For those of you who moved to South Florida recently and know the location at 100 SW Third Ave. as home of the Chili Pepper and, more recently, Venu, we offer our sincerest pity. For there was a time when Venu, Star Bar, and Allure were all one big happy club. The Edge, as it was called, was many things to many people. "I was there at least once a week," one old Edge-goer remembers. "Practically daily," another avers. "It was a damn fine place to eat X and dance," a third recalls with a wistful look in her eyes. Those days are gone now, and the Chili Pepper was a huge step down. Promotion was nonexistent -- even journalistic types like us, who are supposed to be up on these things, often didn't hear about concerts at the Pepper until just a few days before they happened. But now that the Venu/Star Bar complex has replaced the Chili Pepper, it hopes to change all that.
"We are starting a party on Friday nights that is going to be bringing back a lot of the original talent and vibe from the Edge days," writes Mike Feinberg, the venue's talent buyer, in an e-mail missive. "It's gonna be a party with a 'Fuck VIP' mentality. Should be something refreshing for South Florida."
Indeed. A fuck VIP mentality is unheard of in South Florida, a place where exclusive has become a word with positive connotations. Of course, if one stops to think about it, inclusive should be the word with the positive vibe, but who has time to stop and think in the club scene?
The Friday-night parties kick off this week with a bash featuring two highlights of Hallucination Records. Jackal and Hyde and DJ Monk (right), both known for their ability to get the booty shakin' on the dance floor, headline an event that includes Sean Bauzay, DJFX, Keith Race, and Steve Bruining. Tickets cost $10 before midnight. Get 'em while you can, but don't expect to wait outside for hours while some moron decides if you can enter. Venu don't play like that. Call 954-776-VIPS (ironically enough). -- Dan Sweeney
He's a Magic Man
Magicians tend to get a bad rap these days. Maybe people have "matured" from being mesmerized by magic tricks to being obsessed with another distraction -- reality TV? Magicians come and go, getting replaced by a younger generation of tricksters (like "street" magician David Blaine), but David Copperfield has been perfecting the art of magic for more than a decade. His new show, "The Grand Illusion," is a natural evolution in the art of wizardry. In the past, Copperfield has made the Statue of Liberty disappear, walked through the Great Wall of China, and levitated across the Grand Canyon. But don't expect Copperfield to go getting soft. This time around, he plans to float through solid steel, perform sleight of hand with a deadly black African scorpion, step into a Victoria's Secret catalog, and reprise his feat of making 13 random audience members disappear. In addition to his live performances, the self-proclaimed "King of Magic" has lent his talents to the less fortunate with "Project Magic," a rehabilitative program that teaches tricks to disabled patients. Come check out Copperfield's show Thursday and Friday at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale). Call 954-462-0222. -- Audra Schroeder
Get down with the high lonesome sound
Many styles of contemporary music were born in America -- everything from rock to rap. But nothing quite says corn-fed middle America like country music does. And if you want to get as old-time country as possible, bluegrass is probably the best way to do it. Bill Monroe invented both the style and the name more than 60 years ago, and bluegrass musicians have been copying him ever since. The style has changed little over the years, mainly because, although the playing is loose and jam-friendly, the structure itself is actually tight. Monroe himself would be right at home at events such as the Red, White and Bluegrass Festival, which takes place at the Ocean Palms Mainstage (Beach Broadwalk and Johnson Street, Hollywood) this weekend, noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday. Headliners include Honi Deaton (right) and Dream, Shannon Lawson, and the Rev. Jeff Mosier, formerly of Blueground Undergrass. But leaving all of the big names aside, a few local bands step up to try their hands at all the pickin' 'n' grinnin', including Pickin' Hats, Crossroads, and Misty Ridge. Admission is free. Call 954-923-4000. -- Dan Sweeney
Queens Gone Bitter
What happens when drag queens get old? Is there an old queens home for them, or do they just keep dragging on, toting their fake nails and high heels behind them, hoping someone will listen to their rendition of "Memories"? Diva Diaries chronicles the story of three fabulous drag queens, who also happen to be friends, from their humble beginnings to their bitter final night. Damsel, Clareen, and Randee have been performing together at Pandora's Box for 30 years, and they have been through enough bitching, attitude problems, and fake eyelashes to send anyone to the brink of a nervous breakdown. You could liken it to a feistier La Cage Aux Folles, or even Steel Magnolias, if Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, and Olympia Dukakis dressed as men and weren't so Southern. Watch as the fur (among other things) flies, and check out the queens gone wild at Broward Center's Amaturo Theater (201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale). Show runs until August 3. Tickets cost $27 to $29. Call 954-462-0222. -- Audra Schroeder