A trip to Orlando provided a perfect opportunity to visit the nightlife of a city where clubs like Visage, The Edge, Firestone, and Southern Nights first shaped my musical tastes. The emerging rave scene of the 90s at the Edge and the progressive house scene of the legendary Firestone afterhours events were groundbreaking on a national level.
The evening started on Church Street with a visit to the Dragon Room. The vibe is clearly upscale with tasteful lighting, a metal curtain, and a draping setup to make the room flow. The front door staff was respectful and the wait staff was classy, but most importantly the DJ was perfect. Starting with an empty room, Kid Nemesis started with a touch of hip-hop and top 40 and gradually built into a mix of house, urban, rock and classics. It takes a talented DJ to program a room with such a diverse crowd and Nemesis was on. A peak in the booth saw Kid working Serato Scratch live with Technics turntables and a rane mixer. With such a variety of music at his disposal, Nemesis' mixes were on point and got the crowd partying.
Next door is Mako's, yes, the home of that tragic reality show "Wild Girls of Mako's" that MTV featured during spring breadown. Greeted by various girls with those huge angry silicon implants in way too short and slutty plaid skirts, it seemed like their hands were in my wallet trying to take what they could. The online descriptions of the "hostesses" as girls from Polk County with tramp stamps seemed quite astute. The one highlight was a guy wearing a t-shirt saying "Morons drink spirits. Smart guys exorcise." I am not sure if it was the horrible music being played on a nasty sounding high-pitched treble-y sound system or the overwhelming smell (and feel) of skank that forced such a quick exit, but a hasty retreat was made.
A bit further up the block and way higher up the food chain is Bliss, a very classy high end lounge. Walking in, the first impression is dramatic glass chandeleirs lit beautifully, tasteful video screens, and a great sound system - clear enough to feel the music but at a great volume where you could talk to the person next to music. Describing the music, hmm, when you walk into a club to a classy, updated remix of Inner City's "Big Fun," you know you're in for some good music. DJ Mickey Bono (of the k5 crew) entertained the crowd with a mix of electro, european house, mashups, and commercial remixes. Using Serato Scratch Live with Pioneer CDJ players as controllers, the mixes were smooth if not flawless. Programming the mix of new unknown music with classics and pop hits, Mickey had everyone dancing and moving. I occasionally saw sparklers shooting flames which I soon discovered to be the way the beautiful waitresses presented the bottles ordered for bottle service. This same class was also in evidence with the go-go dancers that were sexy and tasteful as opposed to the trash I had seen at Mako's. It just goes to show you that the beauty in nightlife can be quite classy.