Clubbing as urban renewal? Not likely, you say? Consider the case of club owner Louis Puig, who has had a big effect on Miami's Park West neighborhood. His first club there, Space, was a pioneering act. Now comes the sequel, Space 34, which aims to be Miami's top nightclub, South Beach be damned.
Lord Toussaint, president of Infinite Audio, the company that supplied the lighting and sound equipment to Space 34, says: “The first club, Space, operated for two years. It was a very pioneering thing; nobody had a club in that neighborhood. Park West was a commercial area in downtown Miami that was seedy and abandoned, with a lot of vacant buildings. [Puig] moved into an abandoned warehouse. The city gave him a special incentive to open there with a 24-hour liquor license. That means you can open at 11pm and pour liquor through noon the following day.” For the club's first six months, Toussaint adds, attendance was thin, but then it picked up and Space became one of the hottest spots in town. “Everyone was doing the South Beach thing, and he had the guts to go out to Park West,” he says. “[Puig] created a district. Of course, success is often imitated. Other clubs have been tried in the area, but haven't succeeded.”
As the expiration date on Space's lease drew near, Puig made plans to continue in the neighborhood, developing a building one block west of Space into a new venue called Space 34. If anything, the new venue improves on its predecessor. The 25,000 sq ft. Space 34 features an oversized dance floor with a mezzanine area for VIPs. The second-floor Terrace features two more VIP spaces, which allow views of the rising and setting of the sun, and of the Miami nightlife scene. A lounge area features a more intimate atmosphere. The house DJs include such names as Oscar G. Rowland, Radamas, and Tony Tone, along with guest appearances by Steve Lawler and Danny Tenaglia, among others. Not for nothing does the club website Cool Junkie call Space 34 “a quantum leap and club for all Miami to be proud of.”
Infinite Audio provided the design and installation of the systems at Space 34, although Toussaint emphasizes that everything is done in close collaboration with Puig. “During the process of building the club, he becomes one of us,” says Toussaint about Puig. “He doesn't just sit at his desk and write checks. He's a part of the lighting design, the audio design--we come up with it together.”
The club features more than 80 Robe units, including the new Vision 250 and Vision 575 moving-mirror units. Also, says Toussaint, “This was our debut with the Color Zoom Spots 250, a 250W moving-head, hard-edge unit, with zoom optic capability and zoom range; it's fantastic.” He adds, “The drive for Robe products in this project came from me. We've had two years of experience of Robe and it's been such a positive experience. In my opinion, they are faster than the Martin 250 fixtures, they're more reliable, and, for the price point, they represent a fantastic value.”
Interestingly, he says, “I look at lighting from a different perspective. I'm an audio guy, who got involved in lighting about six years ago. That gives me a fantastic advantage: I look at lighting with a fresh perspective: what will the lighting do for the clients? What's happened in the lighting industry is what happened in audio: People concentrate on the devices; they don't concentrate on the end results. They have a product they want to shove down the client's throat. I think more like an owner, purely from a value standpoint. There's more expensive product out there, with a longstanding reputation, but I look for the bang for the buck. Owners don't care about how many gobos, lithos, color-they want to know how colorful, reliable is it, how is it perceived.”
In the main room, the gear package include eight Color Zoom 250s, 12 Vision 575s, 12 Vision 250s, one 48” Mirrorball, and eight Diversitronics strobes, under the control of a Martin Light Jockey and a Light Stream Controls Show Designer 2D. In the lounge, the equipment includes six Vision 250s, six Color Spot 250s, four Color Wash 250s and four Diversitronics strobes, under the control of a Show Designer 2D. On the terrace, there are six Color Wash 575s and four six vision 575s, controlled by a Show Designer 2D. The club's trussing is by Total Structures. Speaking of the main room Toussaint says, “The fixtures there are all 250W moving-mirror and moving-head units. I pushed for that because Louis has built his reputation for lighting that is not blindingly bright. He wants to run fixtures for their color, not for their sheer output. A perk of these units is that the 250W fixtures are so bright that th 575 looks like a 1200 and the 250 looks like a 575.” The control system, he adds, with its simple user interface, allows for lighting to happen “without the requirement of a programmer. At any given time, there are two to three people operating lights in the club.”
The installation happened on a relatively fast track, as Puig wanted Space 34 to open the weekend after the original Space closed, and some sound equipment was transferred from one venue to the next. Still, says Toussaint, “Our relationship with Louis made this job possible. He's a part of what makes the design a success. Everything is a lot smoother when you're working with someone who's deeply knowledgeable and committed to making it right.” Overall, he says, “the lighting rigs in the club are effective without being ostentatious or distracting. The lighting is there to augment the experience. It's not about how many fixtures, it's about how they're deployed and how they become part of the theme.”