Miami. One of the top clubbing destinations in the world, and arguably the best in the United States (more on that in the future.) In the 80’s, the Cocaine Cowboys built this city on pretentious, materialistic values that are very much present to this day. But if you like your venues full of beautiful people, nice clothes, and bright lights, you’re going to love this town in 2014.
The space dates back to the early 1990’s, when it shared its name, ownership and design with southern France’s original open-air Amnesia for most of the decade. The club was later redesigned as a multi room, Asian inspired restaurant, lounge and nightclub called the Opium Garden and remained a Miami hotspot through the 2000’s before being shut down as the result of consistent noise violations. The original owners, along with fellow Frenchman and iconic DJ, Bob Sinclair, once again took the reigns with the goal of returning the space to a fulltime nightclub. A roof was added, the building underwent a full redesign, and the new 26,000 square-foot space was renamed Amnesia, in 2010. Unfortunately, the space felt almost immediately outdated with its white lattice décor and in 2012, ownership was reallocated once again.
David Grutman, founder of the South Beach icon LIV at the Fontainebleau as well as its downstairs neighbor, Arkadia, aptly renamed the club walls once again. His team took over the sorely dated Amnesia and closed its doors for a top-to-bottom transformation. Unveiled in December of 2012, just in time for a slew of New Years week parties hosted by A-list performers, Amnesia has faded to a forgettable pastime while Story became the talk of the town in its inaugural year.
While Grutman’s other clubs offer some of the strictest door policies in the industry, Story offers the same level of class, without making the average music seeker feel as if they are unwelcome, should they lack the ability to boast about a generous trust fund. Don’t get me wrong; there is money at Story. On any given night the most expensive table in the house is likely to result in a bill that resembles the sticker price of a new economy car. But, the doormen are generally friendly and the majority of the entrants are normal ticket purchasing patrons, not youths waving their Centurion card in the face of bouncers for a spot beyond the velvet rope.
Once you enter the iconic white building, your eyes are guaranteed to open as wide as any venue could possibly command. The building has quite literally been gutted, leaving only the 2nd floor mezzanine layout, Funktion One sound system, and 6 moving LED screens above the stage in its wake. In a drastic departure from its history, the walls are now dark and littered with LED’s. The white lattice railings have been replaced with glass, and where the thin narrow pillars that supported the roof once stood, now sits illuminated, twisting towers of alligator skin.
There is no shortage of bars or VIP space in Story. Once known for its 70 VIP options, the space retains its “stadium style” tables. Although seemingly less crowded than in years past, they outline the large dance floor and stack upwards toward the second floor, as well as outlining the balcony and filling the restricted backstage area.
Where the night sky once was in full view now hangs the most impressive light compilation we have ever seen, short of the 2014 halftime show at Met Life Stadium’s Super Bowl XLVII. It is seriously impressive and almost difficult to describe, as there are so many layers and individual elements that make up an extremely complicated, but very well orchestrated array of colors. The old saying “you have to see it, to believe it,” has never been more applicable to a dance floor.
Boasting a Funktion One sound system, the audio somehow doesn’t leave the same impression as the lighting or room design. We suspect it hasn’t been updated since Bob Sinclair helped design it in 2010. Although not a weakness, it fails to impress in the same degree that the rest of the experience does. The main speakers are suspended about 10 feet in front of the DJ booth, and thus around 10 feet past the front of the dance floor. This means the ideal listening point is actually the back center of the dancing area, and anything close to the DJ booth is slightly, but noticeably, impaired.
One factor that we suspect will keep Story open longer than any of its predecessors is its diversified portfolio of regular talent. While other Miami venues are strongly divided on the type of acts they bring in, Story can offer everything from an Ultra Main Stage headliner to a foreign underground act that on the precipice of fame. Underground Story is a party dedicated to the lesser known, but equally talented acts that fill the Saturday night spot in the offseason, and Thursday nights in the summer. With major promoters such as Link, Miami Rebels, and international house parties such as Marco Carola’s Music On and Guy Gerber’s Wisdom of the Glove hosting their own nights, there is sure to be an event suiting your taste should you want to check out Story on your next visit to South Beach. The real question is, why wouldn’t you?
Story is already building it’s lineup of nonstop parties for the world famous Winter Confrence at the end of March, in addition to hosting its own stage on Saturday at Ultra Music Festival with a lineup that marries two of 2013’s hottest labels, Dirtybird and Diynamic. For upcoming events, tickets and information, visit Story’s website here. For details on the Underground Story stage at Ultra, check out the official lineup here.