It has taken only 20 years for Jazid to become Miami Beach's longest-running nightclub. "Bars like Mac's Club Deuce and Ted's Hideaway have been around longer, but as far as nightclubs with entertainment, believe it or not, we're the oldest," co-owner Tony Alarcon tells New Times. Though he and his partners bought the Washington Avenue staple only ten years ago from original owners Cesare Mazzoli and Michelle McKinnon, Alarcon has been a witness to Jazid's entire lifespan — first as a patron, then as a performer and promoter, and now as one of the bosses. "Back in 1996, the Beach was different. You know how Wynwood is all hip now? That's how South Beach was then. You had places like Rose's, Washington Square, and the Stephen Talkhouse. And that no-frills, unpretentious vibe where you'd go wearing your surfer shorts and Jimi Hendrix shirt set the foundation for Jazid."
As you can tell by the name, Jazid was intended at its founding to be a jazz lounge. But it quickly became apparent there wasn't enough demand in South Beach to offer only jazz, so they stretched out toward Afro-Cuban funk and reggae. Alarcon believes that change was what allowed the club to survive for two decades. "Jazid is its own ecosystem. We have people from their 20s to their 70s, and the reason why is we let music be the focal point... Running Jazid is like playing a great song — stay out of the way, and the place will take care of itself."
Jazid has seen its share of things in its two decades. There was that one time Prince stopped in unannounced and jammed with the house band, Suénalo. "To have him play in a space the size of a living room was crazy," Alarcon remembers. Over the years, celebrities such as Chris Rock, Ricky Martin, Dave Chappelle, and Metallica's James Hetfield have passed through Jazid's doors. Alarcon is a guitarist, and his fondest musical memory was when the famous Italian jazz guitarist Al Di Meola played there.
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Alarcon is eager to create some new memories with a 20th-anniversary party this Saturday featuring pop-roots-rock-reggae band Jahfe and the reggae veterans of Inna Sense. "We wanted to celebrate with the bands that helped build Jazid instead of bringing in out-of-town acts."
As far as the next 20 years are concerned, Alarcon hopes Jazid will continue bringing South Beach live music seven nights a week. "We'll just keep going with the flow of where live music is headed in this town and, like we've done from the start, bring out music every night of the year."
Jazid 20th-Anniversary Celebration with Jahfe and Inna Sense. 10 p.m. Saturday, June 11, at Jazid, 1342 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-9372; jazid.net. Admission costs $10.