Jazid, Legendary Miami Beach Live Music Venue, Set to Close

We are a city that eats its old.

Over the past few years, Miami landmarks such as Tobacco Road and Jimbo's have shuttered, and just last week, it was announced that another local favorite will depart us. After surviving 21 years to become South Beach's oldest nightclub, Jazid will close its doors sometime in the second week of July. Club co-owner Tony Alarcon, however, tells New Times not to cry.

"There is no sadness about the situation," he says. "It would be sad if we couldn't pay the bills, but that's not the case. My objective was to get the bar to be 21. It's time for a changing of the guard and let new cats come up with new concepts."

Last weekend, Jazid held the first of what the owners hope will be many farewell parties. The 21st-anniversary celebration featured live music, lots of drinking and dancing, and a reunion of loyal friends. Until they hand over the keys in a couple of weeks, Alarcon says, it will remain business as usual at the club, which will remain open seven nights a week from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. with nostalgic events featuring many of their favorite bands gracing the Jazid stage one final time.

When original owners Cesare Mazzoli and Michelle McKinnon opened Jazid on 1342 Washington Ave. in 1996, South Beach was a different place. Rent was cheap, a modeling agency occupied every other building, and live music venues were all over, from Rose's to Washington Square to the Stephen Talkhouse. One by one, their peers closed, leaving Jazid one of the few places where local bands could play original music in South Beach.

In 2006, Alaracon and his partners took over, and in that time he has seen many wonderful moments. Most famously, Prince stopped by in 2007 to jam with the local Latin ensemble Suénalo. A multitude of other celebrities have also passed through, from Chris Rock to Metallica to Dave Chappelle to some Cirque du Soleil performers who started doing crazy acrobatics on the dance floor just because they could.

But it is the regulars that Alarcon says he will miss most. "The camaraderie of the employees and the bands was sacred to an extent. It was a place you could play what you wanted to play without the confines of worrying what was hip. People asked, 'Is Jazid hip-hop or jazz or reggae?' I would say if you look in a dictionary, you won't find the word 'Jazid,' because its definition is always being written. But once you've been to Jazid, then you know how to describe it."

Without having to worry about a club to run, Alarcon will continue to play music and concentrate on his other passion of working as a clinical psychologist helping people with substance abuse, he says. Though he's unsure of the exact details, he says it looks like the venue's new owners will turn the space into a French restaurant. Alarcon and his partners have retained ownership of the Jazid name, but there are no plans to resurrect it at another location.

"Jazid is its own ecosystem," he says. "I get the feeling if it's meant to happen, it'll happen."

As they prepare to make their last weeks memorable ones, Alarcon has a message for all of Jazid's friends and customers who still call Miami home: "Frequent other venues that provide live music. They need patrons, and artists need support."
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David Rolland is a freelance music writer for Miami New Times. His novel, The End of the Century, published by Jitney Books, is available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland