“The space is set up to do all kinds of things, and it doesn’t need to be music-related,” Rullman says. “We might be doing some comedy nights. We’ll be renting the room out for parties. I can see wedding receptions and rehearsal dinners happening up here from time to time. We can bring in food from Kapow and Hullabaloo.”
These restaurants, across the street from Voltaire, speak to Rodney Mayo’s growing dominance of the 500 block of Clematis Street, established over three decades. Mayo also runs Subculture Coffee and Lost Weekend. As a second-floor speakeasy, Voltaire is situated just above the latter, a lively lounge with pool and foosball tables, arcade games and a hip soundtrack. Before Mayo opened Lost Weekend, its address, at 526 Clematis St., had been vacant for some 35 years.
“It’s one of those buildings that’s always been here, and people just walked past it, and didn’t really notice it,” Rullman says. “Rodney purchased it six or seven years ago. It was an apartment building, and from what people say, it was an old hippie crash pad. The wallpaper was newspaper, and they’d drawn over it, and there was a lot of really trippy artwork. That’s the rumor, anyway. I don’t know if it’s haunted; I like to think it is.”
You can draw your own conclusions this weekend, with three nights of eclectic 9 p.m. concerts presented free of charge. Thursday night will feature the funk/jazz/soul group Public Sounds Collective; South Florida psych-punk amalgam Dead and Loving It will headline Friday night; and Miami’s Gold Dust Lounge, an instrumental hybrid of self-described “post-surf, noir, spy-fi rock-n-roll,” will play Saturday night.
Rullman has also scheduled major touring bands through the fall, including post-rock favorites Unwed Sailor (Oct. 6); Marbin, a Chicago by way of Israel jazz-rock band (Oct. 8); and New York shoegazers Shana Falana (Nov. 9). Expanding its sonic palette, Voltaire has also dedicated future Saturday nights to a drag cabaret in the spirit of the late Clematis Street venue The Lounge, and Sunday nights to blues.
To start, the venue will be open Wednesdays to Sundays, with possible special events slated on select Mondays and Tuesdays. For the full schedule, visit sub-culture.org/voltaire.