Title

No sleep in Miami

Published September 23rd, 2015

All that glitters is gold in Miami, especially when you're there to celebrate. Last year, I ventured down south to the US state of Florida for a friend's birthday and parked at the iconic Fontainebleau Miami Beach, the massive, sprawling oceanside resort with stellar views of the Atlantic.

No complaints from the balcony of my 16th-floor suite, where I'm reminded of the pop cultural history of the place. Opened in 1954 and designed by the legendary Morris Lapidus, it's one of the grandest and most beautiful hotels in Miami Beach, a town full of great hotels. In the 1950s and '60s, the hotel was a favourite playground of Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and the Rat Pack, and it starred in the sweeping, opening aerial shot of James Bond's Goldfinger in 1964.

The Fontainebleau made a bold move into its future, undergoing a massive, $US1 billion ($A1.4 billion) renovation that brought in 1,500 rooms, celebrity chef restaurants, nightclubs, and a 3,720-square-metre spa. This is a the place to come to live large.

Welcome to clubland. What's your Story? Picture: Kate Donnelly

In da club

And in fact, fun and decadence were the theme of the weekend. I was with some serious Las Vegas club-goers, so it was only a matter of time before I found myself at Story, an epic club on a night headlined by DJ Chuckie.

The place was alive and bursting with scantily clad, costumed girls on stilts at the entrance welcoming the crowd. Inside, the women are half-clothed. They're not quite burlesque in a striptease way but they're frisky and risque.

It's all part of the act, over-exaggerated, theatrical and perverse. The entire scene felt like a mod spin on a Moulin Rouge variety show crossed with the costume-y flair of Marie Antionette.

Story Nightclub Wild nights out in Miami. Image: Kate Donnelly

On stage, Chuckie spins progressive house without filter, and it's a full-blown production of laser-sharp lights and disco balls. The music and room shake and pulsate, heads bop up and down, hands and arms wave in the air, the lights illuminating faces and dance moves while whistles and confetti explode in the air every time the cork pops off a magnum of Dom Perignon, which happens often.

Sometime around 4am, we left the new and sauntered into the classic, Jerry's Famous Deli, for grilled cheeses and French fries. The sun was showing her face as I drew the curtains in my room. It was the theme of the weekend that never let up: No rest for the ageless wicked.

Story nightclub Confetti makes the party. Image: Kate Donnelly

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But wait, there's more

Miami right now is all high glamour, rhythmic music and Champagne dreams. It's Vegas at the beach. Here are my highlights:

A Downtown Miami dinner at the mod, warmly lit sushi shrine Zuma, where the tasting menu, a diverse range of tastes and textures, is best accompanied by a stellar bottle of nigori (unfiltered sake).

A late night spin at Hyde Beach, the lounge at the swank SLS Hotel, reminded me of a Boogie Nights set without Marky Mark. A refreshing break from slick-mod Miami, it's all wood-panelled walls, low ceilings, warm bar tiki table lights, well-worn bookcases, and vintage surfer paraphernalia.

Lunch at San Pocho in Little Havana, where I ate well-seasoned and massive portions of Colombian comfort food: empanadas and sancocho (meat-and-vegetable soup). I stopped into the attached shop for Colombian gifts of straw hats and coffee.

At a poolside cabana at the Fontainebleau with the birthday girl and assorted pals, I channelled the gin rummy game between Goldfinger and James Bond. Afterwards, we headed to the blue-hued Bleau Bar for pre-dinner drinks, stopping to admire the stunning chandeliers created by Chinese artist Ai WeiWei. A perfect start to the evening.

The bright lights of Miami await the reveller. Picture: Getty Images

A 9pm dinner at Baoli was an equally impressive birthday show. Constant sparklers in motion. We kicked off the evening with the seafood tower piled high with oysters, lobster, prawns, scallops, king crab legs and stone crab claws and a few bottles of rose.

Dinner was handmade pappardelle ai fungi with portobello and porcini, and I'm officially stuffed. More fireworks and sparklers make their way through the attractive crowd.

Another bottle of Dom arrives. The music is blaring. It's dark and the long wooden table is encased in candlelight and a good-looking crowd. So this is what it's like to live in a rap video.

Before leaving town, I wound down with a delicious if expensive $US18 ($A25) mojito (apparently, they're printing money in Miami) at the venerable Delano Hotel. Perched behind a pair of dark shades watching the pool crowd spells out a new study in voyeurism.


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Author: Kate Donnelly

This article originally appeared on Fathom.

This article was from Fathom and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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