Nightlife in Miami is hot and heavy. The Latin influence dominates the scene, with jazz and rock also popular. Electronic and hip-hop music are favourites of the younger crowd. The most recent club revival started in South Beach and has spread across the county.
Clubs open and close quickly and regularly change names, locations and themes; finding them is a challenge even for the locals. Look in the Miami New Times, a free weekly publication, and on the Miami Herald's website (www.miamiherald.com/entertainment/nightlife). If a particular kind of music interests you, call some clubs and ask when it's available. A club may start the night with rock and later switch to a Latin beat. Many clubgoers migrate from venue to venue through the night.
Many hotels have on-site clubs that change their names, concepts and music types as often as the stand-alone clubs. It's the law in Florida that you have to be 21 or older to drink in clubs. Expect to be carded even if you're in your 30s.
South Beach is certainly Miami's uncontested nocturnal nucleus, but more and more diverse areas, such as the Design District, South Miami, and even Little Havana, are increasingly providing fun alternatives without the ludicrous cover charges, "fashionably late" hours of operation (things don't typically get started on South Beach until after 11pm), the lack of sufficient self-parking, and outrageous drink prices that come standard in South Beach.
And while South Beach dances to a more electronic beat, other parts of Miami dance to a Latin beat, from salsa and merengue to tango and cha cha. However, if you're looking for a less frenetic good time, Miami's bar scene offers something for everyone, from haute hotel bars to sleek, loungey watering holes.
Parts of downtown Miami, such as the Biscayne Corridor, the Miami River and the Design District are in the throes of a trendy makeover a la New York City's Meatpacking District, in which, slowly but surely, cool lounges, bars and clubs are popping up.
If you are interested in them, keep an eye out for celebrities. Some live in the Miami area, and others wander through to participate in Florida's billion-dollar-a-year entertainment industry or just to play.
Miami also offers a variety of first-rate diversions in theatre, music and dance, including a world-class ballet, a recognised symphony, and a talented opera company. The brand new Cesar Pelli-designed, $446-million Miami Performing Arts Center is the focal point for the arts, created to prove to the world that Miami isn't as shallow and devoid of culture as people once thought.
Even with all the Blockbuster Video stores (the chain's billionaire founder lives in the Miami area), locals and visitors continue to flock to the closest cinema for the big screen experience. Catch mainstream films at multiplex theaters like the Mayfair Cinemas in Coconut Grove. For state-of-the-art facilities, visit the luxurious Regal Cinemas 18 in South Beach, or the spacious AMC Theatres 24 in the Aventura Mall. There are also several smaller theatres with a bit more history and an interesting selection of features.
No matter what the season, the stage is always set in Miami. Whether it's a Broadway road show or a local production, the audience is sure to be dazzled. The nationally acclaimed Coconut Grove Playhouse is famous for premiering shows that go on to successful runs in New York. In the elegant Biltmore Hotel, GableStage offers an exciting season of Florida premieres and New York hits. The Actor's Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre also offers quality productions by a talented residential troupe. The Miami Light Project – a non-profit organisation that produces music, dance and theatre – has the freshest talent in town. Teatro Avante produces the annual International Festival of Hispanic Theatre and presents regular performances in Spanish. Miami's cultural venues are as intriguing for their appearance as for the performances on their stages. From the sophisticated setting of the Jackie Gleason Theater to the charming Art Deco design of the Colony Theatre, audiences have much to admire during intermission.
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