Discotekka revolutionized Gay nightlife in Downtown Miami almost 8 years ago, and as Discotekka/Mekka Nightclub is about ready to close its doors (due to the building being demolished as part of the Miami World Center project) I had the pleasure of sitting down with owner Joe Marcella and CFO Mike Slyder, as well as Alyson Thomas (GM), Danny Villar (Operations Manager), and Christian Leonard (Projects Manager) to discuss Mekka’s final days. However, don’t fret as Joe and his staff are opening a new club just a few blocks away at the old Nocturnal location (50 11th Street). The new “Hotspot” will open in early summer and will be called Koi Nightclub. For more details or to find out the exact date of opening keep an eye out for KoiNightclub.com.
What’s on your mind right now Joe?
Joe – When Disco opened I was told that nothing gay would last downtown and I would be closed within months. However, I am still here and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone in the community for the best 8 years in Miami. I have made wonderful friends that will last a lifetime. The most beautiful colorful people are in Miami and I love being a part of it.
Why the Move?
Joe – We have known since day one that the lease was ending and that Macy’s was going to be built at this location. This is great for downtown, as it will now be a destination place and I am happy to be a part of it.
Mike – I am very excited to end this chapter, only because we are starting a new chapter that seems even more exciting than Mekka. This is an opportunity to not only continue the greatness of Mekka, but improve on it!
What are you most proud of at Discotekka/Mekka?
Joe – Mekka changed the perception of Nightlife as it brought gays and straights together all in the name of great music and entertainment.
Mike – That the nightclub owners and other businesses in downtown started MEDA (Miami Entertainment District Association) and that as President I have worked hard to promote our businesses as responsible stakeholders within the community. We have gained a great deal of respect from city officials, the police department, and most importantly, the residents in our neighborhood. In early 2010, we initiated our Enhanced Police Services (EPS) program and have contributed in excess of $900,000 to increasing policing services and resources in our district. Aside from this and other benefits of the program, I believe that MEDA has created an important bridge between the Miami Police Department and the gay community. Given how Joe and I and other gay people have been treated, I am wholly confident to say that our police care about our community.
When is the last party?
The last Discotekka party will be Saturday night, March 28. I hope that everyone will come out and party with us and pay their Disco Ball respects to Discotekka/Mekka.
How is the new club, Koi, going to be different from Discotekka/Mekka?
Joe – It will have the same ownership and management, but we are striving for better service. Speaking of my management, I need to thank the best staff in the world: Milancita, Danny, my hubby Mike, Alyson and all the rest that have made Disco/Mekka what it is – a great place with a lot of great memories. They are very loyal and loyalty is everything to me.
Regarding the new club: Koi will be three floors: the main dance floor will be located on the first floor. The place is unique in that the second floor is open and overlooks the main dance floor. There are also separate rooms located on this floor, creating great opportunities for theme areas with different music genres. Finally, the third floor is an outdoor terrace covered with a beautiful canopy. (Note from Scott: This upstairs is an unbelievable space and I can’t wait to hang out there – LOL – I see you up there – I’ll buy the drinks!).
How did you choose the name Koi?
Joe – It’s a private reason between my husband and me; by the way, we will be celebrating our 20th anniversary together this July. Koi will be a nightclub where our guests can dance to the best music in Miami. I don’t build nightclubs where people feel uncomfortable to touch anything – I want my guests to feel comfortable and just be themselves.
Why do you think Discotekka/Mekka was so successful?
Joe – Mike and I are very hard working, as is our staff, and we do not owe anything to anyone. We pay all our bills!
What are your plans for the future?
Joe – To make Koi one of the most successful clubs in Miami’s history. Mike and I care about our imprint in this community and the community as a whole, so it’s very important to us to make all of downtown successful!
Mike – I want to work with all the clubs on 11th street to create a more organized market and to advertise as a group – 11th street will be the only 24 hour district in Florida.
I then asked, Alyson, Christina and Danny their thoughts about Discotekka/Mekka, the new location and anything else they wanted to comment on, they said:
Alyson – It has been an amazing run being a key management figure for the entertainment complex known as Mekka, Discotekka, Forbidden, Goddess, Tekka and OMG. The activities, events, weekly parties and after hour’s events have been colorful to say the least. Friendships were developed, relationships built with the City of Miami, other nightclubs, vendors and world famous DJs. Our core team has been involved since inception and our bar, administrative and security staff have become a working family. I personally have developed some great new friends and have learned and excelled as a nightclub manager with regard to hospitality, customer relations, staff training, bar efficiencies, advertising and marketing trends within the industry. I have met the most amazing DJs, learned about music styles and interacted with the greatest entertainers in the marketplace today.
For several months we have been working on our closing party and the end of a great nightclub run. There is new development in our Park West district and a multi-billion dollar project called “Miami World Center” is being built on our location, causing us to leave our mega complex.
The new venture which is located on NE 11th street, next door to Space will feature the same management family but with a new twist on downtown Miami nightlife. We will still operate 24 hours with our focus on after hour’s events and weekly parties. The future is optimistic for our team to offer a great mix of gay and straight parties where everyone can “party” and enjoy their nightclub experience with us in a new, modern and fresh location.
Christian – Discotekka/Mekka had a great 8 year run, which is a big accomplishment for any nightclub. However, as that door closes, this new exciting door is opening. My objective is that Koi has a different identity, with the same great staff, but striving to make it an even better experience for our guests.
Danny – 8 years ago a new baby arrived to Downtown, Miami and his name was Disckotekka. He rapidly became an overnight success due to the ambience and music. The club brought unity between straight and gays and although I am sad to say farewell to the walls that once I called home, I know it is time to move on. I cannot put closure to this unless I thank some key people: my loyal friend Milancita, my daughters Vegas Dion, Poizon Ivy, Victoria Sky, TP Lords, Sasha Lords & Gina D’ Angelo who all made their mark on Disckotekka’s stage, and also to the DJ’s that burned the Disckotekka dance floor with their sounds: DJ Jarrel, DJ Sushi & our resident DJ Carlos G. And of course my sisters Joe Marcella (owner) & Alyson Thomas (no words) There are so many others that made unique contributions that it would be impossible to mention here, so I will just say thank you to all. Above all to our wonderful, fun and loyal customers – THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! As for our new adventure, I’m sure it will be another beautiful success, one that will reignite the flames once again. Disckotekka – home of the party goers…you taught me well and in my heart you shall forever remain.
Don’t forget the closing party for Discotekka is Saturday, March 28, and they invite everyone in the community to come out and celebrate 8 wonderful years in style!