Music News

Head Spins: Jeffrey Tonnesen, Musical Director for the Strip, Opening This Thursday

​Back in 2007, when the Box officially opened in New York, the racket could be heard all the way down to Miami. "It's a bawdy house," said some. "A place soaked in sex," said others. "Burlesque just got reborn," said the rest. The Box was tops because it pulled out all the stops. And the whole wild world applauded en masse.

Okay, so credit must be given to Box's chieftains, which include 205 and La Esquina owners Serge Becker and Cordell Lochin, as well as Simon Hammerstein, scion of the legendary Broadway family. But a lot of that clapping we heard was on behalf of resident DJ Jeffrey Tonnesen. Before the Box, Tonnesen had spun at such Manhattan hotspots as Socialista and Beatrice; it was here, though, where he "really blew up," he says. And the cat's been blowing up ever since.

In 2010 alone, Tonnesen's set it off at Sundance for both Gen Art and Entertainment Weekly, and in New York at both Avenue and the Boom Boom Room (he holds residencies at both). Then he swung down to Miami and held forth at Bardot, Coco De Ville, and the Webster. But of all the action in Tonnesen's action-packed schedule, it'll be his turn at the the Strip which will make him one of our town's most-recognized head-spinners.

"I'll be coming down two weeks out of the month, from opening night on," he says. "And even when I'm not there I'll still be overseeing nearly everything you hear."

Tonnasen isn't just The Strip's resident DJ; he's also the joint's musical director. That means he'll be doing everything from helping the in-house entertainers with their songs to vetting whatever turntablist he deems worthy of the slot. So far the Strip is slated to feature such notorious performers as Tokyo Diiva and WildChild; Johnny the Boy has already been drafted as well.

In other words, Tonnesen's basically serving up the soundtrack for what founder and managing partner Eric Levin says will be "unexpected occurrences throughout the night" in this "neo-burlesque erotic performance space." Yet even with all the skin that's promised, in the end it's still gonna come down to the spin. And that's where Tonnesen's mixing of new disco and indie dance for some of fashion's most infamous names will serve him (and us) very well.

According to Tonnesen's rather impressive bio, Prada "repeatedly" calls him in to keep the beat for a variety of events (including a gig at London's uber-cool Double Club), and Miu Miu digs what he does so much they flew him out to Hong Kong to handle their runway show. Add indispensables such as Donna Karan and Rag & Bone, and you've got the makings of some sound sartorial splendor indeed. "I've got two distinct profiles," Tonnesen explains. "Fashion and nightclub. And at The Strip I'll be able to pull from both."

So expect a mash-up of hip hop anthems and future disco classics, and even the kind of Cuban dance tracks he put together for Socialista one hot summer night. More importantly, expect Tonnasen to be taken with our town's unending energy.

In fact Tonnesen's so excited about the MIA he's decided to permanently add Coco De Ville to his monthly roster. And while no days have been set at press time, there's no denying that he's set his mind on making a racket down here, or that we down here have our minds set on letting him do so. Just as long as this New York heavy keeps kicking it like a South Beach superstar. 

Jeffrey Tonnesen's Current Top Five: 

"I Feel Better," Hot Chip
"Lapdance," N.E.R.D.
"I'm Ill," Red Cafe feat. Fabolous
"Sweet Disposition (Axwell & Dirty South remix)," the Temper Trap
"Twist and Shout," the Beatles 

Jeffrey Tonnesen, at the opening of the Strip. 10 p.m. Thursday, February 25. The Strip, 330 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Call for admission prices. Age 21 and up; 305-532-2330;

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John Hood