JRL
NIGHTVISION with Humberto Guida
Humberto Guida is a pop journalist and comedian based in Los Angeles who regularly finds himself in curious situations, as he explores the nefarious corners, people, and trends of contemporary nightlife. Follow his misadventures in clubland and run-ins with the wildest party people in the country right here on Clubplanet’s off-the-wall blog... Humberto's Nightvision.

Poplife: Miami's Indie Party

posted on 07.15.2010

When you think of Miami nightlife, you think of South Beach and all the house and hip-hop and glossy, fake plasticity. But there are plenty of indie and underground nooks and crannies if you know where to look… like somewhere off the Beach, north of Downtown in The Design District, Wynwood Art District and the nascent Midtown Miami neighborhoods. The nightlife in these areas is thriving now. Places that were once desolate and dangerous have been pioneered by Poplife throughout the last decade, taking over various venues up and down North Miami Ave.

I’ve been going out in Miami for a while. I grew up there and even though I live in LA now, I still make it a point to spend a handful of weekends back home, just to hit the clubs (it’s one of the things Miami does right). But while I’m often obligated to pass by the newest, biggest, most hyped, celebrity-laden hotspots, I typically end up at a party called Poplife. The weekly party has been running since 1999 when it launched inside a closet-sized art gallery in Coral Gables by a pair of couples who wanted a party that reflected their lifestyle and music taste. Since then, co-founders Aramis Lorie, an easy going Cuban-born eccentric who seems spacey but is really always lost in thought, and Barbara Basti, an on-top-of-it maven of all things cool, have made Poplife ground zero for Miami’s indie hispteratti.  

What you get at Poplife, aside from artists and scenesters and randoms, is good music. Whether it’s old-school hip-hop, obscure house, new wave, or electro-clash, the night is known for being the true alternative to the top 40 crap played in the clubs on South Beach. I started going to Poplife back in the day for their once a month “Miami Bass” night when they had just moved from the art gallery to a cavernous indoor/outdoor resto-lounge. The night was maestro’d by DJ Le Spam (aka Andrew Yeomanson, leader of Miami’s signature fusion band The Spam Allstars). It celebrated all the bass thumping, bootie-shaking, rampantly kitschy underground electro Miami produced in the ‘80s. I love that shit.

Poplife was also one of the first promotional vehicles to book up-and-coming indie acts, from Of Montreal to Le Tigre, Peaches to Modest Mouse, all of whom would not have come to Miami otherwise. I once hit some sauce with members of The Stills before they played a show at Poplife. One of them (I can’t remember which one) was so drunk he pissed himself before going on stage (I swear, I have footage…).

These days the Poplife contingent has set up shop in their new digs, a gutted out and clubbed up two-story façade in downtown Miami called Grand Central. A sweet stage and LED screen front an expansive dancefloor. Catch Aloe Blacc of HBO’s How to Make It In America at this spot on July 21st here. If you’re in Miami throw on your skinny jeans and check it out.

Here’s a quick Q&A with one of Poplife’s founders, Barabara Basti:

How does the new venue compare to the old ones Poplife has been through?
Grand Central is actually an event space as opposed to just a nightclub or bar. It is very versatile; almost the entire floor plan is movable. It is suitable for corporate events, as well as live music and parties. It has a full in-house sound system and staging, which make it the only venue of its size in Miami for live shows, so we have the opportunity to book acts that we wouldn’t have otherwise.

Describe the party over the years. What is Poplife all about in 2010?
Hmmm. I consider Poplife to be a driving force in Miami, a way to open up the nightlife choices and subculture. We have pioneered the way for a vibrant downtown Miami nightlife scene. What used to be considered "underground" or "niche" is now a part of popular culture. We will continue putting on great shows and events and we are happy to be in a new venue that is suited to what we want to do.

How is Miami doing in general in regard to indie music? Are you bringing any notable acts to Poplife this year?
There is very much a "scene" now, where there wasn't before. We hope to have tons of great shows before the year is out and we have lots of great stuff coming up in the fall… Crystal Castles, for one, in September.

Visit epoplife.com for more information.

I can see you… but not like, in a stalker way or anything like that.
- HG

Single Dude’s Guide to Getting into Clubs

posted on 06.22.2010

Getting into the hottest clubs in cities like New York, LA, or Miami can be tough if you’re not a hot chick or a guy surrounded by hot chicks. If you’re a single dude you better have an in or be ready to drop a few dimes. It’s actually pretty damn discriminatory if you think about it. Yeah I’ll say it. Woman’s Lib taught us all about the glass ceilings and double standards they have to put up with, but you never hear a peep about the bullshit guys face in society, like when they go out to clubs. Part of the reason is that it doesn’t occur to us to complain—for one, because we’re stupid, and for two, because we’re busy staring at kajoobies. Well have no fear gentlemen, I’m here with some solutions. For the dudes who want get past a tough velvet rope sans date or reservation, here’s how to do it.  

First off, you have to completely sell the fact you belong. That means you’re not even worried about getting in. Walk right up to the front door (shoo people out of your way if you have to). Have your cell phone out like you’re juggling a conversation; after all, you're not even sweating getting in, your mind is on other things. Wave the doorman over, don’t be rude or condescending, but express a slight impatience. Remember, you're selling the notion that you are supposed to be inside, but you give these doordudes any excuse and they’ll send you off.

Now, dropping names of club owners and promoters is useful, but often these people might be called out to verify they know you. Let’s say you don’t have names to drop. When the doorman comes over, have your cell in your hand, like dealing with him doesn’t involve your complete attention, and motion with your free hand for him to let you in. On a good night, this alone might be enough to get you through. But let’s assume he puts up the picket fence with the dreaded, “Can I help you?”

Here’s the script. You say, “Yeah, my friends have a table in there. They’re waiting for me.” At this point check your phone for important texts from phantom VIP friends who are dying to know where you are and lean forward as if you totally expect him to pull the rope open for you. If he doesn’t seem to be doing so, put your phone to your ear. Now you’re getting a call. “That’s them… ‘Hello! Yeah, I’m outside! Yeah they’re letting me in now! Yeah, they’re letting me in.’” Look at the doorman with an expression that says, “Any day now.” Don’t say it, just look it.

If you get this far, successfully striking the balance between being entitled and polite, the doorman will most often let you by. But if he still won’t give, don’t make the mistake of talking too much. Everyone knows you can never get away with actually saying things like “Do you know who I am?” Doormen and bouncers love to boot guys who pull that line. The key is to express the notion that they should know who you are. You won’t do that by continuing to jabber.

You do it by standing there right in front of him, making eye contact, and stoically waiting him out. If you don’t tell him anything antagonizing, or leer at him too provocatively, he won’t have a reason to tell you to fuck off. But he will want you out of his eyesight. So more often than not, if you played it perfectly, even the stingiest doorman will relent and pull the rope. He’ll probably let a group of people in ahead of you and then motion for you to proceed inside too. You’re welcome.

But now that I think about it... I hate it when I’m in a club with too many single guys. It ruins the atmosphere. Oh well, equality is a bitch.

I can see you… but not like, in a stalker way or anything like that.
- HG


Fruity Drinks for Guys

posted on 06.14.2010

Drinking fruity drinks is one of three gay things I do. Every straight guy has two or three homosexual tendencies. My other two are crossing my legs effeminately when I’m sitting for too long (it’s a late-onset tendency I started doing a couple of years ago, when someone convinced me that it’s better for circulation), and using a fork and knife to eat pizza (it’s greasy, bro). I guess trimming my pubbies on special occasions toes the line, but most reasonably groomed men do that nowadays.

Now, I know there are guys out there like me who like to sip on something alcoholic that may be a little sassy or somewhat silly, maybe even bright pink, but most importantly sweet and delicious… without looking like they’re rushing a sorority. You guys have the right to go on and drink those fruity drinks. Hey, get in touch with your feminine sides. Doing that helps us communicate better… or some shit, I don’t know how to say it.

So here it is. Unabashedly and unashamed, I present a list of my favorite fruity concoctions:

Mai Tai
A classic and, I don’t care what anyone says, tasty elixir of rum, fruit juices and syrup. There are many versions of this drink, but essentially it is white rum, dark rum, lime juice, and rock candy syrup, among other ingredients. When done right, it’s deliiiiish and two of them should be enough to knock you off your ass.

Rum and Pineapple
It’s simple. It’s easy. It’s rum, preferably spiced rum like Sailor Jerry, and pineapple juice. Try and screw it up… just try.

Watermelon Or Other Fruit-Flavored Margarita
I know what some of you are thinking: a margarita should not be messed with. You do it old school, you make it tart, you throw some extra lime in there if you want to be cute, and you put salt along the brim. But the truth is, a fruity margarita done right, with fresh ingredients like watermelon puree, mango pulp, or fresh cut tamarindo, is about the tastiest drink on earth.   

Madras
The madras is an easy drink to nurse when you just want to waif about the party looking blasé about the art, or music, or people… you get the picture. It’s an acidy cocktail consisting of vodka (a soft, smooth brand like Belvedere is good for this one), orange juice, and cranberry juice. It’s not too bright, or frisky looking, but it’ll get you in the mood.

Vodka Soda With Extra Lemons
This one is easy. My pick is Kettel One Vodka. You mix it in tonic if you don’t like cutting corners, or maybe club soda if you’re cutting back on the cals. Then you ask for extra lemons – like three or four wedges, five even. The point is to make a freaking lemonade out of it. Enjoy.

The Almondy
I want to make it official right here that I take credit (along with an actor friend of mine who bartended) for creating this drink. It might have existed somewhere else (I’m open to that possibility), but I swear to God that I had never heard of or tasted this drink before me and my buddy came up with it. It’s one part Stolichnaya Vanilla Vodka (I’d never drink that other than in this drink, which it was created for), one part pineapple juice, and one part Frangelico. I thought it tasted like… almondy. So, I named it “The Almondy.” It’s perfect for dessert.

There you go guys. Drink them confidently. In fact, flaunt these fruity drinks. It says a lot about how comfortable you are with your sexuality.

(And completely gratuitous, a picture of me in my cast...)

I can see you… but not like, in a stalker way or anything like that.
- HG

Urban Beach Week Survival Guide

posted on 06.01.2010

This past weekend (Memorial Day weekend) I was given the chance to spend a few days in Miami. Now, I didn’t mean to come here at this time, but due to an injury (which delayed a previous trip) and non-refundable airline tickets that I had to use before a busy summer season back in LA, I decided to travel back to my hometown for a breath of fresh humid air. I completely forgot that Memorial Day Weekend (presently known as “Urban Beach Week”) is the reincarnation of Freaknik. That means plenty of hip-hop debauchery, sweet concoctions, and deft booty shaking.

On the way into South Beach, an electronic sign posted this message from the city: “Welcome to Miami Beach… Happy Memorial Day weekend… No Open Containers… No Loud Music.” I’m not sure the city will get its way on the last two notes, but I am fairly certain that the reason the city of Miami Beach is being so naggy with their welcome sign, is that in past years Miami Hip-Hop Weekend has been a bit more than they can handle.

Sure, the weekend gets rowdy. It’s hip-hop, non-stop all over every club from Washington Ave to Ocean Drive. But I’m here to say that the cops are a little too heavy handed. Over the past few years, the Miami Beach Police department has filled up their weekend booking cells to the tune of thousands of arrests, most of which occur for minor infractions like drinking on the sidewalk or asking officers why you can’t head down a blocked-off street. Because many of this weekend’s patrons tend to be African American, the ACLU has time again charged the MBPD with racial profiling, a charge the MBPD adamantly denies. Last year there were over 500 arrests, down from as many as 1,000 in 2006.

After this weekend, I have compiled a list of a few tips for newbies who ever want to attend Urban Beach Week. Don’t look cops directly in the eye, don’t yell at your friends like you’re gonna belt them over the head for creepin’ on the girl you were eyeing, and respect these new mundane laws (which the city will lift on Tuesday) when you stagger home, including blasting beats from your ride as you’re cruising or drinking on the beach.

As for the parties, one bash of note that I attended was Rick Ross’ Slipe ‘N Slide Records party at Cameo, which featured his new tracks and an ass shaking contest. I also got in to Diddy’s exclusive fiesta at Karma (in spite of a walking boot). Diddy was seen in the VIP room fist pumping to a break in the hip-hop when a few house-y tracks were played. Oh PS, Diddy told one of the promoters who then relayed to me that he’s working on a house music album. Watch out.

Tired of the Meat Market? Try the Supermarket!

posted on 05.17.2010

Marriage material is something you just don't find much of in Clubland. Most party people lack the mindset to settle down, even as they keep their eyes peeled for that one and only Mr. or Ms. Right. In fact, joints that deal in decadence and debauchery are the places where relationships of the love and commitment variety go to die. Couples who are actually in love know this. That's why they always stand apart at clubs, guarding each other from the pitfalls of singledom. Notice how they're always the first to go home. Conversely, the end of a relationship almost assuredly brings out the late-night clubber in you. Broke up with a clingy boyfriend? Grab your gal pals – it's party time. The future mother of your children realizes she'd rather not be? That means a night out on the town with the raucous friends she always hated. But while nightlife offers an escape from being tied down – and often results in getting tied up to things like bedposts – clubs hardly set the stage for the start of a romance, or at least not the kind that lasts beyond a few good lays. This begs a "Sex and the City" sort of question: Can you really find that special someone at Skybar in between a string of kamikaze shots?

It would seem so. Aren't clubs and bars the places you go to meet people? Sure, nightlife serves as the most common domain for socializing with strangers. The irony is that men and women alike are weary of Clubland affairs. Even if there is a genuine attraction to the person you purposely bumped into on the dance floor and subsequently downed drinks and made out with, it'll be difficult to take anything seriously. After all, it would be naive to think you were the first to stick your tongue down his or her throat in the VIP room. That's because the context in which club encounters take place is fashioned for cumming and going. The bumping, the grinding, the hooting and hollering – it's all about getting off and getting on. Fulfillment? Forget it. Those with the long-term in the back of their heads are only setting themselves up for a downer.

At this point you're probably wondering what the hell has occurred in my life to warrant such a change of heart. Up till now, this column has been a staunch supporter of temporarily satisfying, meaningless sex with people you'll only run into again outside the restroom at the same club you coincidentally met them in. But I'm getting sick of it all: the childish head games, the anxiety over possible pregnancies, the Chlamydia. To answer, Jefferson Airplane: "Yeah, I need somebody to love." Now, for those like me who sincerely yearn for an end to mornings where you wake up next to a person you'd never have fucked in the first place if it weren't for an overconsumption of alcohol, here's a clue: there's a place where singles worth hooking up with can be found on a weekly basis… and it ain't no club. It's the supermarket on Monday nights. I'm serious. Young professionals typically do their groceries after work at the beginning of the week. Don't believe me? Visit the supermarket in a metropolitan neighborhood on any given Monday and you'll find a deli that doubles as pickup central. Think about it. What packs more sexual innuendo than asking for a nice cut of ham or beef? I'm hot and bothered just thinking about that moment when somebody is given a slice of lunchmeat for a taste test. Oh boy... I need a sandwich.

I can see you… but not like, in a stalker way or anything like that.
- HG

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