The VICE Guide to Miami: Music and Nightlife
Photo by Christina Arza


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The VICE Guide to Miami: Music and Nightlife

Much like the Colombian women flirting with the bouncer, Miami's nightlife scene gets frequent facelifts. But nevertheless, Miami remains a world-renown clubbing destination.

Much like the Colombian women flirting with the bouncer, Miami's nightlife scene gets frequent facelifts. It's not unusual for a club or venue to open, gain a strong following, and suddenly close a few years later. Some don't even make it past the 12 month mark, or even the six. Suffice to say, it's tough in these streets, and competition is stiff. Despite the here-today, gone-tomorrow nature of most of its institutions, Miami remains a world-renown nightlife destination. While the names and faces of clubs may change, the hunger of locals and tourists for after-hour diversions remains insatiable. Our clubs are open until 5 AM across the board, and some of them never close—ever. Head to these spots to get your dance on, or to see some live music. But please, do your coke in the bathroom, and unroll your dollars before tipping your bartender.


South Beach
This is it, the Vice City capital that Will Smith sang about. This is where models and Madonna often flock, where mobsters ran megaclubs, and where most visitors spend most of their time. Truth be told, they're not in Miami. The City of Miami Beach is its own municipality, and it's actually an island unto itself, totally man-made 100 years ago. Naturally, it's here you'll find the most illustrious EDM party palaces. LIV is one of the world's most famous VIP-centric clubs, a haven for both big room house DJs and hip-hop superstars. It's where Calvin Harris kicked out that "dumb fucking bitch." Drake sings about it in "305 to My City." It's sister club Story is just as opulent, but caters to a deeper taste in house. South Beach used to be the home of Mansion nightclub, where DJ Shadow was kicked off the decks for being "too future," but Mansion has since shut down and was reopened as Icon Nightclub, though it still caters to beefcakes in Cuban links and their bottle rats.

Those looking for a cheaper, dive-ier, music-first dance experience are better off heading to Trade, Treehouse, or Do Not Sit on the Furniture, which is lined with gold-painted cassette tapes and stuffed full of people dancing so hard they heed the warning. Downstairs from Trade, you'll find a bunch of hunky gay dudes dancing to Beyonce at Score. Another LGBTQ favorite is the multi-roomed Twist, which does have the dirtier (in a sexy way) reputation.


The Electric Pickle Co., photo by Christina Arza

Many of the historic hotels on Washington and Collins avenues have been renovated to include top-tier discotheque's. FDR at the Delano is famous for it's wild, celebrity-infested hip-hop Mondays. Across the street, The Gale Hotel's Rec Room fits a house party vibe between its vinyl-lined walls. Basement at the Edition has become a SoBe crown jewel thanks to its neon-lit bowling alley and ice skating rink. And each month more parties find homes a the new dance floors at the Thompson and The 1 Hotel rooftop. Elsewhere, there's Audiotheque, probably the only experimental music space of its kind. It's an intimate venue on South Beach that regularly brings in avant-garde musicians from around the world. The acoustics in the space are unbeatable, perfect for jamming out to sound art. You could walk up and down SoBe's main drags and find a million places to blow your cash, but be prepared to spend silly amounts of money wherever you go. Parking alone can set you back $40, and a humble Heineken can run $16. Gratuity is often included on the beach, so make sure you're not too drunk to check before you sign. No one said Big Pimpin' was easy.

Photo by Ian Patrick O'Connor

If you want to have a good time and money left over for snacks, you're better off across the bridge with the locals of Miami Proper. One thing that SoBe and the mainland have in common is a strong preference for dance music, all styles and BPMs. If seven hours of drug-fueled oblivion is your prerogative, you're likely to end up Downtown or in the Wynwood arts district. Wynwood is Miami's hippest emerging hood, so expect all the trappings that suggests. Top dogs in those streets are the The Electric Pickle Co. (locals just call it "The Pickle), where house and techno reign, or Bardot, home of cutting-edge indie, disco, and future beats. Coyo Taco is a new joint that serves Mexican finger food with a dope, 100-person "club" in the back. We suggest the fish tacos with a side of Murk Mondays, an always-packed party hosted by Oscar G and Lazaro Casanova that'll get your week off on the right foot. A few blocks away in Downtown, most of the action circles the 24-hour district between Northeast First and North Miami Avenue on the Northeast 11th Street block. Club Space was the first to plant a flag, and with it's 24-hour liquor license, made the all-day district possible. It only operates on Saturdays, but it's the only place to catch a marathon set from someone like Eric Prydz as the sun rises. Heart Nightclub is its sister spot, open for business on Fridays. Next door, The Hangar is gaining a reputation for great intimate shows from rappers and DJs alike, and nearby Libertine's hip lounge atmosphere keeps the party going Thursday through Sunday from 11 PM "'till whenever." Across the street is E11even, the megaclub-meets-strip club that never closes, no matter the hour, day, or weather conditions. It's pretty wild. You've got to see it to believe it. (Read more about it in our Where to Drink section). Festival Season
In Miami, summer is a dead zone. It's too hot for anyone but locals to stand the pit stains, but as soon as October comes around, the snowbirds start landing, and things really come to life. Things kick off in early October with III Points Art, Music, and Technology festival. With three years behind it, it's young, but it's making waves, putting headliners from Jamie XX to Run the Jewels, AlunaGeorge, and Duke Dumont on top of a stacked local lineup designed to show off our homegrown talent. Early December is the time of Art Basel Miami Beach, an international art show that spawned 20-plus satellite fairs and more giant concerts and high-profile after-parties than anyone could have ever imagined. Of course, the big daddy rager is in late March when Ultra Music Festival takes over the heart of the city. For three days, that behemoth grabs the city by the balls, totally overshadowing the Winter Music Conference that inspired it. UMF even branded its own week of celebrations, Miami Music Week, the new catch-all term for the nearly-endless array of satellite parties and label showcases popping off all over South Beach and Miami proper. The whole EDM industry comes to Miami that week. If you like partying at all, it's something to see.

Photo by Ian Patrick O'Connor

Hang the DJ
Maybe you hate dance music. It's weird that you're in Miami, but whatever. Our beautiful beaches don't discriminate. If you want to drink and listen to rock music, there are places you can find solace. Churchill's in Little Haiti, which we blurbed in the Where to Drink section, is a favorite of Iggy Pop and has offered mud-covered punk rockers a sub-tropic place to call home since 1979. Wood Tavern has a pretty diverse range of tunes—everything from New wave to '90s hip-hop—although it's been discovered by mainstream crowds, so prepare to wait in line. If you want to feel the heat of Latin rhythms, head to Little Havana and check out the live musicians at Hoy Como Ayer, where salsa reigns supreme, or have a drink and a dance at cozy Ball and Chain. Less authentic but also very fun is the dinner show at El Tucan, where you can enjoy steak and burlesque at the same damn time. If you're not too white, get your bachata on at Club Tipico Dominicano in Allapattah. La Covacha is off the beaten path in the warehouse district of Doral, but it's one of the best places in town to dance with locals to salsa, merengue, and vallenato. If you're stuck on the beach and looking for something with an infectious beat, head to Mango'sTropical Café. It's a bit of a tourist trap, but the dinner show is fantastic, and honestly, every local has done it at least once. Family Friendly
If you're in town with your parents or just love Big Ticket pop shows, there are a few places you can head to satisfy all age groups. The American Airlines Arena is both where the Heat and superstars like Adele play. The Klipsch Amphitheater at Bayfront Park is a great place to catch an open-air show, and the beautiful Adrienne Arsht Center frequently brings great musicals, bands, and jazz performers for a more highbrow audience. Across the Bay on the Beach is the 2,000-capacity Fillmore at the historic Jackie Gleason Theater, complete with an intimate space in back for drag shows and other frivolities. Across the street is the New World Symphony, which often projects its classical concerts and other performances outside for free. A lot of free shows also go down at the North Beach Bandshell, which actually books a lot of fantastic local and nationally-touring acts, so check their site when you come to town.