Shine, Miami



Shine’s classic ballroom goes clubbing.

Exposed in the light of SoBe’s crazy diamond.
By John Landers

Just like Madonna, the south Florida nightclub scene reinvents itself every year. Musical tastes turn from house, to trance, to open format, and back to house again. The glitz and glam of SoBe now competes with the populist appeal of downtown Miami. Clubs (and ego-tripping investors) may come and go with alarming frequency, but the real movers and shakers remain, shaping the continuing evolution of the area’s nightlife.

Shine at the Shelborne Beach Resort epitomizes several of these trends. The venue boasts a smart music format, a fresh location, and the combined talents of the some of the most influential figures in clubland.

“The hotel’s been in my family forever,” explains owner Jon Cowan. “My grandfather built it in 1939.” Shine’s primary purpose is two-fold. “The main goal is really to bring business into the hotel and raise the property value,” says Cowan.

Converting the grand building’s main ballroom and lounge areas into Shine was a daunting task, but Cowan assembled a dream team of nightclub veterans to make it a reality. “Everybody who worked on the project was a friend.”

“I brought Gerry Kelly onboard because I’ve known him for a long time,” Cowan notes. Kelly, the original SoBe impresario, has been involved with successful venues like Bash, Shadow Lounge, and Level, and brings a wealth of club experience and charisma to the operation.

“I knew Jon when he was music director over at Groovejet,” Kelly recalls. “We had talked about working together many different times, but we were always involved in our own separate projects.” Freed of their respective prior commitments, the timing finally seemed right for a long-anticipated collaboration.

The genesis of Shine also coincided with a significant shift in clubland. “The trend in nightlife in general has gone beyond the velvet rope,” Kelly contends. “It’s really gone to hotels.” Despite the continued success of crobar and Mansion, Washington Avenue is no longer the epicenter of Miami Beach club scene, and a new nightclub paradigm is forming.

“Nightlife is just ridiculous at the moment, because everybody’s a promoter,” says Kelly. “People want to go to more glamorous locations where they can actually get in.” The resulting popularity of hotel clubs has turned SoBe upside down. “The advantage we have over other hotels is that we’ve got a nightclub with a 5 a.m. license. We’ve got a little bit of Delano, SkyBar, and Mynt all under one roof.”

A hot Miami nightlife necessity: the hotel pool as club.

Shine’s layout is somewhat reminiscent of a certain gone-but-not-forgotten SoBe nightspot. “I saw it like a big Groovejet,” Cowan admits. “You have that front room which is like a lounge, kind of like the middle room of Groovejet. Then you have the ballroom with the big sound system, which reminded me of the big room at Groovejet but maybe a little more upscale and more modern. And then you have the pool area, which is like the patio. When I walked in and started thinking about what we could do with this space, it all started to click.”

Understated Lighting
To visually transform the Shelborne space into Shine, owner Cowan called upon the lighting expertise and artistry of Michael Meacham of iDesign Productions ( “Michael was kind of our in-house handyman at Nerve [Cowan’s last SoBe project],” Cowan says. “We’ve remained friends over the years.”

“He’d done some really good things on the beach. I saw what he did with Space, and he did some lighting at crobar and different places,” notes Cowan. “We started out just doing some lighting at the front of the hotel, and when we started to get into the whole thing he stayed onboard and kept working at it. He did a fantastic job.”

Meacham himself credits iDesign’s Nestor Thomas for many of the lighting system’s innovations. The firm opted for a flexible, powerful combination of LED technology and traditional nightclub lighting. “We wanted to do something different. We didn’t want to just use the typical cove LED in a soffit running around the perimeter of the club,” says Meacham. “We wanted to keep with the classic look of the ballroom.”

“We went with the iColor MR g2 by Color Kinetics, which is becoming one of my favorite LED fixtures. They’re really bright; they’re five watts apiece,” he notes. “Having the round, soft, warm spots coming down on the walls just suited the room better.”

“We also have your typical club lighting,” adds Meacham. “We have four Martin Professional RoboScan Pro 918s, which is a fantastic light for a room like that. Those things just light that place up.” In addition to the potent scanners, the iDesign team also added some compact moving yoke fixtures to the main room in the form of four Coemar Pro Spot 150 LX instruments. “I’m absolutely blown away by that light,” attests Meacham.

The hybrid lighting approach works well for Shine. “I didn’t want to go overboard. I didn’t want to do all of the crazy lasers or anything like that,” says Cowan. “We have LEDs that go 360 degrees around the room, which is really cool. As far as the other lighting, it’s more than adequate. I didn’t want to go overboard or make it like Space.”

Legendary Sound
For the all-important sound system, Cowan turned to famed soundman Steve Dash (Twilo) and George Stavropoulos of Integral Sound (

The Shine installation required much of the team’s famous ingenuity. “The ceiling height was a bit of a design challenge, and it’s an odd-shaped room,” Stavropoulos says. “Trying to keep the speakers in a normal configuration was tricky, but we managed.”

“We went with all JBL,” says Dash. “We’re using the JBL PD5000 Series for the top boxes, custom quad-15 boxes, and our subwoofers. Everything’s JBL-loaded.”

Amplifiers? “It’s all Crown.” The system is comprised of components he knows and trusts. “It’s the stuff that I normally use, just with a little different tuning because it’s super near-field. The speakers are right on top of you, so we had to adjust the software a bit to align the room.”

Integral faced some additional challenges installing the Shine system. “It took a little while to tune it. We had to match the background system and time-align all of that and make it sound like the dancefloor,” Dash explains. The end result is intense audio in all the right places, without excessive volume anywhere else.

“There’s a really good cancellation process on the dancefloor, so when you leave it there’s a major drop,” says Dash. “That drop is enough to match the background sound in terms of output, so you really don’t hear any difference. It’s time-aligned, so there’s no delay or anything like that, but the way it’s set up, volume-wise, it worked out really well for us to do it that way.”

The main booth is rather well-equipped, which isn’t surprising given Cowan’s background as a club DJ. “We installed our SDX-3700 custom mixer,” notes Stavropoulos, “and a new isolator that Steve built last year, as well as our own custom-built crossovers.”

The Shine sound system is configured for maximum flexibility. “We have a network in there, so they can channel the sound from the main room into the lounge, or the other way around,” Dash adds. “They need that flexibility, and we gave it to them.”

“There are two different DJ booths, and we have the option to pipe the music through to the lobby, from either the lounge or the main room, and the same thing out by the pool,” says Cowan. “We do use it a lot. It gives you the ability to do whatever the crowd wants.”

The ballroom “Shines” in cool blue light.

Design By Committee
As for the interior design, that just happened as the project went along. The furniture was done by a very good friend of Cowan’s, Kevin McGrath, who owns a store called Design Concepts ( in Pompano Beach. “He did all the furniture and the makeover of the hotel from the front to the back,” says Cowan.

The rest of the décor was something of a group effort. “We added some very simple things like beautiful wood floors, tufted walls, and soundproof draping,” Kelly points out. According to Cowan, Shine’s look is a reflection of the various personalities involved. “We pretty much did it together. It’s really amazing that it came out as well as it did.”

Regarding the music format, Cowan refuses to be bound to any single sub-genre of dance. “I’ve always been pigeon-holed with progressive stuff,” he says. “I’m open to anything as long as it’s fun and works.” Since its opening in November of 2005, the club has showcased a healthy variety of DJ talent, and new Shine resident Jazzy Jeff will certainly help the venue continue to celebrate musical diversity in 2006.



8 - JBL PD 5200/64 speakers
5 - Crown CTs 2000 power amplifiers
5 - Crown CTs 3000 power amplifiers
4 - Crown I-T8000 power amplifiers
4 - JBL MP418S subwoofers
4 - SDX Bertha parabolic subwoofers
4 - SDX Quad Box high power bass modules
3 - BSS FDS-366T omnidrive compact plus processors
3 - BSS Opal FCS-966 graphic equalizers
2 - JBL-loaded SRX 715F DJ monitors
2 - JBL-loaded SRX 718S DJ subwoofers
2 - Crown I-T6000 power amplifiers
2 - Pioneer CDJ-1000 digital vinyl turntables
2 - SDX Tweeter Arrays
2 - Technics SL-1210MK2 turntables
1 - BSS FDS-334T/336T minidrive processor
1 - Crown CTs 1200 power amplifier
1 - SDX DJ Console
1 - SDX 3000 three-way crossover
1 - SDX 3004 isolator
1 - SDX 3700 rotary DJ mixer

Patio, Poolside and Lounge
12 - JBL Control 29AV speakers
2 - Crown CTs 3000 power amplifiers
2 - dbx 2231 graphic equalizer
2 - JBL-loaded SRX 712F DJ monitors
1 - Crown CTs 2000 power amplifier
1 - dbx DriveRack PA processor

94 - Color Kinetics iColor MR16 g2 color changing lamps
15 - Color Kinetics iColor Cove EC cove lights
4 - Coemar ProSpot 150 LX moving heads
4 - Martin Professional RoboScan Pro 918 scanners
1 - Behringer B-Control Fader BCF2000 controller
1 - Jem ZR24/7 Hazer
1 - Martin LightJockey controller

20 - Color Kinetics iColor MR g2 color changing lamps
19 - Color Kinetics iColor Cove QL
cove lights
1 - Color Kinetics ColorDial controller

20 - Color Kinetics iColor Cove QL cove lights
16 - Color Kinetics MR g2 color changing lamps
11 - Color Kinetics ColorBlast 12 washes
1 - Martin LightJockey control system


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Copyright 2006 Club Systems International Magazine
Copyright 2006 TESTA Communications