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Opium Garden & Score, Miami Beach, Fl
by Mark Thompson & Robert Doyle
August 16, 2008 Bookmark and Share
So the economy’s tanking and real estate’s plummeting and there’s still a war and salsa gives you salmonella, so what are you gonna do? You’re gonna party like it’s 1999, of course. Or at least that’s the modus operandi on the Beach. It’s not even Season—and already there are fresh new parties popping up all over Miami Beach.

Maybe it’s nostalgia for the good old days—when American life was a bowl of cherries and Special K, and everyone came to party on the Beach. Whatever the reason, there’s every reason to indulge now. Let the dollar keep falling—and keep those Europeans and South Americans swimming ashore. And besides, when the going gets tough, the tough get down.

Hot on the heels of his wildly successful Amnesia 10 Reunion in July at Opium Garden, Edison Farrow recently announced his latest Amnesia T-Dance, the Labor Day version, scheduled for Sunday the 31st of August, from 4 pm to 10 pm, with—get this—Susan Morabito on the decks. Fire Island fave La Morabito hasn’t been heard on the Beach in far too long, and especially in August.


For years, Morabito helmed the famous Saturday morning/afternoon affairs at Crobar (now Cameo) during White and Winter Party weekends. Can we say legendary? Anyone who remembers those parties knows those parties live on in the Great Party Pantheon. And for anyone who missed them, here’s an opportunity to witness Morabito work her soulful sexy groove in a setting evocative of the ancient Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Opium Garden (née Amnesia) has the goods—an indoor-outdoor space that evokes the sunny isles of Ibiza and Mykonos. Or as Farrow put it, “The venue is amazing! For a Tea Dance, or any daytime party, people want to be outside. The Opium Garden space has no roof, so you can see the beautiful blue sky of South Beach above. Also, the music is fun and uplifting. For a long time, the music in the gay scene was so dark and angry [and] I’m glad that we are moving away from that.”

With appearances and shows by the likes of Adora, Asia, Barbarella, Chyna, and Fantasy, the party’s bound to evoke the halcyon days of Miami Beach, when every day was a party and every party producer was a disco star. Don't believe us? Check out Farrow in "Got to Have Some Lovin", and "Luv Bug".


Farrow’s not the only one with his fingers on the pulse of today’s recharged Beach. Producer Hilton Wolman has also hooked into the new Beach vibe, and on the 24th of August, Wolman launches a brand new monthly event: an early Sunday night party at Score called (in honor of another fabled South Beach club) Salvation Sundays. As Wolman says, “With the recent remodeling of Score and Twist, as well as the addition of Halo, Miami Beach has adapted to the change in party dynamics and promoters have realized that they don’t need to always use a mega-club in order to have a successful event. [Furthermore], major A-list deejays [can be] more comfortable spinning the more intimate venues.”

For years, Salvation was the apogee of South Beach gay nightlife, following in the footsteps of such other famous clubs as Paragon and Warsaw. Back then, boyz from all around the globe came to party at Salvation Miami. As Wolman remembers, “[During Salvation’s heyday], the population supported three huge clubs with three consecutive gay nights each and every weekend. [And now], apart from big party weekends, such as White, Winter, New Year’s and Atlantis Sailaway, we cater to smaller crowds—but what I've found is that when someone like Abel spins at Score the energy level is identical to what it was like on a good night at Salvation, Crobar or Twilo, even though the numbers might not be the same. Judging by people's reaction, they are having just as much fun as they used to in the larger venues.” With performances by host Power Infiniti, as well as décor by RKM and lights by Tony Lage, and Abel in the booth, Salvation Sundays promises to bring back those glorious nights of mayhem and magic.

For those who know Abel best as Alegria’s resident maestro, Wolman says, “People [often] consider Abel a late-night or after-hours DJ, but after hearing him spin a tea dance on board the January Atlantis cruise, we tried it in Fort Lauderdale. The response was sensational. So one thing that will make Salvation Sundays stand out will be hearing Abel spin a format unlike what most people associate him with. Salvation Sundays will be much more current, with Abel spinning a happy, upbeat set of the latest music, while throwing in a few of the Salvation classics.”

So there you have it: an opportunity to witness Abel going through his arsenal of beats, both past and present. For if there’s one thing we all know about Abel, it’s the maestro’s ability to rework the past into something totally contemporary and completely danceable.

The bottom line? What better way to end a weekend. As Wolman says, “The party starts promptly at five pm and goes until midnight, so everyone can attend without worrying about staying out too late when they have to work on Monday.” For Score owners, Billy Kemp and Luis Morera, the formula is as easy as one-two-three: “First, music. Abel’s a Miami resident and he’ll mix those beats that made Miami dance floors famous. Second, HOT crowd. Third, DRINK SPECIALS! Because what’s a nice party without a nice cocktail?” And as if to prove their point, those nice Score boyz are offering a nice open bar from 5-6 pm on Salvation Sundays.

Get that, Madge. It’s not even Season, and already the Beach is buzzing. That’s the kind of energy Farrow speaks about when he says, “There is, and always will be, incredible energy here—an energetic and contagious vibe here that comes from the great weather and the Latin influence.” Farrow continues, “South Beach has continued to grow over the past fifteen years. We’re still a young and ever changing city. I don't think the gays ever left, as some say. They just grew up, got jobs and their lives have changed. There’s a more diverse demographic now [and the Beach] is no longer just a seasonal vacation town, but a full-time, twelve-months-a-year city.” Score owners, Billy and Luis, agree, saying, “I think it’s a cycle [and] every three or four years, it changes. It seems like people are looking for a change, [only] to realize they have it all in Miami.”

So book your flights and pack your booty. As Farrow promises about Amnesia, “There will be a huge crowd of beautiful people having fun. The last event had amazing energy. The feedback that I got was overwhelming.” Apart from La Morabito, there’s also Miami’s own DJ Smeejay to get things started off right. Snap up your $15 advance tix (and save 25%) at Halo or on-line at VIP tix, which include a sponsored Ciroc Vodka open bar, are $60 (and they’ll sell out, as everyone who attended Amnesia 10 in July knows…) Throw down the cash; it’s worth it, given that a portion of the proceeds will benefit the cash-strapped Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. Think of it like this: you’re drinking for the good of gay culture—or something like that, anyway.

And if there’s one thing we all know about gay culture: we live it first and the rest follow. So let’s get these parties started and dance the world out of its depression.


Sunday, August 24th, 5pm to Midnight
Hilton Wolman Presents
Salvation Sundays
DJ Abel w/performances by Power Infiniti
Décor by RKM / Lights by Tony Lage
727 Lincoln Road @ Meridian, Miami Beach

Sunday, August 31st, 4pm to 10pm
Edison Farrow and present
Amnesia Tea Dance: Labor Day Weekend
DJ Susan Morabito / DJ Smeejay
Adora, Asia, Barbarella, Chyna, Fantasy
Opium Garden
136 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach
Tickets available at:
By phone at 800.838.3006
In person at: Halo, 1625 Michigan Avenue, Miami Beach
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