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It's a little after midnight, and the room is already packed. A sweaty crowd is waving hands in the air, trying not to spill Budweisers and martinis, and dancing boisterously. As Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough" starts to play, a woman in a black, low-cut dress climbs up on the bar and begins to sway seductively, giving patrons below an eyeful.
South Beach on Saturday? Nope, it's downtown Hollywood on a Monday. The remarkable thing, though, is that this isn't some dark, swanky, VIP-list nightclub. These folks are bumping and grinding after work in a family-owned Italian restaurant. Welcome to Mama Mia, home of the best cannoli this side of da' boot.
Sure, the superclubs to the south get all the glory, but Broward has its own dance music scene. Unless you enjoy competing with door drama to plunk down $10 for a drink, the 954 can offer just as much in the way of bass in your face.
And Mama Mia is a perfect example of Broward's underground. This neighborhood joint on Young Circle has succeeded where so many others have failed. Late last year, owner Joe Franco, along with his brother, Tommy, decided to add some DJ culture to the establishment's slowest night of the week. "We usually do Monday night football," Franco says, "so we switched from one extreme to another." Thus, MIA Monday was born.
"There's nothing else to do on a Monday," Mama Mia Manager Laurie Raya explains. In addition to offering die-hard dance addicts an off-night fix, Raya adds that "it gives people who are in the business a chance to go out too." The regulars don't seem to mind the velvet rope, the dress code, or even the $10 admission fee for guys. "Once they see how crowded it is," Raya says, "they're happy to pay a cover charge."
DJ Edgar V, who recently returned from touring with Paul van Dyk, frequently spins at MIA Mondays. Having held residencies at influential Miami clubs like Liquid and Shadow Lounge, his taste and behind-the-decks talent have helped define the South Florida dance scene.
So what's a DJ like Edgar V doing spinning next door to folks chowing down on bruschetta? "What I like about Mama Mia is that it's more of an intimate atmosphere," he muses. "In the big clubs, you have that pressure to keep a dance floor going." In addition to his signature progressive house and trance tracks, Edgar mixes some seriously funky old-school breakbeats into his MIA sets. "This is more of a party atmosphere," he says. "I'm not trying to 'educate' people."
Besides Edgar V, the restaurant regularly features heavy-duty DJs like Oscar G and Markus Schulz. "When you do something, do it right," Joe Franco says. "That's why you see all the big-name Miami DJs here." Even superstar spinners like Danny Tenaglia and Sander Kleinenberg have stopped by to check out the night.
WPYM-FM (93.1) Party Mixologist Erik Velez usually kicks off MIA Mondays early, and a live broadcast begins at 10 p.m. As with most South Florida nightspots, however, you might want to arrive fashionably late. "People usually show up after midnight," Edgar V observes. "They just party their asses off for a couple of hours, go home, and then somehow get to work in the morning."