Miami nightclub review: Dante’s stereo in Wynwood

On a recent Saturday night, a short stroll down a rare lane in Wynwood leads to a manicured yard on NW 26th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Although she tries to be discreet, the lonely black door immediately catches the eye. From the outside, there is no idea what lies beyond, and maybe it is for the best.

Dante’s HiFi isn’t looking to be Miami’s next mega-club or – God forbid – another Tulum-inspired hotspot. Instead, its claim to fame is more modest: it’s the city’s first Japanese-style listen bar.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, listening bars in Japan are an audiophile’s dream – a place where you can sit, drink, and feast your ears on the expertly curated playlist. The quality of the speakers, amps, turntables and mixers is just as important as the cocktails served. As the resident advisor on culture notes: “It is rooted in the joy of discovering music and listening to that music in the best possible environment.

This means that Dante’s isn’t the kind of place where the music is so loud that your only option is to dance to the furniture while the sparklers go off every five minutes. Here you are supposed to sit down, speak in a low voice and, most importantly, Listen.

Dante breaks the mold in other ways. Miami hospitality has a less than stellar import record of East Asian trends, often falling back on cultural stereotypes that are trite and problematic at best or racist at worst.

Dante’s HiFi respects the Japanese concept the most. There’s nothing purely Japanese about the decor – not an anime schoolgirl, geisha, or bento box in sight. In fact, the only argument you could make about Dante’s Japanese appearance is the minimalism and attention to detail often associated with culture. Warm tones and natural materials make the small space beautiful and relaxed.

Click to enlarge Dante's Exterior - PHOTO BY WORLD RED EYE

Dante’s exterior

Photo from World Red Eye

The only idea of ​​Dante’s Japanese inspiration is on his drink menu, which eschews gimmicks like drink names with the words “Kamikaze” and “Me So Horny”, with ingredients like Japanese whiskey, wine. of plum and yuzu liquor made in just a handful of cocktails. (Cocktails are priced at $ 14 and are meant to be sipped, not drunk.)

This is how we pay homage to a culture without making fun of it.

The people behind the concept are a who’s who of hospitality and music industry professionals: Arturo Nuñez, Sven Vogtland, Alan Drummond, Rich Medina and Jourdan Binder. Medina was chosen as Dante’s musical director – a big blow to the project. The Philadelphia-based mixmaster is known the world over for his musical expertise and ability behind the decks.

In fact, the records that patrons see neatly stored on the shelves behind the bar all belong to Medina.

“I love my job,” Medina says of the DJ. “I love what I do. I feel like I’m in my vocation.”

At last month’s premiere, Medina was behind the decks, playing music ranging from Afrobeat to soft rock. During his set, he stopped to talk about one particular record of the Amazons of Guinea, a group made up of all female soldiers in the Guinean militia, giving the attentive audience a boost to explore unknown sounds from their palaces. westerners.

In an ordinary bar, playing something so awkward would be discouraged, but Dante’s is a DJ bar, where exploration is expected.

For Medina, 51, a DJ since the age of 10, working on a project like Dante’s was obvious. It is a place that celebrates the analog format.

Click to enlarge Dante's musical director Rich Medina - PHOTO BY WORLD RED EYE

Dante’s musical director Rich Medina

Photo from World Red Eye

“To have the opportunity to represent stereo sounds and the musical range and to bring an educational component to Miami where there has been a gaping hole in its club and its musical culture is a blessing,” he says.

Part of that education came in the form of Medina lending her record collection to the bar, where it serves as a sort of public library for guest DJs. He sees it as an opportunity to broaden people’s musical knowledge.

“Music is the fruit of the world, and there is a theme for everything: if you are broke, if you are rich; if you are happy, if you are sad; if you are young, if you are old; if you are in love, if you’re heartbroken, “he says.” It’s an opportunity to show people the full 360. ”

Medina also sees Dante as a throwback to analog – a throwback that many people discovered during the pandemic. Vinyl sales increased during the lockdown as people were left with time to devote themselves to new hobbies like collecting records. While the ability to have the entire catalog of world music available to you on your phone is revolutionary, there is something to be said about the ritual of placing a vinyl record on a turntable and sitting down for it. listen to it.

“The idea of ​​getting together to listen and discuss music – it starts in the homes of people sitting around a record player and enjoying a piece of music with family or with a group of friends”, explains Medina. “There’s a special power in there. Miami is Las Vegas, part two – it’s loud, it’s fast, it’s furious. We slow down the tempo, taking a few decibels out of the volume, adding a dimension to the soundscape, and give people a way to experience music in true stereo sound compared to the digital, compressed and down-mixed MP3 language that they are used to consuming nowadays. ”

To maintain this feeling of privacy, the maximum capacity of the room is set at 50 people. Reservations can be secured in advance and membership plans are available for those looking for guaranteed entry. (E-mail [email protected] for details and prices.)

In the end, Dante’s HiFi tries to get Miami out of its comfort zone. And with the city’s nightlife seemingly becoming more seamless and less risk-averse, it’s something to (politely) applaud.

Dante’s hi-fi system. 526 NW 26th St., Miami; instagram.com/danteshifi. Reservations are strongly encouraged and can be made through exploretock.com/danteshifi.

Jerry C. Greiner