Funky Cowboy

It's an early Sunday morning inside Spirits Nightclub at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, and as usual, the ground floor is filled with hip-hop and reggae beats galore. The crowd is largely black, everyone's having a great time, and the music fits the demographic perfectly. Way upstairs, past a small maze of security, is an exclusive terrace where electronic tunes careen from speakers and the music has a much more European appeal. Peek into the DJ booth and you'll see a face familiar to Hard Rock's nightlife scene. Costantino "Funky Junction" Padovano, the longtime electronica ace at Gryphon, is now at Spirits, taking on the daunting task of trying to lure new ears into a club that isn't exactly known for catering to house music.

"It's definitely going to be a challenge for many reasons," Padovano says in his typical upbeat voice. "But it's not impossible at all. We're going to work to let people know that there's a house-music presence at the club. And not too many people even know that there is a terrace. So that's gotta be advertised more."

His words ring true. The terrace section of the nightclub has been open for barely a month, and few patrons who frequent Spirits ever leave the ground floor. But if you're at the club on a Saturday night and the hip-hop and dancehall selections aren't doing it for you, head upstairs and you'll be pleasantly surprised.

"I'm bringing a sound that's not happening there," he says. "I'm playing progressive Latin tribal house and electro. It's summery and fun. It's not those deep, dark sounds that you get so often in Miami."

And sure enough, even though the crowd was sparse that night, Padovano had all of those in attendance up on their feet dancing and sweating to his mixes like the true DJ veteran that he is. Folks start heading over to the DJ booth to give him praise and tell him how much they miss him over at Gryphon.

"I still have a following, and people love my sound and like what I do," he says while crossfading between one hot dance track and another. "I'm a workhorse, and people appreciate the energy I bring to a dance floor. I'm looking forward to bringing that to Spirits."

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Jonathan Cunningham