Unless you know where you’re going, there’s nothing to announce Libertine’s presence next to Club Space other than a flickering red street lamp and a hulking bouncer planted at the door. No velvet ropes, no peeling flyers, no look-at-me neon signs and marquees – just a slightly sketchy doorway and the ominous red glow of that lamp.
Its obscurity, however, is part of its appeal. If you know where to go, it’s because you heard about it from somebody or have become a weekend regular, and you know that stepping through the doorway is like falling down the rabbit hole into a wonderland where Art Deco chandeliers hang from the ceiling and the floor is made out of thousands of pennies. It’s not entirely a bar, although their mixology program is off the chain. And it isn’t completely a club, although they do host a top notch selection of local DJs and big name artists. “It’s not a Space, it’s not a Corner,” said Michelle Leshem, Creative Director at Libertine. “At the end of the day it’s two in one. We’ve got the bar vibes from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m., but we also continue the party from 5 a.m. onward, and you don’t really have that anywhere else. It’s a more community-oriented place.”
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At Libertine, there’s no such thing as ‘After Hours,’ only ‘Late Night,’ and you’re welcome to keep the night going “’till whenever.” But aside from the non-stop party policy and creative cocktail offerings, the real selling points at Libertine are the atmosphere and the soundtrack. Curated by Leshem herself, the music ranges on any given night from The Bravery and Red Hot Chili Peppers to Blondie and Nancy Sinatra.
“We want to play music that’s approachable yet sophisticated, where a 50-year-old could totally like it and a 23-year-old is like ‘this is awesome, this is forever,'” said Leshem. “My iPod is a mismatch of stuff that just fits, that makes you want to dance to it. We want to keep an element of nostalgia, but I also think it needs to be fun, house party style, as if you’re coming over to my place for a party.”
The result is a soundtrack that makes you feel as though you’re reliving sepia-toned memories from the night before it’s even ended – exactly the effect Leshem and her team is going for.
The concept of the speakeasy isn’t exactly foreign to Miami, but in a city dominated by velvet rope clubs Libertine certainly offers a welcome alternative to partygoers looking to have a unique experience without breaking the bank (or busting their eardrums).
“Most of the clubs here build their music around tables – it’s all bottle service and there’s no real dance floor,” said Nathan Glebler, Libertine’s General Manager. “You don’t get a deal on your bottle either – basically you’re buying the real estate and that’s something we didn’t want to do.”
Instead, banquettes at Libertine are offered on a first-come-first-serve basis, unless you call ahead and make a reservation. If you spy an empty booth or sofa, you’re welcome to sit down and rest your feet – no bottle service necessary.
There’s also no cover policy, ever.
“We don’t want to do a cover charge at Libertine, will not do it, even if its a big name artist that costs a lot of money, because then you’re paying for your entertainment,” said Nathan.
To many Miamians, it’s a heck of a deal, especially considering the constant slew of unique events Libertine hosts in the intimate venue, the most recent being a “late night” Friday party created as an extension of the Electric Pickle’s legendary Friday night fetes.
Overall, Libertine is one of those rare spots that brings the complete package: from the drinks and decor, to the crowd and atmosphere, this hidden gem manages to nail it on every base. The only hard part is knowing when to call it a night, because at Libertine everything is “’till whenever.”