Having immigrated from Kingston, Jamaica to South Florida as a young girl greatly shaped the way Simone Russell processed the world around her. Passionate about empowering her fellow woman, connecting the Caribbean and African diaspora; she organizes events that marry those passions in unique ways that allow her to channel her creative energy.
Simone was a part of AuNaturel Miami that held women’s empowerment/natural hair meet-up series “The Gathering”. She also works closely with local Caribbean-American charities Smiley’s Voice Foundation for Stroke Awareness and Shak’s Hope Foundation for Sickle Cell Awareness, two medical issues many in the diaspora suffer from. She took the time to give us her take on Miami Nightlife and what’s to come.
How would you describe the current state of Miami Nightlife?
Miami is definitely in a transitional stage in its nightlife, it used to be the 3 B’s….. Beach, Bottles, and Broads (lol). However it’s rapidly changing. When I used to travel abroad and people would try to draw a parallel for Miami to another major city center like New York, I would always correct them. I would instead use a comparison to Vegas instead, a large city with bustling nightlife but very little appreciation for “subcultures” and for the arts, trending more towards glitz and glam. While this “Beach” scene does still exist in Miami and (I’m aware that club LIV was bursting at it’s seams during Art Basel weekend), conversely, so was Wynwood and the various Art Basel Fairs and satellite exhibits….with young people. That’s so dope to me, to see the evolution and shift of consciousness starting to happen. People here are now starting to appreciate street art, a dope bar, being casually dressed at a party. The development of Wynwood, FAT Village, The Leah Arts District, Little Haiti/Little River and surge in popularity of Art Basel/Miami Art Week ‘s have really done a lot to change the face of Miami night life.
Do you feel the big “VIP” bottle service clubs still have a place?
This after-all, is Miami. There will always be a place for that here. I don’t think Miami will ever shake that, and that type of club scene is still popular to a certain extent especially with people from out of town.
Can you describe the events you put together?
I am a part of a collective, called The KGN. KGN is a common abbreviation for Kingston,Jamaica which is the birthplace of all three members. Essentially we are the Kingston Collective. We produce events, curate cool and execute branded marketing activity in South Florida, Jamaica and beyond.
We work with venues, brands & companies who want to speak to a diverse group of millennials and millennial influencers from Miami to New York and Kingston. Our strong belief is that the world is becoming more interconnected, so what happens in Miami is heard and seen in NYC and Los Angeles.
Check us out at TheKGN.com
How are they different from most?
Our events are strictly for “The Culture” we put together events that fuse Jamaican music culture, and Caribbean contemporary art, with dope execution. I’m always so proud after we complete a project and to see the way all the patrons enjoyed interacting with Caribbean culture in such a more multifaceted way than just going to a “party”. KGN is a collective of Miami’s most committed Caribbean culture curators redefining the event experience one innovative project at a time.
What makes an event successful?
A successful event has to have a few key ingredients the right group of people or person organizing the idea, being dedicated to promoting it and reaching out to people for support, because the event won’t grow if you don’t have the support of people, the right entertainment (whether it’s a DJ, poet, performing artist) that fully aligns to the concept of the event, and lastly the perfect venue. The venue of an event bears heavily on the vibe it will have.
Is there a particular venue you’d like to do a party at?
That’s a tough question. I would like to do something at 1306 in downtown Miami, I like the space there. Otherwise, I’m honestly waiting. I feel as though 2017 will have an onslaught of new venues opening up in the area. I’m excited for the prospect of new fresh venues!
What is one thing you think would improve Miami Nightlife?
A better public transit system! I know that’s aiming extremely high, but I think the growth of Miami nightlife is hindered by being hard to get to logistically sometimes. That would be dope, if there was a more organized and easier to way to navigate while out on your nightly adventures in Miami. It would also help cut down on people driving intoxicated.
Is there a venue you wish was still around?
There are not really any venues I would like to still see around. More so, venues that I wished the vibe never changed at. Meaning there are a few places that I miss the vibe they had when they first opened, however I do understand evolution and growth happens in inevitable, even with events and venues.