A New Level of Excitement

Is the timing right for Tier, an ultralounge concept? Only time will tell.

Sooner or later the ultraclub concept may find a home in Orlando. Maybe Tier Nightclub will be it. Maybe not. The new nightspot is certainly trying hard to create a niche in the downtown bar scene, with billings of “celebrity DJ” appearances and $200 VIP seating with bottle service.

Tier’s owners, brothers Romi, 25, and Keith, 26, Mawardi, UCF grads who also own a bar near the campus, have been around the Orlando and Miami nightclub scenes for some time. They feel Orlando is ready to support a South Beach-style dance club that caters to young professionals and followers of famous DJs. Keith says a celebrity DJ brought in from L.A. or New York can command 10 grand an appearance, a fee as high as the brothers’ expectations for Tier. 

I experienced the 10,700-square-foot Tier on a Saturday night when Miami DJ Cedric Gervais was mixing music in the mezzanine level overlooking the dancing-hangout area framed by VIP couches. I grabbed a vodka and Red Bull at a bar downstairs, one of five at Tier. As I sipped away, a cocktail waitress delivered a sparkler-topped bottle of premium vodka to a VIP table near me, the scent of fireworks wafting in the air. I envied the big shots for a brief second. They looked both entertained and relaxed as they sprawled out on contemporary leather couches, music and colored lighting pumping up the ambiance. 

Craving a change of pace, I relocated to the second floor, where yet more reserved VIP couches are stationed. While the upstairs seemed just as packed as below, I was surprised to see an overwhelming number of club goers under the age of 25, somewhat contradicting Keith’s spiel to me that Tier’s market is a young professional crowd. Still, the VIP treatment isn’t out of reach for young groups of partiers sharing the cost, as seemed to be the case. 

While I was fairly enthralled with Tier’s vibe, my initial impressions might have had something to do with the hype surrounding the club’s recent grand opening. Most new upscale nightclubs go through a honeymoon period, when they’re the latest and greatest hot spots in town. But once the novelty wears off, can they survive?

The entrepreneurial Mawardi brothers swear they’ve figured out how to succeed where others have failed with ultralounges. But situating a fancy dance club in a nondescript location on Central Boulevard seems risky. Then again, the ultra concept hasn’t done so well in highly visible spots on Church (Heat the latest to close there), so maybe the Mawardis are on to something.

Time will tell.

Tier Nightclub, 20 E. Central Blvd., Orlando, 407-317-9129, tiernightclub.com, is open Thursday-Saturday from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. Club says cover charge is at “doorman’s discretion.”

Sound Advice: Hear Her Sing

A hotel bar wouldn’t have been on my must-see list if a friend hadn’t been so insistent that I visit Rocks at The Peabody on I-Drive. But it was local jazz and R&B vocalist DaVonda Simmons (below) he wanted me to see, not the bar itself, though the wide-open space was a pleasant discovery. Simmons’ voice evokes the power of Aretha Franklin one moment and the sultriness of Randy Crawford the next. Her airy version of Eric Clapton’s “Change the World” made the room go quiet. But her renditions of the contemporary hits “Set Fire to the Rain” by the folksy Adele and “I Need You Now” by the country pop group Lady Antebellum turned up the energy level. Accompanied by a pianist, Simmons, 49, is an engaging performer, practically dancing to her own music. She might as well because no one else does, the lounge being way too overlit to create an intimate mood. Simmons is scheduled to appear at Rocks on May 4, 14, 18 and 28. Go to davondasimmons.com to check dates and places for her performances. —L.H.


Categories: Community, Nightlife & Bars