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Nightclub Confidential

Miami’s House Party Means Ultra Nights Out

March 31, 2011 By: Sean Evans


Last weekend, the Ultra Music Festival descended upon Miami, bringing with it the crème de la crème of turntable artisans. For three days, Tiësto, Deadmau5, David Guetta, Kaskade, The Chemical Brothers, Erick Morillo and a laundry list of other top spinners graced the stage at Bicentennial Park to the utter delight of the sold-out crowd, more than 100,000 strong.

Ultra Music Festival crowd

Miami nightlife operators and owners were delighted with the extra thousands of people flocking to their venues after the shows to catch the festival artists' more intimate sets. The Opium Group cleaned up after tacking an additional two days to the front of the festival’s official dates, dubbing the entire event “Miami Music Week.” Because the talent from the big stages would be arriving slowly, Opium booked a number of the artists early, such as Guetta at Mansion and Calvin Harris at SET Nightclub, giving diehard house worshipers all the beats per minute they could handle.

Strategic and TAO Group fared well, despite not having a physical venue in Miami. Partners Noah Tepperberg and Jason Strauss flew in staff from LAVO New York and TAO Las Vegas to take over a 35-table tent on the festival grounds, transforming it into the LAVO, Marquee and TAO VIP Section. The experience was what the venues' regulars have come to expect.

Deadmau5“We had sparklers going, our whole VIP crew and all the big-timers were there,” Tepperberg shares, noting that 150 guests enjoyed the pop-up space daily, as well as all of the amenities that came with the $1,000 per-person-access price tag. “They got one festival ticket, one bottle of their choosing – we had Belvedere, Moët or Patrón - per every four people, a golf cart ride to the VIP area from a private festival entrance, private VIP bathrooms and a great view of the main stage,” Tepperberg says.

Additional liquor bottle service was priced normally.

The VIP tent also was the hot hang-out spot for all of the other club owners and operators hung out. Eric Milon (of The Opium Group), Ronnie Madra and Richie Akiva (of 1Oak), Tommy Pooch, Nicola Siervo, and Karim Masri (of Wall Nightclub and Quattro) and Dave Grutman (of LIV) dropped by to catch sets.

LIV at the Fontainebleau was the unofficial home of the festival afterparty each night.

“Put it this way,” Grutman laughs. “If a bomb had gone off in there, there would be no DJs left in the world. We had every big star you can imagine in our booths, watching each other spin. Deadmau5 took over (our downstairs venue) Arkadia, and Morrillo rocked upstairs, with Guetta standing behind him…it was insane.”

Grutman notes, “The more music festivals Miami can have the better,” in a nod to Miami's recent Winter Music Conference, which also occurs in March. “All the nightclubs do quite well, and it’s great for the city. It doesn’t hurt that house music is the flKaskade at LIVavor of the moment, either."

Grutman added that LIV’s numbers for the weekend had doubled across the board from last year’s Ultra festival, signifying that there are plenty of clients to go around for all of the club operators, even the out-of-towners.

“Ultra’s a fantastic branding opportunity for guys like Noah (Tepperberg) and Jason (Strauss) because what nightlife clients trust about our names is the great service. VIPs may question that at festivals like these, but by bringing your staff down it makes the bottle customers feel at home,” surmises Grutman. “And the better they feel, the more they spend."


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