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Night Moves

New Yorkers Mark Birnbaum and Eugene Remm jump into the South Beach velvet rope game with the debut of SL.

Mark Birnbaum and Eugene Remm of EMM Group are the minds behind the SL nightclub at the James hotel.

The venue monikers on Collins Avenue are starting to resemble a Mercedes-Benz lineup. Hot on the heels of the SLS hotel comes SL nightclub, a coincidence that’s bound to get lost in translation when the global masses of Basel descend on the city next month for their annual party hop. Add to that the fact that the SL is in the James Royal Palm, a hotel just blocks from the SLS. Not to worry, its owners assure us. EMM Group’s first venture outside Manhattan and the Hamptons, which reinforces South Beach’s identity as New York’s (sunnier) sixth borough, is all about standing apart from the pack.

“Miami is the closest place to us geographically and lifestyle-wise that made sense for our initial expansion beyond our home turf,” says partner Eugene Remm. “We already have tons of clients who visit and live down here, and the hotel had the right look and space for SL, which isn’t that easy to find anymore near the water.”

To ensure that their foray into 33139’s velvet rope scene isn’t short-lived (a fate all too common as of late), Remm and partners Mark Birnbaum and Michael Hirtenstein thought it wise to collaborate with South Beach nightlife veterans Marko Gojanovic and Michael Malone, who have worked their magic on every VIP-geared club in town, from Mansion to LIV, through their A-list promotion and hospitality firm Your World Entertainment. To the amazement and frustration of other clients, Gojanovic and Malone decided to partner exclusively with SL. “We’ve known them a long time in their city and as New York party hosts,” says Birnbaum. “They’re the best at what they do in Miami.”

For their Miami entry, EMM has opted for a more intimate footprint, as opposed to the big-box layout of nearby haunts. As they see it, it’s the patrons, not size, that dictate a club’s energy. Intimate doesn’t necessarily mean chill, however. The soundtrack will still lean toward house music and guests will dance—albeit in close proximity to the open-format DJ booth, where spin talent will be of both local and New York provenance. “People will be able to dance everywhere,” says Remm. “There isn’t a bad spot.”

Or a bad drink for that matter. Mixology at SL ups the ante on traditional bottle service with mixers like mint-infused pink lemonade and watermelon juice made fresh daily—a definite improvement from the usual carafes of cheap cranberry and orange juices at other establishments. Further enhancing the creature comforts will be the club’s sleek decor, which features all sorts of visual pyrotechnics: LED panels, for instance, will play original content that ranges from 3-D graphics to precipitation scenes that make it appear as if it’s actually raining inside the club (the most captivating visuals are backlit X-rays of varying human and animal anatomy).

That all brings us to the big question: Who will get to see all this excess? Remm says to expect a discerning, yet democratic, door policy reminiscent of Steve Rubell’s approach at Studio 54. “Money doesn’t just want to be around money,” he offers. “We want more of a salad with all sorts of interesting ingredients.”