BEST VENUE FOR LIVE MUSIC Mansion 1235 Washington Avenue
www.mansionmiami.com After Level was purchased by the Opium Group, renovated, and renamed Mansion, this linchpin of South Beach nightlife has become the place for excited celebrity-seekers thanks to the many models and hip-hop stars it draws. It also has frustrated those gawkers with its strict velvet-rope policy. Lost in the commotion is the fact that it is a superior music venue, capable of holding 2500 people throughout its two floors and four rooms. Since its March 2004 opening, Mansion has hosted an amazing concert by hip-hop band the Roots; a raucous performance by hard rock supergroup Velvet Revolver; and Hip-Hop Fridays, an occasional concert series co-promoted by Empire Events and featuring old-school rap legends Big Daddy Kane, the Jungle Brothers, and Black Sheep. With a mixture of plush seating and standing areas and an excellent lighting and sound system, Mansion is a seeming contradiction -- a snooty SoBe club and a great place to see live bands.