Prince’s best Miami moments from a nightlife insider

UPDATE 4/21/2017: A year after the world lost Prince, we reflect on his greatest Miami moments. 

The late, great Prince kept us partying like it was 1999 in Miami from the ’80s and ’90s into the 2000s — and no doubt will long after his untimely passing. Scene in the Tropics columnist Lesley Abravanel breaks down some unforgettable times the Minneapolis-born Prince Rogers Nelson graced us with his royal presence.

March 2006: According to spies at Prive, the musician, wearing a custom-made baby blue suit with matching boots, was hanging tight with his female band members and drag legend Elaine Lancaster. “His ladies doted on his every move,” said a spy, “closing all the vents around his table because he was chilly, and then one of them ran out to get a specific bottle of wine that Prive didn’t carry.” The following night at Prince’s Mansion concert, Lenny Kravitz showed up to watch the legend play in the [Glam Slam] space he once owned. “Lenny was bopping his head along as Prince sang a slew of his old favorites like ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ and ‘Purple Rain’,” says a witness. Later, Kravitz took the stage and hit the bongos, channeling Sheila E. to the tune of “When Doves Cry.”

December 2007: Jeffrey Soffer, heir to the Turnberry throne, threw himself a 40th birthday spectacular (to the tune of $2 million, we heard) in the Turnberry Aviation hangar at the Opa-locka Executive Airport. Besides the elaborate open bars, constantly flowing Veuve Cliquot and gourmet food served in that inimitable, over-the-top Karla Dascal way, Soffer hired his Purple Majesty to perform a private concert for a few hundred of his closest friends.

It wasn’t just a quick sampling of Prince’s greatest hits, either. It was a full-blown concert (he sang “Cream,” “Purple Rain,” “1999,” “U Got the Look,” “Controversy,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” “I Feel For You,” “Nothing Compares 2 U” and several others), featuring backup singers, dancing twins, brass band.

The legend seemed to be in his element, happy to perform for such an intimate crowd. He also spoke to and made eye contact with the crowd — a rarity. At one point, Prince invited dazed and dazzled audience members to join him on stage for a group dance. Spotted plotzing in the crowd: DJ Tracy Young; movie director Brett Ratner; Ingrid Casares with A-Rod; Rony Seikaly and Jorge Perez. Soffer family friends James Caan and George Hamilton came up on stage to wish Jeffrey a fab 40. There was no need to wish such a thing. It was beyond fab, and at least for one night, 40 was the new 20 and 30.

January 2008: When Prince was in town the previous year for the Super Bowl, he dined at Atrio at the Conrad Hotel and told chef Michael Gilligan that next time he was in town he’d be back. Well, he made good on his promise. According to sources, Prince walked in unannounced, asking for Chef Gilligan, who asked the funky one what he was in the mood for.

The rocker was in the mood for something really, really creamy — perhaps he was just listening to his own song, “Cream.” Chef sent out sweet potato soup with Grand Marnier and made a decadent risotto with truffles. “Prince just sat there eating, very politely and completely alone,” said our source. After dinner, Prince headed to Little Havana, where he stopped by Hoy Como Ayer to check out the Spam Allstars.

Prince also visited Prime Blue Grille with, according to our source, “a charming lady.” The two had an impromptu dinner in the private dining room overlooking the bay. “They came in through the back door. It was very hush-hush.” A few nights later, he stopped by Jazid, deciding to play guitar with the band Xperimento — again, impromptu. Then again three nights later, he returned to the haunt to jam with Suenalo.