Thursday's sky was gray over Miami, but Jack Daniel's Motel No. 7 shone bright into the night. The two-day interactive concept kicked off strong, bringing friends together under the joyful banner of thematic shenanigans, great tunes, and booze. The Tennessee whiskey converted the Wynwood Arts District's 3,000-capacity Soho Studios into a rustic, neon-lit roadhouse. Guests lined in the hundreds at 9 pm sharp to “check in” at the front desk where they received actual keys paired with swipe cards, one's ticket to digital “postcards” or photos taken at various interactions. Staff greeted well-dressed revelers in black and white hotelier uniforms. Men played perfect bellboys, little square hats and all. Women sold wooden drink tokens like cigarette girls or flit about as French maids.
Past check-in lay a wonderland of diversions. Party people played pinball or billiards while sipping Jack and ginger beer. Barrel man Kevin Sanders and Assistant Master Distiller Chris Fletcher were present to lead the barrel experience. Guests lined up by the makeshift salon and spun a wheel of fate to get a cut in styles ranging from mod to hip-hop, even a mohawk. Despite some light rain, people donned Jack Daniel's bathing suits and jumped in the pool or lounged on the wooden deck built special for the occasion on the patio. All throughout the space, Miami's Mike Deuce could be heard laying down a fat dance beat, spinning everything from Justin Bieber to Jay Z to get the party rockin' and ready for the main event—a special set from tribal house hero Robbie Rivera.
There were yet some surprises before he hit the stage. More VIP rooms revealed everything from a bachelorette party with karaoke to a bonafide wedding chapel. One happy couple said “I do” before strangers and friends. Congrats to Alex and Adri Cabili. “We're super happy,” he said. “We had Elvis do our wedding.” The favorite, “most exclusive” room at Motel no. 7 revealed a large, warm getaway the “White Rabbit Saloon.” The Miami Crooners, a full jazz band with a Sinatra-style singer, got couples dancing while the bar served delicious old fashions. It was almost too cool to leave, but there were bpms to be had.
Sometime around 11:30 p.m., a massive boom was heard and the vibe shifted into top gear. Rivera had taken the main stage in the big central room, and all heads turned toward the glowing green and red light. “Girl, I'll house you,” the music proclaimed as the floor threw its hands up and dropped it low. The Puerto Rican DJ's tribal rhythms are a perfect match for Miami's humid winter nights, and as the minutes ticked by, the music became more and more about the bass. By the end of the night, he was going all in, mixing out of house favorites and into modern hip-hop classics. was it weird to hear Rivera drop Chief Keef, Drake and Future? Absolutely not, because the 305 knows how to stanky leg, and we do it well. Last call came and went, and the crowd swag surfed it on out of there, but the fun didn't really end. There was a whole 'nother night of mischief to be unlocked the following night.