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Chillounge Night founder celebrates 10 illuminating years

Bill DeYoung

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Straub Park, 2017 (event photos provided by Rainer Scheer)

If you’re going to throw a party, Rainer Scheer believes, make it big and make it memorable.

Scheer is the creator of Chillounge Night, an upscale moveable feast of cool, illuminated lounge furniture, mood lighting, food, drink, entertainment and more. Scheer’s outdoor, nighttime concept is celebrating 10 years in 2018, and in keeping with his hard-earned reputation as the selfless host with the most, he’s not throwing himself a self-congratulatory bash.

Instead, come November 17, he’ll transform St. Pete’s Straub Park into the chilling-est, lounging-est after-dark party of the season.

Illumination will be the 47th event in the 10-year history of Chillounge Night; Scheer estimates more than 120,000 people have attended his parties, all over Florida, and more than $125,000 has been raised for local charities. St. Pete’s Creative Clay is the beneficiary for the November event.

Rainer Scheer (photo by Bill DeYoung)

“I love what I do – if not, I wouldn’t do this for 10 years,” the native of Wiesbaden, Germany explains. “I love when everything comes together in the evening and all these people come – nice people, they dress nice and they just want to have a nice evening. “

Scheer, who’s based in Manatee County, says that Straub Park is his favorite location for staging a Chillounge Night (this will be his 11th visit to the waterfront greenspace). “We come in the morning. It looks amazing at night, and the next morning at 4 o’clock, the park looks like it did before anything happened.”

For seven years, he operated an art gallery, selling imported Italian frescos, in downtown Sarasota. “I wanted to come up with something special to bring people to the downtown area – a nice upscale event,” he says. “And the galleries and restaurants would be happy and proud.”

There was another reason. “I wasn’t making money with the gallery. I told myself ‘Either you come up with something or you go back to Germany.’”

Scheer says he brainstormed the Chillounge Night concept – “an outdoor event with food, music, all kind of upscale elements, different entertainment, maybe a fashion show” – over a single weekend.

At first, it was a part-time thing. “When I started with the first Chillounge Night in Sarasota in February 2008, I still had the gallery for another three years.”

From Indonesia, he bought hundreds of pieces of hand-made wicker furniture; the inflatable, LED-illuminated furniture and cushions came later (and he’s still buying more).

And that’s only a small percentage of his inventory.

Everything, including his 826 pillows, is stored in a large Sarasota warehouse. “I could sit about 600 people at a time on all my lounge furniture,” Scheer says with a mischievous grin. “That’s a lot of furniture.”

Each six-hour event takes approximately four months of logistics and planning, including securing sponsorships, locating the charities, subcontracting the food and beverage and the entertainment.

Scheer is constantly coming up with new ideas. He’s most proud of Cirque du Chill, which added circus acts, daredevils and assorted illuminated thrills to the concept.

The big – and, not coincidentally, costly – event premiered in 2014. It was staged in St. Pete, Tampa and Sarasota.  “I cry when I see the videos now – because I don’t know how I did it,” he explains, “but I know everybody loved it. Everybody always asks me ‘When will you bring back Cirque du Chill?’”

Chillounge can be adapted for any location, any occasion. There’s the “Sunset Lounge” experience on St. Pete Beach; that’s happened twice so far.

“Chillounge Night can also be part of an existing event, like a golf tournament,” Scheer offers. “It could become the opening night.

“For example, this March, the 10th annual Sarasota Chillounge Night was the official closing night of the 20th annual Sarasota Film Festival, in front of the Opera House. It was pretty cool.”

Because the profits are derived almost exclusively from ticket sales, Scheer is always looking for a new financial angle. He’s hoping that major corporations – say, Amazon, Microsoft or Raymond James – will come to him when they’re thinking about holiday or anniversary parties.

He also rents the furniture, for those not looking to invest in the full Chillounge experience.

“I’m very realistic – I’m not a dreamer,” Scheer explains. “I’m German, so I’m very detailed and organized.”

Still, “The last 10 years were a journey. A wonderful journey.”

Chillounge Sunset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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