Gerry Kelly and Maxwell Blandford have returned to the playful sass they've always been known for with the launch of State. The club debuts in the middle of the biggest season South Beach has had in six years. It proves that we're now completely past the "dark ages" of clubland, that bleak era that followed Giovanni Versace's murder and was marked by the rise and fall of trance music.
But back to the two at the helm. State promises to reflect the personalities of the always-fashionable Kelly and the amiable Blandford, at least more than Level did during its last year. The club seemed to progressively look less and less like the duo's venture as their hip-hop and trance nights were overtaken by the silver chain-wearing, commuter-college crowd. Of course that newfound audience proved lucrative. But now, after selling Level to the Opium Group -- which subsequently renamed it Mansion -- Kelly and Blandford have revived a fabulous glam slam element that other ritzy, somewhat stuffy soirées lack.
At State's opening party last week, the cavernous confines of the old 320 Lincoln Road spot exhibited a warm, elegant décor that steers clear of the cold yet plush arrangements typically associated with other SoBe nightclubs. An eighteenth-century chandelier bristled over the main dance floor as a number of towering empresses, decked in baroque period red and purple velvet ensembles, looked very much the part of beautiful women, even if most of them weren't actually females. The second-floor balcony featured expressive mannequins (which were a little scary at first sight) in glass case displays. It's a reminder that this is the artsy era of nightlife.
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"The intimacy of the new space is why we have the opportunity to do more noticeable things," said Kelly. He exuded a polished eccentricity through his dark suit and thin goatee, and could easily have passed for the Count of South Beach. "Fashion and design will be an important part of this club," he continues. "This place really has something for every kind of clientele."
That philosophy extends to the music. If eclectic is good, then the variety of deep house, Eighties rock, and New Wave played at State is great. But you know what was even better than listening to the Cure's "Close to Me"? Standing next to WFOR-TV Channel 4's Jill Martin as I heard it.
State is located at 320 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach. Call 786-621-5215.