Direct from Beatcomber's lips to your, um, eyes Happy New Year! Here's a toast to new beginnings! (Yeah, I'm drinking and typing. You gonna give me a TUI?)
But there's one question that keeps bouncing around my head like that unpardonable "Laffy Taffy" song. Why is the local music scene still suffering from the aftereffects of hurricane season? More than two months PW (post-Wilma) and we still haven't fully shaken the consequences of a 12-hour storm. Big gigs that were canceled stayed canceled; weeklies that were interrupted are barely back on their feet. The November and December concert calendars were patchy at best, and January is only moderately better. So far, we've had a distinct lack of kicks in 2006.
Thankfully, flying in the face of widespread apathy, a couple of additions have appeared over the past few weeks, fresh and optimistic as the baby new year. The first arrived right before Christmas, wrapped in a tasteful, turquoise bow, sitting on a forgotten stretch of Dixie Highway in Lake Worth. The two-night, unofficial grand opening of the Jetsetter Lounge unveiled the kind of wholly unique, full-sensory setting that's all too rare in these parts.
Even before the Jetsons-esque sign was in place out front, the soothingly lit lounge was packed with a hundred or so mods, rockabillies, jazzbos, average Joes, and one schlumpfy music journo, draping gracefully on space-age-era replica chairs shaped like headphones and sipping cocktails the color of Jolly Ranchers. Wednesday night found folks diggin' the ballsy blues and doo-wop pop of septuagenarian saxman Jimmy Cavallo, who, along with his girdle-tight band decked out in black suits and shades, were the coolest cats in the joint. Thursday was the Dillingers, South Florida's favorite surf-noir trio; a week later, New Year's Eve featured a sold-out party with rockabilly princes Slip and the Spinouts at the helm.
"The whole concept is great," Slip Mahoney said after the Jetsetter gig. "Once the word gets out and the right crowd gets in there, it should appeal to people of all ages because it has everything everyone likes. Punk Rock Pete, who works at the Irish bar in Lake Worth, he was there on New Year's Eve with his big mohawk and a suit on. He had a table of his friends, and they loved the place said it was about time they got something like that."
Which seems to be the consensus: We need places like the Jetsetter, in all its retro-futuristic glory, now more than ever. There's obviously a deeply felt inspiration at work at this remodeled gem, the kind you don't get at your standard sports bar or Ruby Tuesday's. It spills out of the glass-block bar, into the swanky, cozy lounge, out into the tiki-torch-lit, Easter Island-statued garden.
That inspiration? The midcentury modern aesthetic that holds a genuine appeal for hipsters of any generation. "It was the start of rock 'n' roll, kind of a rebellious period too, from an architectural standpoint, from a design standpoint, from a musical standpoint," says Mike Jones, mod-about-town founder of the lounge. "You had the Polynesian thing going, but you had that whole exotica lounge cocktail culture. Vegas was in its heyday; the Strip was in its heyday. What I'm trying to do here is evoke that in a contemporary fashion."
Jones has succeeded, easily. There's no place like the Jetsetter Lounge anywhere in Florida, unless you count Disney World's Tomorrowland, with which the place shares an amusingly meticulous attention to detail, from the artwork on the walls to the deliciously swingin' outfits worn by Jones' leggy wife, Natalie, and the lounge's friendly German mixologist, Simone.
"A word that Disney probably used is synergy," Jones says, "a conglomeration of everything. It's art, it's décor, it's furnishing, it's music."
With a background in what he calls "lifestyle philosophy hospitality," Jones believes that because he embodies the jetsetter ethic he sells, people are more likely to buy the lounge lifestyle. "I don't wanna say theme, because theme is Disney world," he explains. "Lifestyle is something with an attitude, something more immersive."
That jetsetter lifestyle includes, of course, music. Though Jones hasn't solidified the live music schedule, bands like the Spinouts and the Dillingers finally have the digs to match their retro sounds, and more are sure to step up. Jones' iPod is packed with vintage tunes, and each night, the lounge features a different musical theme er, lifestyle. "Wednesday night, we have our tiki mix, exotica, lounge, rockabilly, and ska," he says. "Thursday is Vegas Night, so we have Sinatra, the crooners, Nat King Cole, the Billy May stuff. Friday and Saturday, we do Retro a Go Go, which is kinda mod, British invasion, and Motown soul. Sundays are beach-blanket-bingo beach parties, so that's surf and Dick Dale and that kinda stuff. I have a playlist for every night."
Music, cocktails, design, décor it all has a place in the jetsetter lifestyle. And as Jones sees it, it's all bound by a larger aesthetic that's more profound than you might think. "I can't say I wanna be a revival, but you gotta look to the past to see the future," he says. "Even the punk era, when I was growing up in New York, was trying to instill a sense of purpose. There was no purpose post-Vietnam. That whole World's Fair, age of optimism, innocent outlook on the future of the '50s doesn't exist right now. Frankly, I'm trying to recapture that. Because the vision of the future they had then is much different than the one we have today."
So here's another toast to new beginnings, and to Mike Jones, one man who truly believes in them.
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