Rave all you want about the fabulous South Beach nightlife. But serious clubbers have known for years that Space in downtown Miami is the place to go when you really want to let loose and lose yourself in the best progressive house and trance beats in the world - till way past sunrise.
Seriously, when you have out-of-town visitors who want to experience what the Miami club scene is all about, Space is where you take them. Why else would the club's motto be "Who Needs Sleep?" And why else would Space have lasted for 10 years, a freaking eternity for a nightclub in these parts? The cream of the crop of internationally beloved DJs - including Danny Tenaglia, Paul van Dyk, Paul Oakenfold, Deep Dish, Sander Kleinenberg, Tiesto, Roger Sanchez, Sasha & Digweed, you get the idea - routinely drop sick sets at Space, especially during Winter Music Conference..
On the night of Saturday, May 22, Space celebrates its 10-year anniversary, with all its musical partners in crime you love so much, including local heroes Ivano Bellini, Oscar G, Cedric Gervais, Roland and the ringleader himself, Louis Puig.
Club Space's director, Emi Guerra, who has been with Space from the beginning, talked to Miami.com about what a long, strange trip it's been.
Ten years is ridiculous for a club to survive here. Did you ever imagine Space would be so successful?
Of course not. Come on! I remember opening up, and I remember that neighborhood being what it was, and I remember people saying we were crazy for trying to do that, especially in the area we were in. But I think at the time it was revolutionary, and fortunately it caught on and the DJs loved it, and the rest is all she wrote.
How much concern was there at the beginning that you'd be able to draw people downtown?
Well, at first, the approach was, we are here, don't go to the Beach, come downtown. And it was an educational marketing plan to let the people know where we were. Obviously, now it's turned into more of a destination, because we've been voted No. 1 club in the U.S. by DJ Magazine several times.
What is it about Space that keeps it going strong?
I think it's the overall experience. The experience of being able to dance at a venue, and I think a lot of the clubs have lost that. Everyone's just kind of sitting around at tables now, looking at each other, posing. We still have VIPs and still partake in that, but really the Space experience is being able to get sort of lost and able to let yourself go, whether it's midnight or 8 in the morning.
Were the world's top DJs on board from the start?
It took a minute. I remember the first really big party was when Danny Tenaglia played in 2000 for his 25th anniversary as a DJ. It was Winter Music Conference, and we opened up at 9 o'clock at night and closed at 5 in the afternoon the next day. I think more than 5,000 people showed up that night, and his party really helped spread the word in the industry - people got to see a warehouse venue with great sound and lighting, and it really turned the DJs on to us. And the thing that makes it magical is obviously the ability to stay open late hours. DJs don't really have the opportunity to perform for long periods of time.
Why did Space move up the street to the new venue after a couple of years?
It was to take Space to the next level. [Owner] Louis [Puig] was the one to have that vision. It was a culmination of things - our lease was running out and there was the opportunity to buy the building.
I know a lot of people miss the old Space. To you, is the new Space bigger and better?
It is bigger, and it's technically more advanced. The old Space has this nostalgia to it - "Oh, the old Space was better! Oh, whatever!" If we were to open up the old Space today, and you'd compare it to the new Space, people would gravitate to the new one. It's a better facility overall, a better experience overall. But the old Space does have that nostalgia - it's like your high-school crush, your first love. It's probably a lot of people's first love with dance music and real afterhours, so everybody has that nostalgia.
What are some of your fondest memories at Space?
I remember the city block not having enough water pressure opening week, and us having to take apart fire hydrants to run water into the building just so toilets could flush. I remember the Danny Tenaglia party, seeing people standing in line at 9 o'clock at night and then the next day at 4 o'clock in the afternoon when we closed the club, I saw the same guy walking out. [laughs]. I remember the first time we shot our nitrogen machine's blast and people freaking out and wondering what that was, and how they really dug it. There are a lot of memories.
Danny Tenaglia, Carl Cox, Paul Oakenfold, our first New Year's Eve...Those are great ones. When you see people's faces and they get something they don't expect - their appreciation, it's priceless.
What about times that aren't so good, like the girl from out of town who was at Space with her boyfriend, then left and was murdered later. How do things like that and the news coverage that follows affect the club?
You know, lately, there has been a lot of negative press on Space and the area, whether it's been police incidents or noise issues or in that case, a death. But again, bad press always makes more noise than the good things that you've done. Like, no one knows that Space has contributed $600,000 to homeless tax in the area. There's a lot of good we've done to the community. But the bad stuff happens, and we just try to keep going, you know? We don't publicize everything we do. I mean, we sent a team of doctors out to Haiti and we didn't send out a press release about it. So how are they gonna report on how good a neighbor we are? That stuff doesn't get covered. It's not anything anyone wants to hear about.
It's not "sexy" enough for the news, huh?
Right, I mean, with that girl, Space doubled the reward. I believe her sister put a $15,000 reward out and Louis matched it, if somebody were to come up with the information. So we, too, want to find the perpetrator even though it didn't happen at Space. As a matter of fact, people are safer in Space. The reason she got kicked out is 'cause she was being beat up, to be honest with you. Her and her boyfriend were fighting, they were getting aggressive, so we asked them to leave. "Beat up" is the wrong word. But the couple got into an altercation and the guy had to go. But they're safe when they're in our venue.
Do you have any idea how many clubs have come and gone since Space opened?
Wow - it's definitely in the hundreds. And we're still here, and we're still strong.
Take Me To Space