Balcony raves have certainly enjoyed their time in the spotlight over the past year. Sanctioned and socially distanced or not, these semipublic micro-parties made for primo social-media fodder, proving just how addicted Miamians are to a dirty bass drop.
In its next stage of evolution, the humble balcony rave upgrades to a full-fledged "vertical concert" experience as House in the Hotel at Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach on Friday, October 2.
Billed as a first-of-its-kind live show in the U.S., the waterfront event consists of four hours of bumping EDM music headlined by Wax Motif, SNBRN, and Noizu, with opening support from Gainesville locals Chuy and Netgate. The party can be enjoyed only one way: from one of the hotel's designated "Juliette" balconies, with the purchase of a ticket that includes a one-night stay at Bahia Mar.
"By the second week of March, we had lost 100 percent of our contracts," says John Pop, founder and owner of Vivid Sky Productions, who has collaborated on special events with Bahia Mar in the past. After a friend tagged him in a video of a similar rock concert in Ukraine, Pop and his team spent a full month brainstorming how they could realize their own version in South Florida. By August, determined to get back in the game, they were ready to test a new speaker design and spread the word.
"When John asked if we would do it, I was 100 percent in," says Landon McNeill, Bahia Mar's special-events director. "I think everyone misses live music, including ourselves, but we wanted to be sure we're delivering a live music event with all the right ingredients."
McNeill notes that Bahia Mar sits on an oversize lot that offers plenty of outdoor space to execute a unique production like this one.
But how do you distribute sound equally to 13 floors?
Pop says this was the main challenge. The solution: a speaker system Vivid Sky has affectionately dubbed the Scorpion Array, which has been calibrated to reach all floors of the hotel with optimal levels, ensuring that all guests are taking in the same experience. Lasers and lights with projection mapping will interact with the hotel's façade, making for a glittering spectacle when seen from afar.
"But the unique experience lies in the balcony view," Pop assures.
Looking down at a stage located approximately 100 feet away, guests will experience the elaborate, fully customized show from an intimate perspective, with two large LED screens to provide enhanced views. Each balcony accommodates up to four guests, and while partiers can see fellow attendees on their respective balconies, McNeill promises that it will feel more like a private show for each guest room.
A ticket to House in the Hotel goes for $450 and includes a one-night stay at Bahia Mar Hotel for two to four guests, depending on the room. Each partygoer on the reservation will receive a wristband to designate their exclusive access to the event. (Security personnel will circulate around the property, indoors and out, to enforce capacity rules.)
In addition to the concert, which kicks off at 6 p.m. and ends when sound ordinances go into effect at 10, all House in the Hotel guests have access to amenities including the gym, rooftop pool, beach loungers, and two on-site restaurants. Tickets also include complimentary cocktails for guests 21 and up.
Despite Gov. Ron DeSantis' abrupt easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Florida last week, the nightlife industry finds itself in a particularly vulnerable position as the state enters this phase. At home and around the world, bars, clubs, and dance parties have shown to be significant spreading events, making the weathering the pandemic all the more challenging.
A Hilton hotel, Bahia Mar has implemented the company's CleanStay program, which addresses sanitizing protocols. The hotel continues to enforce a strict mask policy, requiring them to be worn at all times by all guests whenever they're in any public spaces (including elevators, which are limited to two people per ride). Additionally, the names of all guests must be registered for each room, and each guest must be present at check-in with photo ID to receive their key and wristband.
Vivid Sky's John Pop concedes that "220 people is definitely considered an intimate crowd for an EDM show. But people have to remember there's still a pandemic going on.
"We are trying to bring back a slice of pre-pandemic life," Pop adds, but it must be done in a safe way that won't jeopardize the guest's safety."
House in the Hotel. With Wax Motif, SNBRN, and Noizu. Friday, October 2, at Bahia Mar Hotel, 801 Seabreeze Blvd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-764-2233; hilton.com. Tickets cost $450 per room via vividskypro.com.