Billboardlive, a four-story, 50,000 square-foot art deco complex -- which officially opens Saturday (Sept. 8) -- sits in the heart of Miami's South Beach, facing Ocean Drive on one end and the Atlanti
The first thing visitors encounter as they set foot in Billboardlive is a rectangular mirror on the entrance floor facing a multicolored lighting fixture on the ceiling adorned with myriad hanging beads. The lights project into the mirror and back in an endless effect akin to a cage of light, intensified by a 10-foot-long video monitor on the right wall that displays continuous bursts of information.
It's only one detail, but one that -- in its attention to minutia, state-of-the-art execution, and capacity to immediately involve its audience -- embodies the characteristics of what's quite possibly the most interactive and revolutionary live-entertainment venue world wide at a grand scale.
The four-story, 50,000 square-foot art deco complex -- which officially opens Saturday (Sept. 8) -- sits in the heart of Miami's South Beach, facing Ocean Drive on one end and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. The building is set up to be a fully broadcast-capable live venue and a professional recording studio. It features two restaurants: the moderately priced Breez, and the upscale Parallel, both with indoor and outdoor seating.
"We wanted to bring the consumer where he could experience the creative and technical inner workings of the industry and the performance -- to see the creation of entertainment concepts, the showcasing of new talent in a cutting-edge setting," says Billboardlive president/CEO Michael Chait. "We are determined to represent Billboard magazine in a way that upholds its integrity, and at the same time deliver to the consumer an experience that is multidimensional."
Billboardlive's four levels -- all from which the performance stage is clearly visible -- offer seven bars, a skybox, a private room (the Boardroom; memberships became available Sept. 1), and a media room. The Breez restaurant is located below the live music venue, while Parallel hovers above the 1,500 capacity club's music stage, offering a unique dining experience. Both will serve menus created by celebrity chef Ephraim Kadish, founding chef of the China Grill, one of the premier showcase restaurants in South Beach, New York, and Las Vegas.
Some may remember the Los Angeles venue with the same name that opened in 1996 on Sunset Blvd. Chait, originally an investor and consultant for the project, purchased the name and worldwide licenses for Billboardlive and shut down the L.A. venue about a year after it opened. After forging a new partnership with Billboard magazine, he set out to create a grander, more user-friendly, and higher-tech venue.
"I thought Miami and its music scene was going to take off in a big way," Chait says of placing the first venue in the new vision of Billboardlive in South Beach. He is already in negotiation to develop sites and establish partnerships in Tokyo, South America, and London. Parallel to those efforts, he plans to expand domestically, with sites earmarked in New York, L.A., and Las Vegas.
A companion Web site -- www.billboardlive.com  -- will launch in conjunction with the grand opening. The site will cybercast events from the venue, while plans are in the works to develop as a media company, with Billboardlive creating signature television productions for national and international broadcast.
It is, says Chait, "a new life for Billboardlive."
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