South Beach clubs change their names more often than a Biscayne Boulevard streetwalker. Mysterious new owners, over-hyped openings, and -- when bills come due -- unannounced closings are routine. Add a new moniker and the process starts all over again.
When it comes to SoBe shenanigans, however, Shock nightclub stands out. When the club closed last November after only a couple of weeks, founder Julien Manival left behind loads of debt.
But with Manival gone, the space has now quietly reopened. In recent weeks it's even begun advertising under a different name: EVOLVE. And while dozens of contractors who helped fix-up the club remain unpaid, Shock is once again making money off their work.
As Riptide reported last month, Manival hired dozens of contractors to redecorate the spot at 1437 Washington Avenue. They installed new sound and light systems and expensive red leather seating. Shortly after Shock's lavish opening, however, Manival left for France, leaving bad checks behind him. Shock shut down.
But less than a month later -- and with Manival's debts still outstanding -- Shock quietly started hosting weekend parties.
"When they opened the doors after he left town, I went by and asked what was going on," says Howard Davis of HED Productions. "No one there could give me a straight answer." He says Manival still owes him $6,000 for installing custom-made video projectors.
"The bottom line is that I never got a penny from Julien, just two worthless checks," Davis says.
Others are equally miffed that Shock has reopened without first paying its debts.
"They are still using my name and my art to promote the club," says artist Victor-Hugo Vaca Jr. Manival hired him to paint a large black-and-white mural inside Shock but has yet to fully pay. "That's illegal," Vaca says. "That's called a 'pump and dump' scheme."
So is Shock open or closed?
Riptide tried calling the building owner, Bob Jeffries, to find out. He didn't answer. Instead, his attorney, Dan Marzano, rang us back to say that Shock is officially closed but that its upstairs counterpart, LUX, remains open.
"Mr. Jeffries is the owner of the leased space and he has the right to use both upstairs and downstairs," Marzano said cryptically. "He's not operating it as Shock. If he has an event then sometimes people occupy both places." Marzano added that the club was not being renamed.
But internet listings suggest the downstairs club is both open and undergoing a name change. Just last week, a Facebook event posting listed the same address as EVOLVE nightclub, now open for business.
Orlando Amorin, the club's promoter, says even he doesn't know whether it's Shock or EVOLVE. "I've promoted it as both," he says. "I'm not really sure what the liquor license says."
Arturo Vargas, an investor in both Shock and LUX, claims the club considered changing names but has since decided not to.
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Whatever it's called, the club still owes contractors tens of thousands of dollars. In the mean time, it's making money at their expense. Shock is set to host a back-to-back DJ set on March 23.
With bottle service for the event priced at up to $700 and several hundred tickets already sold, Shock is sure to make a lot of money this month. Where that cash will end up, however, is anyone's guess.