DANCING THE NIGHT AWAY

Patty Loveless Hits Miami Hot Spots

Story by Gerry Wood--Photos by Mike DeHoog/CMT

From early one morning to well into the next morning, Patty Loveless savored Miami's swank Doral Resort and the trendy nightlife of South Beach.

For platinum-selling Patty, who's in town to film a CMT Hit Trip show, the day began on the links when she took lessons from Doral golf pro Andy Green. "I knew a teeny little bit about golf, but Andy was just super," declares Patty. "I didn't know it could be so much fun. I might take it up. It's relaxing and therapeutic, just like music."

Getting toned up for her night on the town, Patty indulged in a Swedish massage with lots of extras. "We did a facial and then I was wrapped in all this mud, all over the body," she explains with a grimace. "I didn't allow the cameras in to see me in all this mud. I guess I was covered, but, I ..." her voice trails off as she blushes, then laughs.

Now she's ready and raring for her slice of Miami Beach nightlife.

"Every time you pick up a magazine, there's somebody having the most amazing time in a dance club here," she declares, her green eyes gleaming with anticipation. A champagne-stocked stretch limousine swings by the Doral, picking up Patty and the show's energetic hosts, Jeff Ross and Alecia Davis.

First stop: Tantra, the hottest, hippest restaurant in South Beach, an area famed for celebrity sightings, photo shoots and all-night action. Patty takes one look at the wild decor of the nightspot, which is part Mediterranean, part Polynesian and part Middle Eastern. "A little ol' girl from Pikeville, Ky., doing this!" she exclaims. "They will not believe it when they see it."

But just one step inside takes her back to the Bluegrass State. "The carpet in the entryway is actual grass," she observes, her mouth dropping open as she toes the blades. "This is like stepping into my backyard. I can't believe it!"

Although husband Emory Gordy Jr., a busy producer, couldn't make the Florida trip, he's never long out of Patty's mind. "If Emory were here right now," says Patty, as she walks on the indoor grass, "he'd say, 'Honey, this is the kind of carpet we need in our house.' I've never stepped into anything like this."

The restaurant's decor reminds Patty of "a little bit of east India" as she snuggles into a booth with Jeff and Alecia. The Kentucky songbird samples Tantra's exotic martini, tagged the "Tantra Kiss." All the specially brewed martinis include hand-ground Tantra aphrodisiac herbs, along with cinnamon, vanilla beans and licorice.

Even more exotic delicacies greet them: lobster on a waffle, deep sea prawns and a dish that somehow escaped from the Garden of Eden - the Tantra Love Apple, a tomato layered with three types of goat cheese. "This food is amazing," announces Patty. And the food quickly disappears.

Kentucky is known for its tobacco, but Patty is not prepared for what arrives next - a giant hookah water pipe, used to smoke Turkish tobacco. Tantra's manager explains the hookah dates back to ancient Middle Eastern times when the item being smoked was opium, not tobacco. The apple-infused Tantra tobacco hails from Egypt. "This is so smooth,"

Patty purrs after taking a puff. "I think the secret is that the water makes it so clean."

She quickly negotiates with the manager to arrange a gift of the tobacco for Emory. "He likes to smoke out of a pipe, and now I'll have to get him a water pipe, too."

Ta-ta to Tantra, and it's off to the next stop. A short limo ride later and the Patty party arrives on Ocean Drive at the red-hot salsa club Mango's.

"Want to dance?" asks Jeff, gazing at the writhing bodies undulating to the Caribbean rhythms as the band rocks the dance floor with throbbing versions of salsa, reggae and samba music.

"Are you kidding?" Patty answers. "I'm a dancing fool." For an hour, Patty loses herself in the frenzy of dance, lights and glistening bodies. Word spreads that the country star is on the floor, and suddenly Patty is dancing with dozens of partners who tap her on the shoulder.

"What's so great about this whole scene is that everybody dances with everybody," marvels Patty, brushing a lock of damp red hair from her forehead. "Partners split up and everybody mingles with each other and dances."

Wiping sweat from her brow, CMT's Alecia confides good-naturedly, "Patty taught me everything I learned on the dance floor tonight."

Patty smiles. "We both learned we can have a great time here," she says. "Salsa music is fantastic. You hang out with these guys and you can't go wrong. They know the moves. I even got dipped."

Just so nobody takes her night on the town the wrong way, Patty adds that running around on Emory is (to quote the title of her new chart-climbing single) "The Last Thing On My Mind." Then she declares that she definitely wants to bring her hubby to South Beach with her on her next trip to Miami.

The night advances into the wee hours, 2:30 a.m., by the time the country carousers reach Lincoln Road, with its eclectic mixture of shops, restaurants and bars. The night's final stop is the club Touch.

Patty and Alecia sit in a giant swing above the bar, enlisting Jeff to push them as they shoot the closing shot for the CMT cameras. (Patty's Hit Trip episode airs June 1.) "I just really love the night life here," she exclaims. "I can't wait to come back and take this all in again."

Not only did Patty make new fans on the South Beach dance floors, she was a hit with the CMT cast and crew.

"Alecia and I were talking about Patty," says Jeff. "She's one of the few stars who has been around for years and hasn't been tainted by the industry. She's still herself, a real person. It's always nice to meet someone like that. She's a sweetheart and an amazing talent."

Director James Bolosh adds, "When I think of strong females in country music, Patty always comes to mind."

As the limo pulls up to the Doral, Patty leaps out, still exhilarated by the pell-mell pace of her day.

"I did a lot of dreaming for many years and thought about things like this," she reflects. "But I never imagined anything close to a night like this one!"

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