LED ambiance, provided by Color Kinetics, sets the mood.
Strong enough for a man, refined for his woman.
Scarlett’s Cabaret is a truly unique venue, even in seen-it-all south Florida. Situated between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, and positioned as both dance and gentleman’s club, the hybrid nightclub attracts a fairly traditional clientele during the day, but caters to a diverse and surprisingly stylish crowd late at night.
Scarlett’s is more than just “couples-friendly.” The club’s combination of sex and sophistication is becoming increasingly popular with clubbers of every persuasion: Even jaded South Beach hipsters are making the trek north across the Miami-Dade county line to party like porn stars on a regular basis.
While superb management and marketing have made Scarlett’s successful from the very beginning, recent sound and lighting upgrades have allowed the club to achieve its full potential. Miami-based specialists Infinite Audio (goinfinite.com) and idesign (idesignproductions.com) were hired to handle the respective systems, and their impressive results have been well-received by the venue’s owners, performers and patrons alike. “We’re not taking credit for Scarlett’s success,” says Infinite’s inimitable Lord Toussaint, “but we’re part of it.”
“They had a sound system that was a collection of parts,” Toussaint recalls. “That happens a lot in the gentleman’s club market.” The existing system, though comprised of quality components, simply couldn’t satisfy the venue’s dual demands.
In order to give Scarlett’s the audio control required for a gentleman’s club environment, along with the sonic impact of a SoBe superclub, Infinite pulled out all the stops. Toussaint naturally suggested Dynacord alpha concept – the same approach that had worked so well for Infinite at Space (Miami), Rain (Las Vegas) and Pacha (New York).
The owners of Scarlett’s loved the system’s premium performance, but not the premium price tag. “Not everyone wants to spend a quarter of a million dollars on a sound system for a gentleman’s club,” Toussaint admits. Fortunately, Infinite was ready for that reaction.
“The first thing was making the deal possible,” says Toussaint, who offered the club a “significant” buy-back deal on the venue’s various speakers and amps. The transaction made sense for both parties: It kept Scarlett’s from getting stuck with a pile of unwanted audio equipment, and allowed Infinite to do the job for less. As a bonus, it added to the company’s growing stock of quality pre-owned sound gear. “Our used inventory is one of the biggest in the nation,” notes Toussaint.
To achieve the desired sound pressure levels in the main room, the core system at Scarlett’s now consists of four alpha concept X-1 full-range cabinets. Each of these enclosures boasts two 15-inch drivers, providing serious punch all the way down to 80 Hz, while the highs are handled by a powerful constant-directivity two-inch horn.
“Those boxes have the guts to reach across the room,” remarks
Toussaint. Unlike certain high-performance loudspeakers, however,
the X-1 doesn’t need to be driven hard to please patrons.
“Even at moderate levels, it sounds great across the board,
across all four bands. It’s impressive – warm and complete.”
The main room X-1 cabinets are backed up by a pair of alpha
B-3 double-18 subwoofers, along with a single-18 B-6 sub.
Scarlett's newly revamped truss -- loaded with Martin Professional scanners and washes -- has a come hither twinkle.
The Scarlett’s skybox enjoys a swanky sound system, too, thanks to an assortment of bi-amped Electro-Voice Xi Series speakers; while the VIP is rocked by the two-way FRi+ Series. Both loudspeaker series feature EV’s proprietary Ring-Mode Decoupling technology for maximum clarity, even at high volumes.
While the Dynacord and Electro-Voice systems offer Scarlett’s plenty of power, that power needs to be carefully controlled in order to benefit the business. “We find that there are a lot of well-intentioned people installing systems in clubs without respecting point-of-sale environments,” complains Toussaint. “The focus is not fine enough.”
The usual result, he insists, is too much audio in all the wrong places. When bartenders can’t hear drink orders, or dancers can’t make casual conversation with lap dance customers, the bottom line suffers. “We focus on each area,” says Toussaint. “We look at the profit centers. We want the sound system to enhance business, not hurt it.”
To keep everyone happy, Scarlett’s sound is controlled by two Biamp Audia processors, which monitor and manage every aspect of the system’s performance. “It’s not just having the digital processing,” insists Toussaint. “It’s the ability to use it properly. It’s the implementation, and that comes with experience.”
After-Hours Light Swap
The club’s new-and-improved lighting system is actually the result of a minor makeover that quickly evolved into a total retrofit. “I was originally approached by Johnny Storm, Scarlett’s resident DJ,” explains idesign’s Michael Meacham. “They wanted me to do some lighting work on the existing system. Within a month or so, they started seeing the possibilities.”
Eventually, idesign completely redesigned the Scarlett’s system. Using lighting and set design visualization software from Martin Professional, Meacham was able to create a 3-D model of the club, “install” various systems, and give the owners a virtual walk-through before making any physical changes. “There’s no way we could’ve done it without ShowDesigner,” he says.
Once the final plan was approved, the idesign team tackled the actual installation. “We took everything down. All of the cables were redone,” says Meacham, and fresh instruments were installed. “We updated the whole rig. We got rid of the [older scanners] and added MX-4s.”
In addition to the moving lights, idesign installed a massive LED wall. “It’s over 40 feet long with more than 80 Color Kinetics cove lights,” Meacham notes. “It’s more of an art piece than a lighting piece.” Just like the overhead instruments, though, it’s controlled by Martin’s proven LightJockey system.
All of the work had to be carried out without disrupting day-to-day operations at Scarlett’s. “They’re open all the time, so we were getting in there at four a.m. and leaving at noon as the club opened,” Meacham recalls. Because shutting down the club to position and program the lights wasn’t an option, all of the design decisions were made via Martin ShowDesigner. “The only way we could do the work was to do it with 3-D modeling,” says Meacham.
Instead of the visual va-va-voom of traditional gentleman’s club lighting, Meacham opted for a more theatrical approach that uses layered lighting. “It’s not flash and trash,” he notes. “We wanted lots of different points of light coming from different areas.” The sizeable system allows operators to both highlight individual dancers and energize the entire room – a perfect combination for the hybrid club.
Of course, appropriate programming is essential. “You have to be able to get your point across with your lighting, but still keep the stage performers illuminated,” notes Meacham. “We use lots of UV and cooler colors – the blues and the cyans.” The end result is a lighting system that’s beautiful, powerful, and incredibly flexible.
Together, the club’s systems give Scarlett’s a suitably unique vibe. “Their night DJs are playing cutting-edge house music. No hip-hop,” explains Meacham. “You have to go in on a Friday night to appreciate the symbiotic relationship between the DJs and Kevin Smith, the lighting guy. The way he works the lights and the video – they match the mood of the music perfectly.”
But more than its technical attributes, Toussaint says that Scarlett’s is successful for another, more significant reason. “Scarlett’s is unique in the fact that at two a.m., couples start coming in,” he says. “That’s a new trend in the gentleman’s club market. And it’s one that’s going to continue.”
4 - Dynacord Alpha X-1/90 full-range loudspeakers
2 - Dynacord Alpha B-3 subwoofers
1 - Dynacord Alpha B-6 subwoofer
4 - EV Xi-1082 full-range loudspeakers
2 - EV Xi-1152/94F full-range loudspeakers
1 - EV FRi+ 152/94 full-range loudspeaker
Processing and Amplification
5 - EV P1200 amplifiers
3 - EV P2000 amplifiers
3 - EV P3000 amplifiers
2 - Biamp AudiaSOLO digital processors
100 - Color Kinetics iColor Cove lights
50 - Amber Neon Flex LED lights
50 - Red Neon Flex LED lights
30 - Blue Neon Flex LED lights
28 - Color Kinetics iColor MR g2 fixtures
18 - Akai 42” plasmas
14 - Martin MX-4 scanners
12 - Martin RoboColor Pro 400 fixtures
12 - High End Systems Dataflash AF1000 strobes
10 - Color Kinetics ColorBlast 12 wash lights
8 - Martin MAC 250 moving heads
8 - Martin MiniMAC Profile fixtures
8 - Martin MiniMAC Wash fixtures
4 - Martin FiberSource CMY150 luminaires
4 - Martin MAC 300 washlights
4 - Martin MX-10 scanners
4 - Martin RS-485 Optosplitter splitter amplifiers
1 - Martin LightJockey controller
1 - Martin Fingers control keyboard
1 - M-Audio Ozone MIDI mobile workstation
1 - Sigma Electronics SigMatriX video switcher software