A Spirited Rundown of Opium Group Nightclubs in Miami

You often hear celebrities and other bon vivants talking about what goes on "in the club," as if there’s just one club, and you’re supposed to know what it is. But the truth is, there are a half-dozen or so "clubs" of the VIP/bling bling variety in every major city. In Miami, many of these are run by the Opium Group, and, on the occasion of the grand reopening of SET on Lincoln Road (complete with zipline champagne delivery), we’ve taken the liberty of wrapping them up in Top List form for your perusing pleasure. Making your nightlife better. It’s what we’re all about. Continue to A Spirited Rundown of Opium Group Nightclubs in Miami

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This Week’s Miami Happenings: Bâoli, Dylan’s Candy Bar, Mansion

WEDNESDAY: French Turns Japanese
Bâoli’s executive chef, Gustavo Vertone, has brought on his sushi counterpart directly from across the street.  Formerly of Nobu, Chef Fnu “Danie” Armandani, is turning out some finger-licking good rolls using lux ingredients like Kobe beef, truffles, and caviar. As if Bâoli’s notorious Wednesday night “My Boyfriend is Out of Town” shindigs weren’t reason enough to drop in on this French debauchery central, we now have a BâoliRoll to keep us salivating.
Bâoli (1906 Collins Ave., South Beach) is now serving sushi. For details, check out the listing in BlackBook Guides.

NOW: Sweet Stuff
What’s sugar and spice and everything nice? Dylan’s Candy Bar on Lincoln Road. Get your glucose fix at the newly opened mecca of one mega toothache. Worry not, you Kosher, gluten-free, sugar-free, and nut-free candy enthusiasts. Dylan’s got you covered, too.
Dylan’s Candy Bar (801 Lincoln Rd., South Beach) is now open. For details, read the listing in BlackBook Guides.

FRIDAY: Mad Spinster
Local heavy-hitter DJ Craze and six-time DMC World DJ champion will take over the decks at Mansion with a new monthly residency kicking off this Friday. Putting his own spin on Top 40 jingles, DJ Craze is set to get shiz poppin’ on his home turf  until the end of February.  
DJ Craze is spinning at Mansion (1235 Washington Ave., South Beach) every Friday until the end of February. See the complete listing at BlackBook Guides.

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Getting Illicit with Natalia Kills

There’s something deliciously illicit about Natalia Kills. Even if the English singer’s name didn’t evoke a villainess from some outtake of The Avengers, one gets the impression the lass would be just as comfortable running a con or plotting a heist, as she is pulling a Machiavelli on the pop world. Then there’s that whole murderous girl thing she’s got goin’ on; an explicit lethality which can be found in both the sound of her single “My Boyfriend,” and the visions of her Love Kills xx video series, in addition to the very name itself. On the terrace of South Beach’s Catalina Hotel on Thursday night, just hours before Kills took her stand at Mansion, it was all I could do to not ask her if she’d like to go knock off a bank.

But Kills is far too single-mindedly determined to be sidetracked by something that could keep her outta circulation for even a couple moments, let alone a few years. See, that might foil her plans for world domination. And make no mistake, this unequivocal young lady is definitely going global—or else.

While where Kills is going may be clear, it’s a lot harder to pinpoint where she’s come from. Born to a Jamaican father and a Uruguayan mother, and raised primarily in the Gunshine State (Miami and Jacksonville), she’s spent the last couple of years lighting fires around LA. Her “wish,” though, is to move to the Big Bad Apple, and soon. “There isn’t anything wrong with Los Angeles,” she says. “It’s just time for New York.” Perhaps she simply needs a bigger city to core?

When prompted, Kills calls herself “English.” Noting her heritage, however, she may just as well claim citizenry of the wild world she seems so keen to conquer. Like many a bright mind, Kills is the kinda Benetton kid Tibor Kalman undoubtedly had in his head when he created the incomparable Colors. A cross-pollination of creed and culture as compelling as it is adroit. Otherwise known as: our future.

In other words, Kills has got it goin’ on, even if her Wiki page has it all wrong. She does NOT share a name with her mother, nor has she been in a succession of British soap operas. Kills isn’t from Persia either, though she “has great respect” for the people and the place.

The last time Kills hit South Beach, she opened for Robyn at The Fillmore. This time, as mentoined, she soloed at Mansion, one of the most renowned dance emporiums on The Strip. Prior to that, there was a mad two nights in New York, where she pulled off appearances at both the Standard and Bowery hotels, as well as an exclusive on the 48th floor of the Atlas. By the time you read this, Kills will be in arenas opening for Katy Perry before she crosses back over the pond to retake the continent.

Face to face, Kills is forthright, forthcoming and utterly assured. Yes, “My Boyfriend” is about a real someone. No, she didn’t kill him. She is “grateful” though that their six-year relationship turned out so badly. Otherwise, her album “would be all rainbows, and who the hell wants to hear that?” Kills is also extremely grateful to French director Guillaume Doubet, the Love Kills accomplice who taught her the tricks of the the cinematic trade and gave her the opportunity to be on both sides of the camera. “I learned so much shooting that series,” she says. “Mostly, I learned that I could direct too. I just had to do it.”

Forget for a minute Nike’s now-overexposed slogan, because before there was such a thing as kicks campaigns, there were people for whom “just do it” was simply who and what they were. Count Natalia Kills among that worthy roster. Or else.

Photo by Jeffrey Delannoy.

Calling On a Kingpin Named Afrojack

Dutch DJ/Producer Afrojack was undoubtedly meant for big things. Born in the small town of Spijkenisse in Holland, he was raised with some of the core values a big-city kid might not get. Considering that small town lies just outside the largest port in Europe (Rotterdam), it makes sense that he came up thinking about the vastness of the whole wild world. Furthermore, there’s the revolutionary legacy of Erasmus, de Kooning, and Koolhaas to consider. A legacy that now lives on in the beat of the deep, dark night. Add the fact that Afrojack himself is a full six-foot, nine-inches of unmitigated talent and, well, you get the idea.

But big things only come to those who grab them, and for the past year and change Afrojack has been out grabbing with all the gusto a go-getter can manage. TTen singe-ful singles in 2010, and another rage-crazed eight this year alone, not including Pitbull’s #1 “Give Me Everything” (along with Ne-Yo and Nayer). Then there’s his hectic DJ schedule. When Afrojack last hit Miami, he boothed up at LIV, and on Saturday he was back in town at Mansion for a sold out show. I caught up with the man born Nick van de Wall at the W South Beach, where he was ensconced in a sky-high penthouse duplex perfectly befitting his position as a DJ kingpin.

Like all kingpins, Afrojack traveled with a rather large entourage. It consisted of a childhood pal, a Vegas club owner, and another half-dozen or so swells of various notoriety. Despite being about to face thousands upon thousands of rabid dance fans at Mansion, the Dutch DJ was completely cool, calm and collected. Almost too cool. Then again, he’s already faced enough rabid dance fans to fill a few stadiums, and we’re just talking about this month.

Out under the stars of South Beach on that exquisitely-appointed W balcony, Afrojack chatted about getting with Pitbull (“His manager reached out to me… I went into the studio and did my thing”), learning their track had topped the pop charts (“I was on a plane to Miami and my manager emailed me the news”), the rapid-fire mouthpiece’s way and wile (“I’m pretty sure that Pitbull knows just what he’s doing at all times”), and how the song they did together gets spun “everywhere” he goes, even Lollapalooza (which Afrojack played on Friday), Tomorrowland, and Electric Daisy in Vegas.

We chatted about other powerhouse DJs such as David Guetta (“he’s like my best friend”) and Pete Tong (“he’s like a role model”), and how the latter continues to kickoff each and every weekend “not just in the UK,” but across the entire continent. “Everyone who listens to dance music in Europe listens to [Tong’s] Radio One show.”

We chatted about mixing it up (“I ask them what kind of remix they need, whether it’s a radio remix, club remix or whatever; then I listen to the track to see how it feels, see if I even want to do it), and what’s coming up (“I’m actually working on a track with Cee Lo Green“), and how Afrojack was really keen on getting back into the studio this September in order to record his first proper LP, which will be released on his own Wall Recordings. Also slated to appear will be Pitbull (“we’ve got to do a followup”), Leona Lewis (“I really like her voice”) and DJ R3hab (“he’s like my protege of sorts, and he’s killing every remix right now”). Among those remixes R3hab is killing is “Judas” by Lady Gaga, who just so happens to be on Afrojack’s wish list. The way things are kicking for the DJ kingpin though, one may as well switch that wish list to one that simply says “to do.”

Photo by dhArma.

White Noise Opens With a Little Help From Our Friends

In the ending scene of the season 1 finale of Mad Men, the greatest show ever to grace television, Donald Draper explains to the Kodak dudes he is pitching to, the importance of words like “new” and “nostalgia.” “The Carousel” scene should be Youtubed over and over by anyone trying to connect with their clients, or trying to sell anything. I played it outright to the team at Webster Hell when I was explaining what I was going to do with their place. It sold them better than any power point presentation or artistic rendering could have. The balance of the old, the familiar, the warm and the fuzzy, the nostalgic with the “new” is often an important part of my design approach. When Luke Brian Sosnowski and Timothy Falzone approached me about their new spot, White Noise, even the overly optimistic me had to laugh. They had virtually no money (around $25,000), a big space with high ceilings, and they needed to get it open by mid August. They wanted to open up White Noise as a rock ‘n’ roll bar. It was to be a saloon, a joint, a haven. It was to be true to that school— evoke the sweet nostalgia and gritty bond that rockers, and bikers, and strippers, and sluts, and Jack, and beer, and all that other stuff that goes with it. I am of that school.

Without trying to offend every DJ, and every track made outside of the genre, I’d rather listen to “Dust in the Wind’ or “Smoke on the Water” than any offering by a Beyonce, a Timberlake, or a Tiesto. Rock wakes me up, it gets me through the night, it moves my old bones when I need to move. Of course, they couldn’t pay me, and the place looked and smelled like ten thousand and one depraved nights had hit it hard. I decided I didn’t need to change much, except for the ceiling, the walls…. the floor…the bathrooms…the entrance…the furniture…the bar…the lighting…and everything else in between or squished in the cracks. Luke, Tim, and their crew of relatives—relatively sane peeps—merry men and fabulous women, went at it with a vengeance, and a lot of love, sweat and tears. We pulled it off. White Noise is the shit. In soft opening the last week or so, it has worked like a charm. It’s new, but not too. It looks like a set for a Stones video, but is so down to earth when it’s occupied by like-minded souls. It is pure rock, and will be home to a scene that really hasn’t had one since they shuttered Snitch.

Money isn’t everything in design. It sure helps, but if an operator has some skills and determination, a joint can be realized. I am currently working on places with budgets of $4 million, $10 million and higher, and for that super chic set, it is necessary. But if you want to go home to your rock and roll roots, and see it as it was meant to be seen, brought to you by people who live it 24/7/365, then White Noise provides. I caught up with Luke while Tim was tweaking the joint and taking care of his very new baby.

Where did the name come from?

The name White noise comes from the book by Don Delillo—from the idea that modern life has become so overly saturating to the senses that even the most exciting things in our lives have become background or “white noise.” That’s why we thought it would be a perfect name for a bar.

How do you and Tim know each other?

Me and Timmy have been best friends since we were in Kindergarten. We’ve been working together since we were 12. Timothy was a philosophy major, I was a fine art major. We are both musicians and artists.

Tell me about yourself and New York Nightlife.

I started going to Disco 2000 when I was 16. I was working the VIP door at Tavern in the Hamptons in the summers when I was 19—when I would come home from art school. Threw parties and worked doors for years in the city. Thursdays at 289 was one of my favorite parties that I did with Bill Fresco back then. I disappeared for a little while to deal with the damage done from those years. Came back started a band with Timothy called Night Kills the Day. Supported the band by being a bottle host at Stereo with Barry. We got signed, recorded an album and went on the road. Came back and worked as head host at Mansion while working on our second album— which has taken forever. Timothy has bartended, managed and worked doors, hosted at various bars and restaurants, while supporting his artistic endeavors, and doing scores for independent films for the last decade—most recently at the Gates. We started to think New York really needed a cool rock bar. I had been thinking about opening a bar downtown for about a year. Timothy had a baby, and that was the deciding factor to step it up and open up a bar together.

How did you come to this space?

We loved the bar White Noise used to be years ago called Uncle Mings. Rob Morgan, the original owner, had some offers but held off for us. The location was perfect. Timmy bartended there, and we used to do our after show parties there when we were playing Mercury Lounge and Bowery Ballroom. We called in a lot of favors, including you Steven, and made it happen. I was pleasantly surprised with how many people supported us and lent a hand. We built it ourselves and with the help of my little brother Owen and his friends.

What’s this place about?

White Noise is a rock bar that will be playing only rock that spans the full spectrum within the genre. With all DJs that play great music, Michael T, Uncle Mike, John Lennon, Nick Marc, friends of ours in bands and others. We wanted to make a place where we, and our friends, would like to hang out and party. We wanted it to be more like New York was 15 years ago, and to break out of the mold a lot of places are following. There aren’t enough places right now in New York to hear good rock music so we thought it was the perfect time. We wanted to make a place not so pretentious. A great mix of people. Musicians, artist, hipsters, skaters, groovers, straights, gays. A non-aggressive open-minded environment made for a good time only with great music.

Tell me about the look. We wanted the design to be dark, seedy, sexy and red lit only. We hired Home and Apartment by Marc to reupholster old vintage furniture in black vinyl and brass studs. Covered the bar in old tin roofing Timmy bought on the street in Brooklyn. We covered the walls behind the bar in red lit insulators from the 60’s. And black on black damask wallpaper. Kept the old chandeliers and covered them in liquid rubber and shoe glue. Kept the windows boarded up and covered them in black velvet curtains. We covered the old wooden floors with layers of red, gold, and black paint and we will polyurethane it after we are satisfied with how badly they get scuffed up and ruined. So in a way, our patrons are helping us create a piece of art on our floors. Even Billy from Billy’s Antiques on Houston gave us a great deal on a floor to ceiling pier mirror from the 1800s. Clay Patrick McBride gave us one of his portraits of Iggy Pop, and James Greco, the Brooklyn-based painter, has given us one of his paintings. James also helped me make the buffalo skull infinity boxes. I hope people will enjoy the space as much as we enjoyed making it.

Steven, of course, a huge thank you to you for all your design direction and support. You’re a really good dude, Steven, and what you did will always be very appreciated by me.

Miami: Where to Party for Superbowl XLIV

Unless you’re a regular at Rick’s Cabaret, you’ll never be able to feast your eyes on so many drunk, carefree football players and lovers as you will in Miami this weekend. Even if you aren’t a football fan, Miami is a great place to watch multiple definitions of ‘action’ happen. Witness Kim Kardashian and Kendra Wilkinson throw down on behalf of their football playing men, place bets on what Playmate T.O. will bag and stalk Rihanna, Timbaland, Jennifer Lopez and Usher as they host events around SoFla.

Friday The Shore Club (South Beach)- Uber sceney fusion of Ian Schrager, Paris and Diddy. What: Friday Night Lights When: 9:00pm – 4:00am Hosts: DJ faves like David Berrie and DJ Clue, Solange Knowles, Lamarr Woodley from the Steelers, Ray Rice from the Ravens, Shawne Merriman of the Chargers and Warren Sapp.

Fontainebleau Miami Beach (South Beach)- Miami’s billion-dollar baby. What: ESPN’s Next Party When: 9:00pm – 1:00am Hosts: Estelle, Ne-Yo and Keri Hilson perform whilst Q-Tip DJs the event.

Cameo (South Beach)- World-class DJs, underclass desires, and upper crust prices. What: T-Pain and Akon perform When: 11:00pm – 4:00am Hosts: I was just wondering whether or not T-Pain was still in jail, or was supposed to be going to jail, and, like we often do with Lil’ Wayne, we suddenly see him popping up at a club performance. Which makes me second guess both the penal system and whether or not he was even supposed to be in jail in the first place. He’s here, drinking at a table with Akon.

Saturday The Raleigh (South Beach)- The local equivalent of LA’s Chateau Marmont. What: The Maxim Party with Amanda Bynes When: 9:00pm – 4:00am Hosts: This month’s cover star Amanda Bynes is joined by Jermaine Dupri and a giant swag bag filled with VW, Samsung, Patron, Armani Code, Pepsi Max, BSN, Ubisoft and Gillette.

W Hotel (Fort Lauderdale)- Urbane chain does slick SoBe hotel, W-style. What: Taste of the N.F.L. After Party with Pete Wentz When: 10:00pm – 4:00am Hosts: Pete Wentz, though no one really knows what he has to do with the N.F.L. but the event is in good taste, as twenty-eight of the finest chefs from around the country, one from each NFL city, serve up their specialties alongside an alumni player from each of the NFL teams to raise money for local and national hunger organizations. And this is where they get wild after the meal.

Sagamore Hotel (South Beach)– What other hotel on the Beach has a lobby set up as an art gallery? What: Playboy Hosts The Black Eyed Peas After-Party When: 10:00pm – 4:00am Hosts: The Black Eyed Peas get that song stuck in your head, but the bunnies inexplicably take your mind off of it. The pairing bodes well, as Playboy is trying to re-brand the hotel as a Playboy property.

Cameo (South Beach)- World-class DJs, underclass desires, and upper crust prices. What: Ludacris and Trey Songz performances When: 11:00pm – 4:00am Hosts: Who needs a host when you have Luda and Trey poppin’ bottles at the next table?

Sunday W Hotel (South Beach)- Urbane chain does slick SoBe hotel, W-style, and tonight: 1OAK style. What:1OAK infiltrates South Beach with an event that supports the Red Cross for Haiti Relief. When: 11:00pm – 4:00am Hosts: Jessica Alba, Lindsay Lohan, and Gabrielle Union. Maybe the most A-list of this round-up. Which means lot’s of footballers.

Mansion (South Beach)- An obligatory stop on the South Beach nocturnal tour. What: Strip Tease Super Bowl After Party When: 11:00pm – 4:00am Hosts: Marques Houston performs and the Opium Group hosts.

Miami: Top 10 Spots to Get Laid

Rose Bar at the Delano (South Beach) – For you more classy folk, find your way to the bar and order a round of bubbly. There’s nothing like champers to attract some female attention. ●Prive (South Beach) – School is back in sesh soon, and this is where the hungry frosh head to get their groove on. All it will cost you is a screwdriver. ●B.E.D. (South Beach) – Because sometimes all it takes is a few cocktails and an accessible BED.

Skybar (South Beach) – Out-of-towners come here for a chance celeb encounter. If you keep the tonic flowing, chances are they won’t be disappointed you aren’t John Mayer or one of the Jonas Bros. ●Casa Tua (South Beach) – Find a pal with entry upstairs, and you pretty much have it in the bag. ●Plunge (South Beach) – This is where the Magic City’s most eligible skirts and shorts find themselves lingering on a Thursday night. ●Club 50 (Downtown/Brickell area) – Rumor has it this is where all the “good ones” have been flocking on Friday nights. Well worth a trip off the beach, even if you don’t get lucky. ●Florida Room (South Beach) – Grab your wingman and get down with SoBe’s 20-something crowd. ●Space (Downtown/Brickell area) – Debauchery ensues at about 6a. ●Mansion (South Beach) – Promiscuous Girl should be the anthem at this fist-pumping club. Throngs of scantily clad chicks wait impatiently for the next round or free entry.

Miami Hotel Deals @ Gansevoort South

imageGansevoort South, the sexy southern version of Hotel Gansevoort in New York’s Meatpacking District, is breaking out some great package deals to entice you to come on down and hang by the (gorgeous) pool. There’s the “Naughty But Nice” package, which includes such niceties as a bottle of champagne with chocolate covered strawberries, two monogrammed bathrobes and a “mile high intimacy kit” — a feather tickler, a “personal massager,” and three condoms. Though I’m not sure what the “mile high” is in reference to, the “personal massager” sounds like a good deal.

Then there’s the “Night Owl” package, which includes a bottle of Svedka vodka, VIP access to one of the Opium clubs (either Mansion or Set), and a complimentary late check-out time of 2 p.m. Vodka and VIP access to hot dance clubs? Sounds good to me. Both of these packages are priced under $400 a night, which is a steal considering their regular prices clock in around $695 a night (sans intimacy kits and vodka). Check it out for yourself here, or become a fan on their Facebook page so you can enjoy all the eye candy in their photos.

Machinations at Mansion: Make Way for “M2”

imageThose Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi Terminator flicks are really swell. I personally liked T2, the first sequel, better than the original. So it may be a similar story with Mansion. Word is that Mansion will almost immediately become “M2.” Just around a year after its launch, a game of musical chairs has followed a bankruptcy court proceeding last week.

I was walking through the Bowery Hotel yesterday trying to gather all the parts of a meeting that we had just moved to Gemma next door when I spied Eric Milon, Opium Group honcho, sitting in a big fat chair talking to a rather skinny fellow. Now the real skinny is that I don’t know Eric very well — although I did interview him when Mansion first opened, and it would have been proper to say “hey.” But Eric had a serious don’t-disturb-me look on his face, so I dared not approach.

But my big rabbit ears heard a word breathed in a Rosebudian fashion that piqued my interest. He said “construction,” and the skinny guy and he talked even more seriously. Since I didn’t think they were building anything new, I figured they were chatting about construction costs (still a lingering problem over at his Mansion club). An hour later, I heard of an open call for staff at Mansion, and I decided to ask around. Another “sport” Rosebudded me again with the name “M2,” so this time I knew it was real.

It seems that a meeting of all the powers that be are happy as clams to be going forward as planned with a new name and new vigor — man, that Barack dude is inspiring! Bruce Dunston is seemingly very active again and everyone seems so happy that Andre Hnatyszak is now gone that I just feel like saying “God bless you!” Andre represented the interests of the primary investor, and all seem agreed that he was “very much in the way”. Without “real club experience” it was difficult to move as dynamically as Mansion/M2 wanted to.

Mark Baker is so very pleased that the new vehicle “M2” will move as adroitly as one of his beloved Ferraris. He speaks of grand events and gala productions and celebrities. I love my Baker served up enthusiastically. When Mark is feeling like he can really do it, he seems to have a Red Bull-induced vigor. But this is all for now, and next week I’ll be talking about the Ministry of Sound’s involvement with Fridays at “M2” and other grand plans.