A report by Luis Gomes for the Miami New Times.
Three months ago, New Times named Basement Miami’s weekly party Jelly, known for playing early-2000s R&B and hip-hop, the place to be in Miami on Wednesdays. So why in the name of Cam’ron has the party been replaced with the more Caribbean-focused Coco Jelly?
This is Miami. The nightlife scene is constantly changing, for better or worse. And Basement liked what it saw from its monthly Caribbean party, Bashment, and wanted to see more of it.
“We decided to make it weekly based on the success we had with Bashment,” says Basement director of nightlife Burton Wilkins, who adds that hip-hop will continue to play in the Bowl section of the club on Wednesdays. “If you only play hip-hop, you’ll only draw hip-hop fans. This opens the door for more people. We’re expecting more of a Jamaican and Latin flair.”
The brains behind Bashment and now Coco Jelly are DJs Reid Waters and Silent Addy, who host the dancehall-heavy party Miami Vice Episode the first Sunday of every month at Gramps in Wynwood. They’ve been given the keys to Wednesdays at Basement, located in the Miami Beach Edition Hotel, and are determined to do more than just pull up Beenie Man and Vybz Kartel songs on their laptops. These are, after all, the same guys who have served jerk-chicken sliders at Bashment.
“Anyone can DJ,” Waters says. “We try to really pay attention to every detail and make the event as authentic as possible. We direct the lighting in a way that is more dancehally than clubby. We like it dark with maybe just a red or blue light. We’ll bring a dance crew (Karizma) to the parties. A lot of the music we play comes from Jamaica, and a lot of those songs have specific dances. Some call out the [dance] instructions in the song. Chi Ching Ching’s ‘Rock the World’ and ‘Way Up Stay Up’ both have dances. So does Ding Dong’s ‘Fling.’ If you know the dance, join in. If not, it’s something different that you haven’t seen.”
Coco Jelly will kick off this Wednesday and promises to deliver hip-swaying dancehall and reggae on a grander scale. That means Caribbean-themed decorations and staff outfits and the occasional live performance. Basement’s famous ice rink and bowling alley — which dancehall-dabbler and rapper Drake likes to rent out while in town — will be free for the ladies from 10 p.m. to midnight and offer complimentary slushies.
“We can’t show up and do that exact [Miami Vice Episode] party for a number of reasons,” Waters says. “We have to make it work within that environment and cater to South Beach while keeping intact what we do. There’ll probably be a little more hip-hop and Top 40 because it’s South Beach. Not everyone is showing up for the dancehall we like to play.
“At the end of the day, the job of the DJ is to entertain those in the room. But when the night hits its peak, we’ll make a statement.”
Coco Jelly. 10 p.m. Wednesdays at Basement Miami, 2901 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 786-641-7119; basementmiami.com. Admission is free.