Jazid's 17th Anniversary: "It's a Special Place, It's Like a Shrine"

South Beach nightlife prides itself on throwing the top A-list bashes in town, attracting celebrities, Miami's elite, and superstar athletes alike. But amid SoBe's glittering cluster of megaclubs, there is a joint that's stood the test of time -- Jazid.

Having called Washington Avenue home for 17 years, it is the only spot on the beach that remains solely dedicated to live music.

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"Music is hard business," says Daniel Wohlstein who owns the SoBe gem. "It's costly and sometimes not that appreciated. So it has been a major accomplishment, seriously."

Although the club has seen a lot of changes throughout the years, from management to the crowd, there is one thing that's remained constant -- Jazid's loyalty to live music.

"It's love and passion," attests Tony Alarcon, part-owner and manager.

He has been managing the club for almost seven years, but has been in the music biz since he was a teenager.

"I know the band vibe and I know clubs," Alarcon says. "I get it. I know how both sides work. All Jazid really wants is great bands and music. I look for bands that take themselves seriously. If a venue doesn't help its bands, then the venue won't get anywhere."

And great bands and music is what the regulars at Jazid have seen throughout the years, including Latin Grammy-nominated Locos Por Juana.

"Jazid is the place that's been around since the beginning," says Locos' long-haired guitarist Mark Kondrat. "It's a special place for us. It's like a shrine. We go there to let loose, let go, and play music."

Meanwhile, for Miami reggae crew Jahfe, it's the welcoming character of the place that keeps 'em coming.

"For the last three years, we've been touring Europe," Jahfe frontman Sasha Sanon says. "So when we come back to Jazid, [the fans] are always happy. It's a love we cannot buy. It's amazing.

"It is a spot where everyone can come share with us. Jazid is our house."

Aside from the music, variety has played a major role in the SoBe mainstay's success.

"Jazid doesn't cater to a particular race, age, lifestyle. It's a reflection of its employees. We're all old and young, gay and straight, black and white. It's completely mixed and so is the music. It's like a big music fest every night," Alarcon explains.

And Jahfe's Sanon agrees.

"I think it's the ethnic background. You find everything at Jazid. You have Latin, fusion, reggae -- exactly what you're looking for."

By catering to a wide range of musical tastes, Jazid was able to form an identity and connect with locals, as well as the thousands of tourists who travel to Miami each year.

"If you dig up the tiles, you'll find regulars holding the building up. On our slowest night, there's still a good vibe going," Alarcon says.

Although times have changed, he and Wohlstein have never abandoned Jazid's core concept.

"This place is a true testament to the ownership that's existed here. It was a great concept to begin with and Jazid has stuck through the highs and lows."

And if it wasn't for this South Beach live music mainstay, many Miami bands probably would have never had their shot.

"We've been able to plant a seed of that live culture in Miami," Locos' Kondrat insists. "Jazid has always respected that and tried to promote that, and supported live music when a lot of music venues didn't wanna mess with live bands. They're committed to the scene. It's what made this place."

Jazid 17th Anniversary Party. With Suenalo, Jahfe, Locos Por Juana, and Spam Allstars. June 7 and 8, 10 p.m., at Jazid, 1342 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-673-9372; jazid.net. Free.

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