Chillounge returns to St. Pete as upscale, acrobatic Cirque du Chill

Acrobats soaring overhead on 60-foot-tall poles also will be featured at Cirque du Chill, organized by Rainer Scheer, a former Sarasota gallery owner.

Rainer Scheer’s next event may actually upstage his furniture.

Scheer, the former Sarasota gallery owner who began staging events under the Chillounge banner in 2008, owns an extraordinary collection of outdoor furniture. Stylish and comfortable, it is one of the major attractions of his Chillounge events, upscale outdoor parties featuring food, drink and live entertainment.

Scheer’s couches, chairs and daybeds are set up to create mobile social spaces in which attendees can relax, mingle, socialize and, well, chill.

Saturday night’s event, however, should have guests marveling at something other than Scheer’s design sense.

Billed as Cirque du Chill, the festivities will be the result of Scheer’s collaboration with Sarasota’s Circus Arts Conservatory. The evening will feature Cirque du Soleil-style whimsy and feats of derring-do, including acrobats performing on poles 60 feet high, as well as beneath a helium balloon floating over Straub Park.

And while the crowd oohs, aahs and enjoys the spectacle, Scheer will be going a mile a minute, making sure Chillounge remains chill.

“I’ll be everywhere all night long, seeing that everything is ready to go,” Scheer said. “It will be my masterpiece.”

Cirque du Chill will be the biggest Chillounge event yet. With Chillounge, though, Scheer isn’t known for thinking small.

Scheer conceived the idea in 2008 while he was operating an art gallery in Sarasota. The struggling economy was taking its toll, and Scheer began pondering a new endeavor.

One day, he said, he got tired of “waiting for people to come in” to the gallery and decided to do something “to bring back people into the downtown area of Sarasota.

“I came up with the Chillounge concept in one weekend, the outdoor lounge experience,” he said. “I took a big risk and flew to Indonesia to buy all the furniture.”

Indonesia, he explained, had the furniture he wanted at a price far more affordable than anywhere closer to home.

“The first night people had no idea,” Scheer said. “They thought it was like another Gallery Walk. Then they saw all this furniture together in one area.”

The first Chillounge was in February 2008. Scheer staged his second Chillounge in November of that year in St. Petersburg. Both are now annual events in their seventh year.

Since then, Scheer has staged Chillounge nights in Tampa, Fort Myers, Delray Beach, Orlando and Treasure Island.

Chillounge places the club experience under the stars. Patrons set their own agenda: dance, dine, drink, mingle or relax as the mood strikes.

“You have your friends and you meet new friends,” Scheer said. “Everyone has a good time.”

Somewhat amazingly, Scheer has never had a Chillounge rained out, although one Orlando event had to be postponed because “it was so freaking cold,” Scheer said.

While the event screams upscale, with its luxury item sponsors, the admission price of $25 makes it accessible to the more budget-minded.

“It’s a fair price,” Scheer said. “Come on, if you go to a Bucs game, you’ll spend $20 on parking alone.”

Scheer promsies Cirque du Chill will be “something you’ve never experienced before.”

So will the next Chillounge have to top Cirque du Chill? Scheer isn’t concerned about that, at least not yet.

“I have to take this to the next city,” Scheer said. “I have to take it on the road.

“My dream is to make this the outdoor lounge party,” Scheer said. “I hope one day I can go nationwide.

“It’s a lot of work but it’s a lot of fun,” Scheer said. “It’s my passion.”

In addition to the circus-themed activities, Cirque du Chillounge will feature live music from Kafkasso, the Shawn Brown Band and Mikel Soulhop; a runway fashion show organized and presented by Dona Crowley with Luxe Fashion Group; a fireworks display; and nonstop music from DJ Fresh.

Story from the Tampa Tribune

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