also the obligatory open air space, this time in the form of a courtyard with private cabanas to take a moment’s peace from the full on main room electronica or, depending on the mood, get down under the stars. The 2009 conference sees more of the same underground essentials from Damian Schwartz, Anja Schneider and an exlcusive appearance from Jeremy P. Caulfield.
Tip: Check listings before you gig, as Saturdays can often see student type nights with indie music, which isn’t exactly minimal techno is it.
Jan Kreuger: “My first gig in Miami was October 2008 and I was really happy I did it with P L O T at white room; it was a really hot, sweaty, intimate club experience with a crowd clearly passionate about their music.”
Address: 1036 North Miami Avenue, Miami, FL 33136
Small, about 100 capacity, lounge in the design district of Miami, there is not too much to say about this place other than it provides low hassle, top quality underground sounds and for free!! The decor is quaint and cosy but don’t be mistaken by the intimacy and friendly atmosphere, this place goes off like a rocket when the minimal and techno fraternity get together and party.
Derek Plaslaiko, arguably New York’s finest resident, from The Bunker parties has played a couple of times, emphasising how serious the A21 fans are about their music.
Tip: Do your research, find out what amendment 21 is and impress the barman; it’ll probably end in a free drink.
Derek Plaslaiko: “When I first came to Miami for conference, I fucking hated it, just not my thing at all. My Gig at A21 was my first Miami gig outside WMC and it rocked, similar vibe to the Bunker parties in Brooklyn. It was full of people who are into techno but down to earth at the same time.”
Address: 190 NE 46 St. Design District, Miami FL 33137
Skybar is located at The Shore Club and consists of four different spaces: Redroom, Redroom Garden, Rumbar, and Sandbar. Redroom is an interior space with a modern feel, consisting of contemporary furniture, and hosts monthly deep house and minimal events from Soultech.
Tip: Check out the Rumbar, which (the clue is in the name) boasts a selection of 75 different rums.
Address: 1901 Collins Avenue Miami Beach, FL 33139
Phome: 305 695 3100
Just another average Miami club, which means glitz, glamour and more cash than you’d know what to do with. Despite being aimed at the finest of Miami’s botex and boob job citizens, expect to find quality underground shenanigans here, best shown by Autumn bookings of Paco Osuna, Marco Carola, Adam Beyer and Guy Gerber. WMC 2009 sees Radio Slave, Paolo Mojo and also drum n’ bass representation from Fabio & Grooverider, Benga and Shy FX.
Tip: Leave your prejudices at the door, even beautiful people can get down and dirty to techno.
Address: 90 NE 11th Street, Miami, FL 33132
Phone: (786) 425-3545
Located at 1 Ocean Drive, this large sun baskers paradise has become entwined into the beachlife and clubbing fabric of Miami and is the beach club that inspired a thousand others around the globe, including a dozen bearing the same name in places like Koh Samui and St.Tropez.
All year round it hosts electic (Friday), soul and house (Saturday) and r’n’b and hiphop (Sunday) but it is better known as the arguably the most sought after event space for WMC and was formerly the home of BBC Radio 1’s live broadcasts from there. For 2009’s event you can see Nic Fanciulli, Tiefschwarz, Johnny D, Robbie Rivera, James Zabiela, Axwell and a Body and Soul special with Joe Claussel, Danny Krivit and François K.
Tip: Despite the location, the club itself enforces a strict dress code meaning the beachwear is no-go. WMC events are usually held outdoor anyway, so anything goes.
Pete Tong recalls “We did the Radio 1 broadcast from Nikki Beach for many years and it was such a great location. 20,000 people under the sun, on the beach and a whole host of the hottest artists of the time. And best of all, it was free; a rarity for Miami.”
Address: One Ocean Drive, Miami, FL 33139
Located in South Beach, this is another smaller venue that makes up for it what it lacks in size with what it offers in terms of quality music. The places also oozes class, with erotic art and design based on the elements with abundant candles, water features and outdoor space with cabanas.
As for the music programming, well it ranks as one of the few places in Miami you can guarantee to find underground electronic music, albeit without the big names you might find elsewhere in South Beach. That said, Robert Babicz and John Acquaviva played in January 2009 and WMC brings Nick Curly, Simon Baker and the Secretsundaze crew.
Tip: If you are looking for a cheap night, stop here, there is rarely a cover charge.
Promoter Dirty Gruv reveal their plan to increase the profile of underground music in the city “We have run a night called “Techno encounters of the minimal kind”; it is the 1st in a new series of events featuring the best local up and coming techno/minimal artists and djs in Miami, which we feel are really underrepresented in the city.”
Address: 841 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139
PS14 is one of downtown’s hottest spot for house music. It is tiny but it offers an inexpensive and casual vibe, anathema to the clichéd posing Miami elite, but best of all is the eclectic music policy that covers the spectrum from indie to electronica to disco to classic house.
Featured nights have included Juan Atkins and Ryan Elliott, both outside of WMC season too. Finally, the cover charge is usually only a few dollars with drinks being half the price of South Beach establishments.
Tip: Despite the laid back vibe and intimate charm, entry on the big and busy nights can be tricky. So sort a guestlist before you go.
Address: 28 NE 14th St, Miami, FL 33132
|Black Sheep Bar
In the heart of South Beach geographically, but a million miles in terms of its values, this bar also doubles as local hangout, launderette, internet café and serious live music venue.
Intimate, bohemian, free to get into and offering true underground music ranging from minimal through to dubstep or hiphop and back round to house and techno. No big names to talk about particularly, but quality of music is not compromised.
Tip: Take your washing to be cleaned whilst you club. No, really.
Address: 721 N. Lincoln Lane, Miami, FL 33139
Phone: (305) 531-7700
This 1000 capacity, three level club is one of Miami’s finest purpose built venues. The club also boasts a high grade tech finish, including a Funktion-One soundsystem, custom desgined mixers, Final Scratch and automated sound monitoring.
Regardless of the technology, Nocturnal club has become one of the bastions of quality underground techno music in the city, especially through the Friday night Techvision and We Love Techno parties. This gigs as well as showcasing the best in local talent has seen Marco Carola and more progressive DJs such as Max Graham.
Tip: Dance as the sunrises from the spectacular rooftop terrace
Address: 50 NE 11th Street, Miami, FL 33132
B.E.D. meaning Beverage, Entertainment, Dining, this small restaurant / club space in the middle of South Beach provides a touch of class to your clubbing experience.
Expect to find comfy cushions and pillows everywhere as well an intimate dancefloor area with interesting video projections.
Typically busiest around WMC time where you’ll find Danny Howells, the SOS boys and Darren Emerson for 2009.
Tip: For extra privacy, pull a drape around your table whilst dining.
Address: 929 Washington Avenue, Miami, FL 33139
|Karu & Y
Any venue that costs over $20 million to build deserves a mention, so here’s to Karu & Y architect Pepe Calderin’s 25,000 square foot venture, compromising restaurant, ultra lounge, club and impressive gardens.
Despite being a regular venue for promotional events and exhibitions, it still houses some fairly large scale dance music events in its Buddha Club, inckluding from the likes of Erick Morillo, Tiefschwarz and Victor Calderone.
Miami 2009 sees Minus with Richie Hawtin, an OM Records party with Sneak and Mark Farina as well as two Made Event bashes featuring Above & Beyond, Adultnapper and Christopher Lawrence.
Anthony Pappa describes Karu & Y as “one of Miami's most stunning downtown destinations, which almost has to be seen to be believed. Although it is not normally the style of club I typically play in around the world, there was an electric vibe the night I played during WMC.”
Tip: An extended licence means the venue stays open very late, so it’s ideal for one more drink.
Address: 71 NW 14th St., Miami, FL 33136
Next door to Space, this venue is the former the Miami Twilo, the lesser known but equally seminal offspring of the notorious New York club. Moreover, when I say it is Twilo, I mean it, as the interior is so similar to the former club that you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d gone back a couple of years.
The large, dark warehouse like space, the boshing sound system and trippy lights – it is all there. In line with this, the programming harks to dons of solid house and techno such as Adam Beyer, Danny Tenaglia, Armin Van Buuren, Robbie Rivera and Dubfire. Proper clubbing, but a nice price too unfortunately, up to $20 for a long drink.
Adam Beyer: “When I played at Park West, it was in the side room called Rehab, which was great because it was like another world from the main room. Much tighter, crazy lights, up for it crowd; perfect for some dark techno music.”
Address: 30 NE 11 Street, Miami, FL 33132
Another club from the Opium Group, SET is perhaps the pick of their flock with a 600 capacity 2 room powerhouse incorporating all the latest sound and light technology. Prime location on Lincoln Road in the heart of South Beach and a main room that was once a theatre, makes this venue a premier clubbing destination for both DJs and dancing feet alike.
In the last year, for example, Sasha, Mark Knight and the Swedish House Mafia have all graced the pulpit like DJ booth. For Miami 2009, Defected host a special event with Louie Vega and there are events with Bob Sinclar, Fedde Le Grand, Roger Sanchez and Todd Terry.
Tip: Check out the innovative podiums for the dancers.
Address: 320 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Phone: 305 5312800
Located where Miami Crobar once stood, Cameo and it’s upstairs bar, Vice, often a fairly mainstream clubbing experience but with that added Miami touch of glamour and panache.
Whilst the main room plays commercial music, Vice provides an interesting house and eclectic variation for South Beach clientele. Don’t expect big names, but don’t let that get in the way of a decent night out.
For WMC 2009, the club has specials from Sharam, Ferry Corsten and Armin Van Buuren.
Tip: Like most places in Miami, drinks don’t come cheap, at least $12-15 typically. Save yourself a few bucks by giving non-branded spirits a try.
Address: 1445 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Phone: 305 532 2667
The eponymous outdoor club of the Opium group and as you’d expect, it offers a rather swanky venue housing contemporary asian style buddahs and huge statues along with an elegant restaurant.
Most of the club nights are mainstream based dance and hiphop nights aimed at the finely dressed jetsetters who frequent this popular and well established Miami dancing shop.
WMC 2009’s special is from MN2S with Armand Van Helden, Todd Terry and Kurd Maverick.
Tip: This club is well known in the city, so it can get busy at the door; put on your glad rags and go in mixed groups to make sure you make it inside.
Address: 136 Collins Avenue, Miami, FL 33139
|Shine, Shelbourne Beach Resort
Opened in 2005, Shine is located in the Shelbourne Beach Resort, one of South Beach’s most famous hotels. A multi-room and mutli-purpose venue in itself, Shine regularly hosts promotional events, modelling shows and of course club nights. The different size rooms mean the experience varies from intimate soulful house to full on main room hands-in-the-air trance, and Shine possesses one of the strongest programming schedules away from conference time. Recently Nick Warren, Dave Seaman, Dennis Ferrer and Anthony Pappa have all played.
At WMC in 2009, the roster is phenemonal, with day and night events for the full week, including Luciano, Sasha, Danny Tenaglia (10 hours), Loco Dice, David Guetta, Dubfire, Josh Wink, Club Shelter and Sander Kleinenberg.
Tip: This is a proper clubbing experience, make your way to the sunken dancefloor and stay there.
Address: 1801 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Phone: (305) 531-1271
Gigantic new superclub in downtown Miami that comprises five clubs in one; Area 51, Allure, Discotekka, Forbidden Room and Whiskey. There is something for everything inside although the sheer size of the place often means room can feel empty and the crowd is so varied that the atmosphere misses any sense of shared experience.
The music policy is mainstream at best, downright unbearable at worst, although drum n’ bass seems disproportionately well represented amongst the occasional dance music only events.
Tip: Check a big night when Area 51, the outdoor bit, fills up with nearly 8,000 people.
Address: 950 NE Second Ave, Miami, FL 33132
Phone: (305) 415-0000
Not a club at all but a well known hotel on Collins; yet it demands inclusion here for being home to some the hottest WMC parties over the last few years, including being BBC Radio 1’s home for the now legendary pool party live broadcast.
This year is no exception with Pete Tong, Steve Lawler, M.A.N.D.Y., Timo Maas and James Zabiela.
Address: 1717 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139
|Hed Kandi Lounge
No surprises for guessing what this club is all about. Opened in 2008, this is the first Hed Kandi venture in the US and has all the bubblegum dance values you’d expect from the brand, only that this is Miami’s South Beach, so it’s an extreme version.
Ultimately this means you pay handsomely for your drinks to hear the funky house music Hed Kandi now represents.
Address: 1200 Washington Ave., Miami, FL 33139
Phone: 305. 695.1998
The most popular gay club in Miami with a decent capacity of about 1000, making it very popular with the muscle beach boys and girls who each have their own rooms inside, just in case you forget who you’re meant to be attracted to.
The music is the typical mesh of commercial dance and r’n’b with latin booty shakers to spice things up. Not a proper club, but nowhere near as offensive as some of the other South Beach dens of pretentiousness, at least it’s more entertaining here.
Address: 727 Lincoln Road & Meridian Ave, Miami, FL 33139