Miami is a funny place.
You can meet someone at after-hours, years later meet on a boat, and months year later find out you now work an office job together…at the age of 24. (True story.) The odds are if you like house music, we are either best friends, or our shoulders have at grazed each other’s at the bar or on the dance floor. (Maybe at Ultra or waiting in a bathroom line, too.)
Born in South Miami, I led a pretty normal childhood. But South Miami High rocked my world. My friends and I quickly learned what this city had to offer, and at sixteen, we would do class projects at the 24-hour Kinko’s just for the autonomy to attend anything Miami threw at us. We attended full moon parties on the beach (pre-smartphone). We got lost in downtown trying to find clubs (pre-GPS). I had a girl tell me once she was going to drum-and-bass parties mid-week and coming into school on no sleep. (We had different educational agendas.)
This was 2004 for you. “Ultra” was a word to be whispered in the hallways of high school, because it was not cool. It was a place for freaks and drug addicts. You were not going anywhere in life if you even spoke the word. My first Ultra in 2008, I remember two different graphic tees – “Make crack, not war,” and, “Got Meth?” – It was a bit more hardcore, a bit more raw back then.
So in 2006, I was legal to club at eighteen. The it-spot was Pawn Shop, a huge venue downtown. The diner tables, the elevated runway leading to a DJ booth. (What’s up DJ Cardi.) Further back, a cut-out school bus, and to the left a life-size airplane model layout. Even further back, a large room with long draping white curtains against black walls for a nighttime-daybed effect. It was two rooms, open-format. And if you know Alan from Space, yes, he was there in 2006 in his boy-scout uniform manning the front. (Some people never leave this place.)
One night, after Pawn Shop closed at 4am, my friends and I were determined to find something else to do. We asked a doorman, but where do we go? And as I see it now, this must be how most people discovered it – Club Space.
Since then, there’s been some other late-night options…Will Call? Nocturnal? Mecca, Corner, Eleven. Heart. If you “don’t want to go home,” there’s an array of choices now. But back then it seemed to be our only cue, and despite our pouty pleas, the doorman at Space rejected us. We missed the cutoff, being told that ladies 18+ are only allowed before 4am. Well, you can imagine our preparedness the following Saturday. Or the best preparation any 18-year-old could for a first-time sunrise on the terrace. (Ray the bartender has seen me grow up there. Another one that has stuck around through the years.)
I left for college, graduated from the University of Florida and have a Master’s degree from FIU. The path of education has kept me grounded, but I have soaked up Miami music as an airy home. I dance with the world and it dances back with me. After all these years, the music still speaks to me. I love this “Miami” music. I was led here, so I hope you enjoy my thoughts, my experiences, and my honest feedback.