New kid on the beach

 

 

 

Showcase club Maze
boasts world-premiere gear and a three-part vision.

Apart from “attitude-free,” the hyphenated word that Maze co-owner Stacy Gallowhur likes to use most is “Twilo-esque.” The balcony lined in dynamic red neon is “Twilo-esque”; the bleacher seating on one side of the main floor is too. But his multi-million dollar Maze, which inhabits the building where Salvation nightclub once was, is more than just a kinder, gentler Twilo.
Take the music policy for example: Trance breaks specialist BT opened the club in November of last year, but since then “King of Tribal” Victor Calderone has stormed through a White Party set and promoters Nick Nick have signed on to produce a Sunday afternoon deep house party called Body Music.
Then there’s the sound system: Maze’s makes it a flagship, but not just for its installer. Partnering with the UK’s Funktion-One and their US representative Dan Agne of Sound Investment, Gallowhur and his partner Rich Van De Boom agreed to make Maze a “promotional showroom” for Funktion’s new Dance Stack, a speaker system designed expressly for club music. Maze also boasts an uncommon amplification system and the first permanent installation of a buzz-heavy new rotary mixer.
And consider this too: Maze isn’t just a big loud banging dance club. It’s actually an entertainment complex with three separate parts: main room Maze (big loud banging dance club), The Room at Maze (cabaret-ready lounge), and Lime (chic martini bar). The three-in-one idea was hatched partly due to the square footage available (22,000), and because Gallowhur wanted to “offer a variety to the people on South Beach, from the locals to the tourists.”
The backdrop to all these world-class flourishes is customer service: Gallowhur says his guests are “what make our world go round” and points to friendliness as a key factor in the Maze package. “My idea going into the business was to focus on making sure that between the minute someone walks up to our building and the time they leave, they have a flawless enjoyment of the space,” he says. “Our job is to take away the hiccups that would interrupt that enjoyment.”
So reminiscent of a mythologized superclub or not, Maze is prepped to create its own lurid history.

Stacked Sound
Maze’s main room is dominated by a round, dancer-ready platform; the base of a T-shaped beam covered with color-changing panels. The DJ booth is cantilevered over the main floor at a decent height, accessed along with the balcony lounge by a grand lit staircase. The effect is striking, for the dancers and the jock. “When you play at Maze you feel like you’re DJ-ing from the top of Mount Everest,” said resident Tony Moran, who recently released a mixed compilation called Maze Miami Beach based on his sets at the club. “It’s awesome, because you feel the power. The lights are all around you, you see them beaming on the people, you have a good view of the floor. That’s what it’s all about.”

Dancefloor
8 - Crest 9001 power amplifiers
4 - Funktion-One Dance Stack four-way speaker systems
4 - Funktion-One UltraHi 4 tweeter arrays
4 - XTA DP226 digital system controller
2 - MC2 T2000 power amplifier
2 - MC2 T1500 power amplifier
2 - Middle Atlantic ERK40-25LRD metal racks
1 - MC2 T1000 power amplifier


Zone System
8 - Funktion-One Resolution 4.2
mid/high enclosures
1 - XTA DP226 digital processor
1 - MC2 T2000 power amplifier
1 - MC2 T1000 power amplifier

DJ Booth
3 - Technics SL-1210MK2 turntables
2 - Funktion-One Resolution 2 full
range cabinets
2 - MC2 T1500 power amplifiers
2 - Pioneer CDJ-1000 CD players
1 - Allen & Heath XONE:V6 rotary club mixer
1 - Funktion-One InfraBass sub
1 - MC2 T2000 power amplifier
1 - Middle Atlantic SPX-10 metal rack
1 - Vestax DCR-1200 isolator
1 - XTA DP226 digital processor
1 - TASCAM DA-20 DAT Player
1 - TASCAM CDRW-5000 CD burner
1 - Audio Technica UHF wireless mic

Lighting
18 - High End Trackspots
14 - Coemar iSPOT 250 moving heads
8 - Coemar iSPOT 575 EB moving heads
8 - Martin Roboscans
6 - High End Technobeams
2 - Coemar CF7 wash zooms
4 - Coemar iSPOT 150 moving heads
4 - High End Systems Dataflash AF1000 strobes
4 - Martin MX-1 scanners
3 - High End Systems F100 fog generators
1 - Digital Lighting Systems Optima-DS neon chase controller
1 - Kryogenifex Kryojet system (seven-jet)

 

The Dance Stacks, which are so aesthetically pleasing they complement the candy-and-wood décor as much as the intelligent lights, sit unassumingly in the dancefloor’s four corners, their double-18-inch bass power focused inward. The room also has four flown tweeter pods, equidistant off of the Stacks and the delay; and two points at which there are four mid-hi delay speakers – one off the dancefloor in the main bar and lounge area, and one positioned by the stairs to the balcony.

“[For sound] we had two choices,” said Gallowhur, “but when we heard the clarity of the Funktion-One, we decided it was the best option. The clarity and tone of the Dance Stack was so far superior to anything else we had heard in a nightclub environment that we just needed to have it.”
Already the preferred sound system of DJs like Calderone and Paul Oakenfold, the Dance Stack is a four-way system with sub bass, bass/low-mid, mid range and high frequency. It uses 24dB/octave crossover slopes and time alignment, making equalization unnecessary. The speakers offer a lot of power combined with transparency and purity in the bass: Just what a club like Maze needed.
“We’re very happy with it,” said Gallowhur enthusiastically. “The sound is just unbelievable. You can actually dance just six inches from the speaker, and still have a conversation with the person you’re dancing with. And you can dance for hours on end and leave without that ringing in your ear!”

Her Majesty’s Secret Mixer
For amplification, Agne opted for another UK import, the 10-year-old MC2. The company’s T Series was introduced in 2001 and designed with complementary AB bipolar outputs, which use current-driven floating drive stage and conventional analog level controls to maintain sound quality over different load and temperature conditions. In Maze, Agne used the T2000, T1500, and T1000 models for the mids and highs, but stuck with Crest’s 9001 for the bass.
Maze’s high-flying booth praises the DJ in more ways than just its height. Inside it is basically a mini-system, complete with more speakers from Funktion – two Resolution 2 series full-range cabinets and one InfraBass double-18 sub – three dedicated MC2 amps, three turntables, two Pioneer CDJ-1000’s, a few isolators and processors, and the piece de resistance, the new Xone:V6 rotary mixer from Allen & Heath. Agne called up the company personally to request the unit, the first in the world to be permanently installed in a nightclub. Since its introduction to the DJ community at 2002’s Winter Music Conference, then only as a prototype, the V6 has been at the top of many club owners’ wish lists. It features vintage styling both inside (tube preamps) and out (VU meters), and precision Penny & Giles rotary controls.
Even though it “sounds wonderful,” according to Agne, the XONE’s initial jock intimidation factor was high. “I felt like Lieutenant Sulu from Star Trek when I first got in front of it,” said Moran. “I had to check it out early because I was scared of it. But it is really, really, great mixer; really superior. I have a big recording studio, so I’m used to having everything really fancy anyway, but to be able to have that in the club, to have all those different options, to make transitions from record to record impeccable, I thought was really awesome.”

The Jack And The Spots
But what would all that sound be without light? In the end, the owners’ decision to go with mostly Coemar lighting was based on two simple facts – they had a local retail facility and “the most stylized gobos,” according to Gallowhur. Along with the whopping 26 Coemar iSPOTS (both 150 and 575 EB) and two CF7 Wash Zooms (known for their wide zooms), are classic fixtures from High End Systems (Trackspots and Technobeams) and Martin Professional (Roboscans), plus various smoke machines and strobes.
The majority of the fixtures hang on two individually moving trusses – a hexagonal truss and what the owners call the “jack truss,” which sits in its center. The entire light show is managed within the DJ booth with Martin LightJockey software, operated via three flat screen monitors, one of which is a touch screen.
And what would an aspiring superclub be without the Kryogenifex system? Seven jets deliver the “liquid ice,” shooting down a spray of chilling mist that makes the dancefloor almost disappear in a haze of icy smoke, and drops the temperature 20 degrees in about 30 seconds.

Breaking The Groove
But of course the grandest challenge for a new Miami club is to find its niche, or as Gallowhur hopes to do, carve it. “We like to say we’re Twilo-esque (!) in that we’re bringing new things to South Beach,” he says. “We’re not just booking whoever to make a bunch of money. We want to bring a real approach, some new sounds.”

Maze has its own special challenge too – it’s located off the Beach’s beaten track, four blocks west of “the strip” and big places like crobar and Level. “Our marketing team is working day and night trying to get people over to this side of the Beach,” says Gallowhur. “We have to break that groove.” With 200 parking spaces and lots around the club, Maze definitely holds some attractive cards.

The club has also launched a branding campaign of sorts through Moran’s CD release, which is aimed at its gay audience. Released by Centaur Entertainment, Maze is meant to give clubbers a taste of the place before they visit. “When I went into the club and it was almost finished, I was like, ‘Damn!,’” says Moran. “It really amped me up to pump the CD with as much hot stuff as I could, because I could picture those songs being played there. I could see all the hands in the air. It gave me a really good feeling, and that feeling got imprinted on the CD.”
Maze even includes a free pass to the club. “We’re such a tourist economy that the national distribution will only help getting the word out,” Gallowhur asserts.

From the world premiere speaker system to the lusted-after DJ mixer to the branded set of music, Maze is speeding down the path blazed by the New York superclub it emulates, and setting itself up for prominence on the Beach and beyond. And with responsible management in place, its fate will hopefully by different from that of its club idol.

Maze, 1290 Eighteenth Street, Miami Beach, Florida, www.clubmaze.com

     
Copyright 2003 Club Systems International Magazine
Copyright 2003 TESTA Communications