Photo Courtsey of Dan Vidal
Miami is one of those places I had been to before and swore I would never go back. With hospitals advertising wait lines, people renting fancy cars just to drive up the strip, and non-jiggly fake boobs and asses surrounding me (yes… big, bizarre, Brazilian butts), I used to yack at the outright materialism. But as Canadian spring break came around and I got invited on a road trip to the sun, I "FOMO'd" and packed my bags. $300 in the bank, a skimpy bikini, couch surfing hosts on lock and 160 GB of tunes, I was ready to experience Miami again… hobo style.
First off, driving straight to Miami sucks. For years I've been fed the false imagery of shining sun, windows rolled down and the possibility of running into psychos who would invite me to dinner. I'm sad to say I drove 2,389.2 km and all I got was a lousy kink in my neck.
Arriving to our South Beach abode at peak pre-hour, 9 PM, we gathered the troops: Red Bull, tequila and vodka. Pounding back some much-needed loose juice, slapping on some watermelon deodorant (my personal man catcher), and squeezing into my tightest pair of high waist jeans, I was ready.
As any experienced traveler does, we hit the streets to figure out where the place to be was. After a few minutes of walking aimlessly, we decided the biggest partiers must naturally reside in Subway sandwich shops. We were right. After the sandwich artist encouraged us to go to Space Miami, he smiled, looked at his watch and uttered words that left me dumfounded, "You should probably shower and get ready now."
Excuse me? I took a whole 15 minutes to get ready! You want me to wear a dress and heels? We're definitely not in Kensington Market anymore. Four hippie chicks and one pair of heels, isn't that the theme of the week.
Space was Miami's version of The Guvernment. With three massive rooms, multiple styles of music and the eerie wafting waves of dementors at 3 AM, we felt instantly at home. Except for a few minor differences:
1.) Dancing in a skin tight dress to techno should be illegal.
2.) In Toronto, men in dress shirts are the losers; here they're the norm.
3.) People in Miami know how to move! The footwork skills had me in awe for hours.
Over the next few days, we juggled between 11 AM wake up calls, hanging at the beach until 5 PM, eating copious amounts of ceviche, empanadas and tacos and partying our faces off… for free. Yes, free. A concept only given to the privileged in Toronto is simply a task of beauty and know how in Miami. Free entry, booths, booze and babes were a plenty as we navigated our way around. Visiting Set, Story, Mokai, SL, E11even, Bardot, Electric Pickle, Treehouse, Do Not Sit On the Furniture, Mansion, Wonderland and Mekka we quickly realized the key features about Miami. I'll let you in on the know.
First, you have two types of clubs: the heels/dress shirts or flats/t-shirt types. They both play amazing music, but if you're looking to get deals on bottles, you better get spiffy. For heels and dress shirts, we recommend Set and Story, for flats and t-shirts we recommend Electric Pickle, Bardot and Treehouse.
Second, the materialism. Yes it's gross. Yes, it irked me to no end. Yes, concepts such as bottle fairies and sexist neon signs exist everywhere. But unless you're a tacky tourist, no one actually cares. The locals don't even notice and the performers are just there to make bank (and holy crap do they ever). Miami's brand is sex; we just have to deal with it.
Third are the afterhours. Most clubs are open until at least 5 AM, but if you're looking for more of an ideal groove time, your options are mainly limited to strip clubs. With that being said, there is only one spot that will have a special place in my heart forever. Mekka is Miami's Comfort Zone. And it was perfect. In fact, they provided some of the best music I had experienced all week. An afterhours at heart, with sexualities covering the rainbow, Mekka is different. It is an afterhours done right. Walking in at 5 AM, I was surrounded by an amped crowd and music that shocked me. The venue was no where near dead. On stage was a beautiful percussion set up, with drums, a woodblock, and a talented musician playing Latin and tribal rhythms live to a DJ spinning house beats. It was stunning.
Miami—you tacky son of a bitch. I tried to hate you, I tried to deny your materialistic ways, but instead I was sucked in to your fantasy world. You're not real and I know that now. To be fair, that's why I began to love you. With locals who party every night, a non-existent nine to five work schedule and unanimous mindset of living in the temporary, it is the modern, Latin version of Tangier. I can't wait to go back, until then, party on.