In 2007, when the Box officially opened in New York, the racket could be heard all the way down to Miami. "It's a bawdy house," said some. "A place soaked in sex," said others. "Burlesque just got reborn," said the rest. The Box was tops because it pulled out all the stops. And the whole wild world applauded en masse.
OK, so credit must be given to Box's chieftains, who include 205 and La Esquina owners Serge Becker and Cordell Lochin, as well as Simon Hammerstein, scion of the legendary Broadway family. But a lot of that clapping we heard was on behalf of resident DJ Jeffrey Tonnasen. Before the Box, Tonnasen had spun at Manhattan hot spots such as Socialista and Beatrice; it was here, though, where he "really blew up," he says. And the cat's been blowing up ever since.
In 2010 alone, Tonnasen has set it off at Sundance for both Gen Art and Entertainment Weekly, and in New York at both Avenue and the Boom Boom Room (he holds residencies at both). Then he swung down to Miami and held forth at Bardot, Coco de Ville, and the Webster. But of all the action in Tonnasen's action-packed schedule, it'll be his turn at the Strip that will make him one of our town's most recognized head spinners.
Jeffrey Tonnasen: At the opening of the Strip. 10 p.m. Thursday, February 25. The Strip, 330 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Call for admission prices; ages 21 and up. 305-532-2330; thestripmiami.com
"I'll be coming down two weeks out of the month, from opening night on," he says. "And even when I'm not there, I'll still be overseeing nearly everything you hear."
Tonnasen is not only the Strip's resident DJ but also the musical director. That means he'll be doing everything from helping the in-house entertainers with their songs to vetting whatever turntablist he deems worthy of the slot. So far, the Strip is slated to feature notorious performers such as Tokyo Diiva and WildChild; Johnny the Boy has already been drafted as well.
In other words, Tonnasen will basically serve up the soundtrack for what founder and managing partner Eric Levin says will be "unexpected occurrences throughout the night" in this "neo-burlesque erotic performance space." Yet even with all the skin that's promised, in the end it's still gonna come down to the spin. And that's where Tonnasen's mixing of new disco and indie dance for some of fashion's most infamous names will serve him (and us) very well.
According to Tonnasen's rather impressive bio, Prada "repeatedly" calls him to keep the beat for a variety of events (including a gig at London's über-cool Double Club), and Miu Miu digs what he does so much it flew him out to Hong Kong to handle its runway show. Add indispensables such as Donna Karan and Rag & Bone and you've got the makings of some sound sartorial splendor. "I've got two distinct profiles," Tonnasen explains. "Fashion and nightclub. And at the Strip, I'll be able to pull from both."
So expect a mashup of hip-hop anthems and future disco classics, and even the kind of Cuban dance tracks he put together for Socialista one hot summer night. More important, expect him to be taken with our town's unending energy.
In fact, Tonnasen is so excited about the MIA he's decided to permanently add Coco de Ville to his monthly roster. And though no days have yet been set, there's no denying he's set his mind on making a racket down here, or that we down here have our minds set on letting him do so. Just as long as this New York heavy keeps kicking it like a South Beach superstar.
Jeffrey Tonnasen's current top five:
1. "I Feel Better," Hot Chip
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2. "Lapdance," N.E.R.D.
3. "I'm Ill," Red Café feat. Fabolous
4. "Sweet Disposition (Axwell & Dirty South Remix)," the Temper Trap
5. "Twist and Shout," the Beatles