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With such a diverse and colorful mix of people, it is no wonder that Miami has become such a cultural mecca. From theatre to music to dance, Miami delivers world-class entertainment. Beyond the stage and screen, the streets of South Beach offer some of the best nightclubs in the world. At night, in any given hotspot you can let loose to the sounds of salsa, jazz, hip-hop, and techno. The different cultures that revolve around the arts and entertainment scenes blend to form the unique flavor of Miami.

Even with all the Blockbuster Video Stores (the chains billionaire founder lives in the Miami area), locals and visitors continue to flock to the closest cinema for the big screen experience. Catch mainstream films at multiplex theatres such as Mayfair Cinemas in Coconut Grove or the General Cinema 10 at the Miracle Center. For state-of-the-art facilities, visit the luxurious Regal Cinemas 18 in South Beach, or the spacious AMC Theatres 24 in the Aventura Mall. There are also several smaller theatres with a bit more history and an interesting selection of features. The Alliance Cinema on Lincoln Road features foreign flicks and independent films. But if you believe bigger is better, try the six-story-high screen at the IMAX Theatre at Sunset Place.

Good humor comes naturally in a city blessed with beautiful weather year-round. A few local clubs feature comedians that keep the visitors and locals laughing into the wee hours. One of the most popular laugh factories is the Improv Comedy Club in Coconut Grove. The club hosts a variety of acts, including the Def Comedy Jam. The annual "Come Out Laughing" series, presented by the Miami Light Project, features a talented line-up of comics from all over the country.

From classical to modern to ethnic, Miami has a rich array of dance theatre. Even the most classical repertoire is infused with a certain innovative quality. The Miami City Ballet is recognized as one of the top 10 companies in the nation. The companys impressive repertoire (over 80 productions and counting) delicately blends the classical and the contemporary. For the more traditionally bent, Ballet Etudes of South Florida performs classical masterpieces. The thrilling performances by Ballet Flamenco La Rosa capture the passion and spirit of pure flamenco.

Whatever your interest, Miami offers a museum to match it. Celebrate the intriguing past of the 100-year old city at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida. Explore the new showcase of the Smithsonian Expeditions at the Miami Museum of Science & Space. Take a stroll through the exquisite 16th-century Italian Villa Vizcaya and gardens. For those who enjoy the visual arts, there are outstanding collections at the Miami Art Museum, the Bass Museum of Art, the Wolfsonian, the Lowe Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Ziff Jewish Museum of Florida.

Miami attracts a medley of sounds and talents. Whether its a jazz festival, a symphony orchestra concert, or the Latin beats of Miamis own Gloria Estefan, the citys musical offerings are never at a loss. The innovative New World Symphony showcases fresh talent at the Lincoln Theatre. The Florida Philharmonic gives nationally acclaimed performances. Also of interest is the talented Miami Symphony Orchestra. The Florida Grand Opera presents five productions annually.

Some of the best nightclubs in the nation can be found in South Beach. For the ultimate dancing experience, be sure to visit the new Level nightclub with its impressive interior and an eccentric crowd of dancers. The ever-popular Liquid continues to reign over the nightclub scene, offering a variety of theme nights, rooms, and music. Other stylish dance clubs around the Beach include Groove Jet, Bar Room, Chaos, and the Living Room. Salsa dancing can be found all over the city, but the most popular of the salsa clubs are Starfish and Alcazaba. For a mellow alternative, spend the night listening to live jazz at the trendy Martini Bar or at lively Jazid. South Beach generally carries the bulk of the dance clubs while Coconut Grove offers a variety of live music venues. Miamis nightlife, however, is much too diverse and extensive for such generalizations. You can always find something going on somewhere on any night of the week.

No matter what the season, the stage is always set in Miami. Whether its a Broadway road show or a local production, the audience is sure to be dazzled. The nationally acclaimed Coconut Grove Playhouse is famous for premiering shows that go on to successful runs in New York. In the elegant Biltmore Hotel, GableStage offers an exciting season of Florida premieres and New York hits. The Actors Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre also offers quality productions by a talented residential troupe. The Miami Light Project, a non-profit organization that produces music, dance, and theatre, has the freshest talent in town. The Bridge Theatre focuses on the Hispanic experience. Teatro Avante produces the annual International Festival of Hispanic Theatre and presents regular performances in Spanish. Miamis cultural venues are as intriguing for their appearance as for the performances on their stages. From the sophisticated setting of the Jackie Gleason Theater to the charming Art Deco design of the Colony Theatre, the audience has much to admire during intermission.

Madeline Perez

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