You think every building in Miami looks white up until the minute you walk into the lobby of The Edition hotel, and then you think, now this is white. It’s like seeing whiteness for the first time, the inverse of going camping somewhere semi-remote and realizing you’ve never actually experienced the dark before. Then there’s the white felt pool table with white marble trim that must weigh a thousand pounds. White high-backed chairs, suitable thrones for benevolent, technologically superior aliens. Beautiful people of all colors and depths of tan in white shirts and white shoes and white, short dresses.
It’s Saturday night, just after midnight, and you want to go to a club. There’s one in the basement of The Edition that just opened last week, you heard someone say. But your day was spent drinking caipirinha on the beach, your evening working a wine and food festival also on the beach, and the sun and the wobbly, wealthy attendees have taken it out of your coworkers. You know nobody else in town. So you branch out, befriend a group of strangers, the friends of a colleague long since gone to bed. You order an $18 cocktail on the patio bar and pray that you have not yet exceeded your per diem. You casually mention the club to the strangers. They seem eager. You get in the very long line. But then one of the girls disappears to have a quick drink with a friend (?), and then you’re at the front of the line but the guys, a Chicagoan and an Ohioan, aren’t willing to pay the $20 cover (??), and there’s the issue of what if the girl who left comes back and can’t find us (???), so you and the strangers hover on the sad side of the velvet rope, waiting, texting, scheming.
Another club, Bodega, gets mentioned. It’s across town and supposed to be cool and someone thinks there’s no cover. You casually mention that this is South Beach and clubs have covers here and the beers cost $12 after the service fee and additional tip so what’s $20 to check it out. But the group of strangers to whom you’re basically wed at this point bails on the club at the death, goes to find the missing girl. She’s happily drinking at a second hotel bar, one with a wall plastered with red photos of bullfighters, with the guy she casually hooks up with back home. He’s there with a friend, both of them servers at Alinea, in town for a pop-up dinner after a month long stint of the same in Madrid. They say their hotel blows this place out of the water. They’re talking bidets. They’re talking their boss in a $2,100 suite. You can’t fathom how white it must be.
The first group of strangers is tiring or claiming to tire and they head home, $20 bills in their wallets safe and sound. So you successfully transition into this next group of strangers, the girl and the servers. You casually mention the club downstairs. It’s so close and now, whatever time it is, 2:30, maybe not as busy. They agree to go. This is exciting. The girl just needs to find her credit card. She lost it earlier, but she knows it’s here somewhere, maybe on the ground. She’s going to look real quick. At the same time, one of the servers, the friend of the hook up, goes out to hit the ATM and pick up a pack of smokes. He’ll be back in a few minutes. This is good, you think. This is happening. You go to the bathroom, which is configured oddly, urinals in groups of four in their own small rooms, a big communal sink that nobody knows how to turn on. You see two guys go into the same handicapped bathroom stall. This is good, you think. You’re almost clubbing in Miami.
You come out of the bathroom and some time must have passed because the girl is crying, fighting with the boy who, instead of helping her look for her credit card, was talking to some other guys. The friend who went for smokes, perhaps practicing for fatherhood, never came back. And you start to think, maybe this isn’t happening. Maybe I should get the fuck out of here. You start to say as much but the girl and the guy beg you to stay, maybe because they wouldn’t know what to do alone, and then, lo and behold, the bartender emerges with the credit card, found buried in a bill sleeve. Then we are smiling and making our way downstairs to the club. The future bad father texts to say he is at a bar drinking alone. He has bequeathed the third wheel to you. But that’s okay, because you’ll be in the club soon.
There’s no line, just a slack velvet rope. On the way downstairs you are swimming upstream. Fighting against an exodus from the club a hundred strong. You stop one tan man and ask, what’s going on down there? And he says, It sucks, that’s what, and you say, Why? and he says, Bad ratio. A bad ratio is okay, you are not here for ratio-related reasons, but downstairs on the landing you decide the girl, who doesn’t need to pay cover, should take a peek in and scope it out, then report back. She does so and, upon return, makes the throat cutting sign. The club is Dead. You definitely don’t want to go in there. This is how you don’t even get to see what the club looks like. Instead, Bodega resurfaces. Someone’s heard it’s cool.
Three strangers take a weird cab ride across town, ask each other some basic questions. You know when you’re finally approaching Bodega because there’s a line outside that extends down the block. Your night is fucked. You wait in line for an obligatory 20 minutes without moving before the other members of your party give each other significant looks and say that they’re sorry, they really tried, but they have to drop out. It’s nearly four a.m.
Bodega, whose name reminds you fondly of the corner stores in Brooklyn, is a Mexican restaurant with a long, poorly lit hallway that opens up into a supposedly raucous club. A club that you will never know. But the restaurant is still open, so you go in and order some tacos. There’s a sign above the register that advocates excessive drinking. You eat alone at the counter, completely sober, then slip into a cab that’s waiting outside, waiting there for you.
Here’s some other stuff that happened:
– While I was laying out on the beach, a group of male tourists one row of chairs up amused themselves by feeding French fries to the seagulls. The result was: hundreds of flapping, cawing, dirty birds, blocking out the sun. One of them shit on my shin. The shit was brown. I guess it only turns white after baking for awhile in the sun. After I got shit on I called across the way, not entirely friendly-like, “Hey, can you not do that?” In response the fry thrower gave me a look that I don’t think I’ll ever forget, a look like, I want to kill you now, not kidding. What’s worse, a few minutes later a woman walked by and asked the guys where they’re from and one said “Dubai.” So I’m pretty sure that they were emirates and I spent the rest of the trip looking over my shoulder.
– A sales guy I work with told me that he met Guy Fieri at the festival and got to talk to him for an hour. He said he was actually a pretty normal and cool guy, but that at one point some random dude tried to worm his way into the conversation, trying to get a picture with Guy, and eventually Guy turned to him and said “Get the fuck away from me you fucking creep” in a low and intense voice and the dude ran away.
– The weather was beautiful except (“except”) for a couple partially cloudy days. When the sun got covered up the temperature dropped quickly, but I found I could warm my legs up by crossing them and letting the roasty top part of my leg heat up the cold bottom of my other leg, then switching. Just a helpful tip.
– Small planes drag banners just off the beach advertising tonight’s DJs
– My hotel pool area was full of fat, profoundly tan men in tight swimsuits wearing huge gold watches and talking animatedly on their phones.
– You can still smoke in bars in Florida and packs of cigarettes cost $7
– Cuban food is delicious. My suggestion is to skip the Cuban sandwich and order a plate of marinated pork with rice and beans and fried sweet plantains, paired with a limonada. I went to a divey counter seat spot called Playa Cafe and highly recommend it.
– I started every day sitting outside with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and a cappuccino
– I was constipated for the during of the trip
– My jeans reek of some unholy combination of smoke, meat, Italian food, and “Asian bites”