Posts Tagged “Peter Thomas”

Dec 9, 2012

The Handprint of Peter Thomas

In 1993, the year of my firm’s inception, I worked alongside a man named Peter Thomas, as I watched him, among several others, transform South Beach, Miami. Peter orchestrated an event, in December 1991, for Fab Five Freddy with “Yo MTV Raps” that drew hundreds from out of town. That event led to Peter hosting Ed Lover and Dr Dre’s birthday and the launch party for the film Juice, in February 1992. Actor Omar Epps hosted and the affair conjured up and comers and soon to be hip hop icons Tupac, Biggie, and Puff Daddy, actor Khalil Khan and again hundreds of out of towners. That attendance started a movement to create the first hip hop convention on South Beach and the following Columbus Day weekend. In 1993, the first “How Can I be Down Convention” took place at the Omni Hotel drawing over 500 registered attendees.

Three (3) years later, in 1996, over one hundred thousand (100,000) people descended upon South Beach to attend the burgeoning “How Can I Be Down” conference. I recall boutique hotel pioneer Ian Schrager offering bungalows at his famed Delano Hotel, the standout property that birthed a legion of boutique duplicates that would soon follow for $200 dollars a night, those same rooms currently sell for over $4k a night! Puffy, Russell, Andre Harrell, and a group of other hip hop luminaries attended year after year and as they came mass consumers soon followed and the equity of South Beach began to explode.

The elasticity of the demographic expanded beyond hip hop, growing beyond the conference and the season swelled to over 100% occupancy all year long. Club Z and Club Nu were pioneering South Beach nightclubs. Peter Thomas opened Club Manhattan, in 1985, on Red Road by the University of Miami, followed by 5th Street – the first black owned nightclub of note on South Beach, in 1988, long before Chris Paciello opened Risk, in November 1994, followed a year later by Liquid, with partner Ingrid Casares, in November 1995. October 1996 saw Peter Thomas opening Savanah – the first black owned restaurant of note; a place where Oprah Winfrey spent New Years Eve ringing in 1997 at the restaurant.

I was the fiery laser focused brand strategist that Peter commissioned to help build his” How Can I be Down Music Conference” into a globally recognized brand. As the conference grew, so did my firm amassing a roster of clients spanning iconic talents and global brands; such as, Motorola, Payless, Microsoft and Pernod Ricard to Angela Bassett, Mariah Carey and Kim Cattrall, along with Sports Stars, Political dignitaries and destinations, including; the Bahamas and Dubai. Over the years, I watched as people began to flock to South Beach, Miami, as it fast became the epicenter for global travels and party seekers. Peter Thomas, along with Sean Combs, are a few of the gatekeepers of urban culture who were largely responsible for igniting the fire that has become the burning flame of South Beach. Exactly who those key players were will vary based on the lens from which each person experienced the growth and awareness, but I can share the truth of the transformation as one that actually had her own finger on the pulse and witnessed firsthand, just as I watched Sean Comb’s White Party infuse celebratory energy and fuel the Hamptons, St Tropez, St Barth and Ibiza. Were these destinations uncharted before urban culture arrived, of course not, but without question the culture magnified the brilliance and provided gravity to the offerings of each and served as a magnet to draw in the mass consumer adoption that followed. When I visited each of these destinations on Sean Combs’ yacht over a decade ago, a boat slip was only a couple hundred dollars a day – now, that same slip costs several thousands of dollars per day. St Tropez was already a party town, but the arrival of Sean Combs’ glaring presence and his infamous umbrella carrying valet, Bentley, sparked world-wide attention and that was only the beginning of the impact of urban culture.

Two (2) decades later, Peter has continued to evolve, flourish and reinvent himself – his journey continues in Anguilla……………