The old, supposedly cursed spot at 1235 Washington Ave. is back in black. Gerry Kelly and Noah Lazes sold what was then Level to the Opium Group's Milon Brothers last year. The new owners renamed the space Mansion and procured the services of top-shelf promoters Michael Capponi and Antonio Misuraca (both of whom work for the Milons at Prive). For those who haven't heard, this is the place that's supposed to save Washington Avenue. It very well could. The "Sneak Preview" party last week featured signature signs of SoBe success: lots of celebrities, a mob of angry people who couldn't get in, and the arrival of the fire marshal.
Clubland was caught off guard by the punctual grand opening. Clubs typically open four to five months after the original due date, like Rok Bar -- by the time that Eighties theme lounge is in swing we'll be on to reliving the Nineties. But back to the Mansion's kickoff, where began the nightly wedging toward the velvet rope with "Rock Star" Christopher Lopez, that Sony Discos rep who proliferates all things Melina Leon (he reminds me she has an album due soon). After making it past Sergio using tips from last week's New Times "Rope Tricks" story, the Mansion was all mine.
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The venue's remade foyer was impressive, completely reinvented with wood and marble floors and airier use of space. The large dance hall remains much the same, except for 30-foot-tall columns and a set of spectacular arches. But the party, not the décor, was the attraction. Capponi and Misuraca kept the big house theme in line with servers decked in French maid and butler outfits. Of course when Capponi's involved, superstars and models are sure to be around every bend. Mansion's opening had an MTV Awards afterparty touch with the likes of Sean Paul, Tommy Davidson, and more Michele Pommier models than you can shake a stick at. Oh, and P. Diddy was there and had another run-in with a picture-taking patron. According to South Beach resident Shane Emenheiser, Diddy "threatened to throw me over the balcony, then his bodyguard took my ELPH camera and I was thrown out." Emenheiser later filed a report with the Miami Beach Police Department and says he'll press charges against Diddy. On the brighter side, it was nice to see the rich, famous, and (dare I say it) fabulous people cavorting through this cavernous joint again. The last few years the place was jammed with all the people I bought drugs off of in high school (not that there's anything wrong with them).