Club Space: Pinnacle of the Megaclub

I LOVE Club Space. I’ve been going there for years and was a weekly regular at one point. It’s an unruly beast, however, so to optimize your Club Space experience, consider the following.

It is one of the most longstanding clubs in Miami and one of the best known clubs in the world. Yeah, they kinda ripped the name off Space Ibiza, but it’s a minor offense so try to find it in your heart to forgive LP and his crew. You’ll be glad you did.

Your heart will flutter. Your mouth will salivate. You will begin to feel beads of sweat forming on your chest. Your body will pulsate with the bass, thumping through every fiber of your being. And you will have not even entered the club yet, because all that is just the anticipation you feel when crossing the threshold is imminent.

You will hear Alan T. before you see him, but you’ll know him when you do. Don’t even try to beg a favor if you don’t know him or aren’t dressed in the chicest of fashions. You may catch a glimpse of the entertainment for the night: gorgeous go-go dancers made up in costumes dreamt up by the craziest of minds.

As you get ready for your visit, consider the door policy. It is one reason why I love Space so much. The general idea is “come as you are.” Wanna wear a hat? Ok. Sporting your college tee? Sure. Prefer to wear sneakers? Damn right! You better wear shoes because this place gets nasty. No door drama here, because if your money (or your credit) is good, you’re welcome at Space. Yes, there can be a line, but it moves fast (WMC notwithstanding).

Don’t be an ass to the door staff. You don’t know them, so don’t call out to them, even if your cousin’s babysitter’s mother-in-law told you one of their names. They don’t care. Wait your turn, do as you are told, and you will be given your chance. Don’t complain about the entrance fee, because if you don’t want to pay it, there are hundreds of other people who will.

Know what to expect. This is a huge club with an extremely loud sound system and an exceptionally sophisticated lights and visuals show. It’s dark and there’s nowhere for you to sit unless you buy bottles. It’s a DANCE club, after all, so give that a shot. Bring cash, because you will be served more quickly and you really don’t want a bartender in a dark club holding on to your credit card (or worse, debit card) and ID anyway. Be nice to your bartender (and patient) and you will be served efficiently with strong drinks for a fair price.

Don’t bring anything dangerous, don’t start shit with the bouncers, don’t try to skip out on your bill, and don’t even THINK about bringing illegal substances into the club. They are strict at Space because they are nightlife pros, and if you’re just here to have a good time, that should make you feel more comfortable, not less.

Space brings top DJs from all over the world, so figure out who’s spinning at what time when you go. Go upstairs; the terrace is primo at sunrise, even as a solarium. The club has a 24-hour liquor license and will stay open as long as people are spending money.

Those who complain about the prices at Space should consider for a moment what one month’s FPL bill might look like at a warehouse that size. Or payroll taxes for the entire staff. Or, most of all, DJ fees for some of the biggest names in the world.

Bottom Line: Space is the pinnacle of the megaclub in this country. You simply must go, at least once. A visit to Space is, and was designed to be, an experience.

Dog Gone Great Day at Keys Woofstock!

Yes, you read that right. WooFstock. As in, woof woof, what your doggy says to you when he needs to go out, or sees someone at your door, or hears the front gate close, or you sneeze, or….

Anyway, this isn’t about my dog’s frequent and annoying habit of barking at the air, it’s about a fantastic, free, dog-friendly event sponsored by MarrVelous Pet Rescues & Adoptions. The location? Well, this is Florida after all, and all fabulous events here take place ocean-front, and Woofstock was no exception. Beautiful Founder’s Park in Islamorada, FL played host to the thousands of furry friends and the people who obsess over them.

Every dog you could imagine was represented at Woofstock: big Great Danes, tiny Chihuahuas, new hybrid types like my unique German Sheagle, marvelous mixes of all kinds, and even a fluffy white guy who was tie-dyed pink, blue, and green in true hippie form. Speaking of tie dye, there certainly was plenty of it. From the vendors to the staff, bright colorful fabric abounded, keeping the theme of the day consistent.

The adjacent dog park served to shed some energy off the excited pups, but all animals were leashed and well-behaved as they explored the many booths. Treats and lunch for dogs and humans alike were for sale at reasonable prices. Local restaurants offering fresh seafood added spice to the usual street food type fare. But by far, the most popular and exciting areas were the doggy dock diving and lure racing. For a meager $10, your little angel could race around the track chasing a stuffed animal or fly through the air and into the pool after his favorite toy. It’s a competition so make a note of your time and distance! Ours was 10.4 seconds, heck yeah!

Plenty of scents for doggy noses and sweet tunes for human eardrums polished up the day perfectly. A local band of teenagers brought ska style funk and fun loving fans who danced hard right up front. Juxtaposed thereafter was the middle aged group of rockers whose drummer crooned 70s ballads and 90s rock anthems to which everyone sings along.

Keys Woofstock was a well-organized event that was fun for the entire family. Next year we’ll be back, and I’ll be sure to get the word out in advance so everyone can enjoy it. If you would like to support Keys Woofstock, please follow the below link to make a donation to the Marr-Velous Pet Rescues & Adoptions of the Florida Keys.

http://www.marrvelouspetrescues.org/donations.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dog Beach of Hollywood, FL

The Dog Beach of Hollywood, FL
Between Pershing and Custer Streets on the Ocean
www.dboh.org

The emotions I felt when I took my little angel to the dog beach in Hollywood, FL for the first time were overwhelming. Boundi and the other dogs ran, swam, played fetch, chased each other, and generally had the time of their lives, all free from leash restraint.

The friendly dogs and people who shared the experience with us on this fall day smiled and laughed as we talked about our pets and threw tennis balls deep into the Atlantic. Everyone cleaned up after their pet(s) and our dog even cleaned up after some ungrateful beach goer, who had littered a plastic bag in the ocean. Ever the loyal retriever, Boundi brought the bag to our feet and we properly disposed of it.

I like very much that they have a public official or park officer of some kind there on the sand to ensure everyone’s safety, though he wasn’t utilized during my visit.

For Miami Dade dog lovers who have visited the “dog beach” on Key Biscayne: DON’T! Don’t ever go there again. I know we won’t. Even though it’s a bit of a drive to the Hollywood beach, the experience is more than worth it and the beach doesn’t even compare to the dirty area on the causeway where they allow dogs in Miami.
Bottom Line: This gorgeous beach is amazing just for human recreation, and allowing furry friends to share in the fun takes it to another fantastic level!
By Talmage

Dear Bar 721, I Love You.

Bar 721
721 Lincoln Lane North
Miami Beach, FL
www.bar721.com

By Talmage Thornhill
Please bear with me while I get very excited. Bar 721 makes me unreasonably ecstatic. It is the best bar in Miami Beach, hands down. My enamorment with this establishment is fueled by several crucial factors I shall outline here.

Smoke free? Check!
Amazing happy hour? Check!
Friendly staff and clientele? Check!
Appealing, full liquor cocktail menu with exotic drinks? Check!
Comfortable couches? Clean venue? Nice Decor? Check, Check, Check!
WELCOMES MY DOG!?!?!?!? CHECK!!!!!

So while I calm myself down I’ll also point out that while this is a gay friendly establishment, there has been a mixed crowd every time I’ve visited. It’s large enough to feel spacious but small enough to be manageable and cozy. Music differs from night to night but at times they bring in DJs in the later evening hours. TVs are there and usually on if you would like to watch sports, but no food is served. Friendly staff usually allows you to bring in to-go stuff from local eateries, though.

721 is in the space that used to be the “Laundry Bar.” Please do not let this scare you. There is not a hint of this venue’s former self present any more. Everything has been gutted and it doesn’t resemble the old dive at all. Cheers!

This is a shot of some friends and me celebrating Halloween 2010 at Bar 721, our favorite neighborhood hangout.

It’s Prime Time for Pork at Sobe’s Pubbelly

Pubbelly
1418 20th St
Miami Beach, FL 33139
pubbelly.com

By Talmage Thornhill
Mmmm… I’ll be dreaming about those pork belly dumplings for weeks!

You must go into this place knowing they use very bold flavors. Some things work beautifully, where some would benefit from a little tweaking. Note although the prices are low on each item, you should expect to spend about $75 per person if you want to order freely and have a drink with the meal. The beverage list follows the creative vibe of the food menu, which may be good for some but was a little frustrating for us as we just wanted a simple beer we knew we would enjoy. I did like very much the Siesta Malbec as a match with the food.

The service was great. We were greeted by one of the owners, who was a bit stressed but gave us his undivided attention and personal recommendations as he seated us after a brief wait. Our server(s) were attentive, friendly, and knowledgeable. The venue itself is decidedly trendy but not in an obnoxious way. The communal table in the middle makes for a friendly, neighborhood feel that is quite lovely.

What they do right, they do perfectly. Pork belly (with butterscotch & pumpkin), dumplings, home made olives, stuffed mussels (and I don’t like mussels) all were phenomenal. Pork belly is their specialty, so I recommend focusing mainly on the dishes that include it. It truly is the best I’ve ever had: perfectly cooked with a pin point accurate balance of fat and meat. The duck dumplings were good, but I have to reiterate how amazing the pork belly dumplings were. The combination of flavors and textures blew my mind. I can’t remember the last time I tasted something so memorable, unique and perfectly delicious.

Some stuff missed the mark for me. The “country ham” was not prepared properly (traditionally). Country Ham was a staple in my southern home growing up, and it’s served warm and thickly cut. Pubbelly served it cold and sliced thin, like lunch meat. It was ok, but should be called something else because anyone who knows what Country Ham is will expect a different product.

I didn’t care for the Short rib Carpaccio. The sauce was made with boquerones, which are like anchovies, so there was an overwhelmingly fishy taste to the dish. I tried to isolate the actual meat to get a feel for its flavor, but the other ingredients lingered and still overpowered the taste. Salt & Pepper Squid was good; the meat was tasty and well cooked but the breading was lacking a certain crunch I was hoping for. We also tried the dates with chorizo, which were tasty, but not a must-have (more chorizo, perhaps?). I was disappointed in the brownie with bacon. Soft serve vanilla ice cream with small pieces of brownie on top and a miniscule crumble of bacon does not an intriguing dish make. I couldn’t taste the bacon at all, even when I isolated it. The pieces were too small and the flavor of the bacon itself was simply weak.

Bottom Line: I shall return to Pubbelly an educated orderer. I’ll take fellow pig product aficionados with me and celebrate in all that is pork belly.

Ecco Lounge Earns A Few New Fans!

Ecco Lounge
168 SE 1st St # 1A-2, Upstairs
Miami, FL
Website.

By Talmage Thornhill
There’s a new night life venue on the Miami scene, and it made quite an impression on this young woman.

Enter the venue from a downtown Miami street where a bouncer shows you through a small lobby and to a large stairway leading up and into the night’s adventure. Scope the room and note Ecco Lounge is small, though not cramped and feels quite comfortable. The drinks are strong and almost cheap by this sobe girl’s standards. The bartenders and other staff do their job competently and with a smile. On the night of my visit, the music was outstanding so props to the events staff for booking awesome electronic music talents Kate Simko and local Sebastian Cariaga.

The set up of the room lends itself to drinking, dancing and relaxing. The DJ booth is slightly raised and in front of a window facing the dance area and bar behind it. To one side are couches if you prefer to relax and on the other is what I like to call the Washroom VIP. Yes, technically it is just a bathroom, but it’s freakin great! Lovely decor, quite clean, ample stalls, sinks, and supplies, and an adorable seating area. Guys, don’t get suspicious about your girl’s party habits if she lingers too long in the ladies’ room. She’s probably just chatting up her friends in a quiet environment.

My only disappointment is that smoking is allowed inside, but such is the status quo in Florida so my gripe would probably be more useful were it correctly directed to our fair state’s public health department, but I digress.

I hope Ecco Lounge continues to book DJs and plan unique events, because it is quite possibly perfect for my current after dark desires. Volume, lighting, staff, drinks, and even temperature were all on point. Now when was the last time you could say that about a night life venue?

Vino Fino: The 9th Annual Miami International Wine Fair

The 9th Annual Miami International Wine Fair
October 14–17, 2010
Miami Beach Convention Center

By Talmage Thornhill
What an adventure! Traveling around the world via libation was the escapade of the day at the Miami International Wine Fair.

There were too many scrumptious samples to delineate all of them in their entirety, but suffice to say the choices were plentiful enough to please any palate. My favorite regions were Catalonia, which was much larger than I expected, and my old standard Chile. Peru had some interesting offerings as well.

Most of the hosts we encountered were friendly and somewhat nonchalant, but a few stood out as exceptionally enthusiastic. Some were also notable for their apparent lack of interest in laypeople like us, who did not have the power to bring their product to the US like the buyers and distributors whose attention they coveted. Many of the wines we tasted were not available for purchase in this country yet, and the goal of their representatives was understandably to change that. Across the board, everyone was generous with their pours and knowledge.

Traveling around the different areas was what really made the event special for me. The personalities and ethnicities mirrored the countries represented, so diversity was abundant. It wasn’t just wine that was available, either. Tequila, vodka, and new products such as canned bubbly wine were also present. The size, scope, and layout of the room were ideal: not too big to manage, not too small to get bored. The event provided some light food, but with such limited time, why focus on anything other than liquid love?

The Wine Fair was a great event. In the end we walked away satisfied and happy but not thrilled or blown away. By the time we arrived, in the evening when the event was open to the public, some vendors had run out of samples or were exhausted from a long day. Next year I’m campaigning for a VIP pass nice and early!

Photographs by Talmage Thornhill

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