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Chillounge Night Makes Its Fort Lauderdale Debut With Samba, Pyrotechnics, and Japanese Music

Admit it: Even as an adult, you sometimes long for the kind of fun that involves balloons and parades and lights, a place where you can unleash your childlike wonderment while still totally being a grownup about it, the kind of event where you and all your coolest friends can have a blast and still be in bed before midnight (because, let's face it, we're not kids anymore).

"It will look so beautiful having this over the Huizenga Plaza."

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Chillounge Night is the perfect answer, and its creator, Rainer Scheer, couldn't be more excited to finally debut his "ultimate outdoor lounge party" concept in Fort Lauderdale.

Scheer, who's originally from Germany, relocated 14 years ago to Sarasota, Florida, where he owned a gallery for a few years. But he says that, unfortunately, business wasn't doing so great.

"Downtown didn't have much going on, so I took a big risk with almost the last money I had [to start this event]," Scheer says. "The reason for creating Chil­lounge Night was for me to bring business to the downtown area, to make it more marketable to have a cool event so restaurants and galleries could stay open.

"I figured I had to come up with something unique or leave."

He didn't have to leave — aside from flying to Indonesia to acquire two semitrucks' worth of exquisitely chic lounge furniture.

What he came up with is a unique, elegant, and magical evening, so in 2008, Scheer started Chillounge Night, and his goal is for each event to be a night attendees will never forget. And it's been working, again and again — there have been Chillounge Nights in Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Tampa, Treasure Island, Delray Beach, and Orlando. Now that it's finally coming to Fort Lauderdale, Scheer says he hopes to make it an annual event here too.

For Fort Lauderdale's inaugural event, the waterfront Huizenga Plaza will be transformed into a relaxing lounge featuring fine food and beverages as well as a number of live performances, from a dazzling fashion show to a sensual samba troupe, pyrotechnics, and even traditional Japanese music performed by Broward local Yoshiko Carlton (Friends of Koto). Other locals include chalk artist Carrie Bennett and painter Mabel Vittini, both commissioned through the Broward Cultural Division, one of the event's main sponsors.

Scheer insists the one thing you cannot miss is the AeroSphere Aerial Balloon show.

"The huge aerial balloon show is something very unique and special," he says of the world-famous act that will hover over the venue. "It's very expensive, this act. Just to fill the 22-foot diameter helium balloon — that's $4,500 in helium costs. And it's a little bit dangerous, of course. As well as having an aerialist floating underneath this giant helium balloon. That thing could go off and fly away, and the aerialist could land in Hawaii!

"But it will look so beautiful having this over the Huizenga Plaza."

Another intriguing element of the night is a captivating daybed parade.

"Basically I take five Chillounge Night daybeds," he says, "and it's like a Cleopatra parade. Each daybed is carried by four male models, and they are each carrying a model on the daybed. It's very cool, and it's a 15- to 20-minute thing, and they'll go through the entire event."

Chillounge Night promises an evening full of all awesome things, all in one place — a place that's near but certainly not Miami, especially in terms of price.

Despite the upscale nature of the event, presale general-admission tickets are remarkably affordable at just $25 a pop.

"That's a very good price range for what people will get throughout the entire evening, considering the atmosphere and the setup," Scheer says. "A ball game is $20 to just park somewhere. What I've seen is we have about 80 percent of patrons between the ages of 28 and 55. It's a good demographic of people."

And if you happen to have deeper pockets and want a more exclusive experience, Scheer says there are a few reserved suites for the ultimate VIP experience. "But it's very exclusive," he stresses, pointing out that the nearly $1,000 VIP ticket includes many more perks, along with complimentary food, beverages, and desserts, all served by a dedicated wait staff.

"Although it's reasonable compared to what you can spend in Miami."

Reasonable indeed. And extremely chill.

Chillounge Night Fort Lauderdale

6 to 11 p.m. Saturday, February 6, at Huizenga Plaza, 32 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $25 to $990 plus fees. Call 888-695-0888, or visit chilloungenight.com.


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Lauren Hardie