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September 26, 2011

Deja view: Mixed reviews on the return of Chris Paciello

29178_388357871341_689666341_4095134_7837766_n Ever since we broke the news that old school South Beach club guy Chris Paciello was returning to his old stomping grounds and possibly reuniting with his former partner Ingrid Casares in the nightlife biz, the reactions have been as polarizing as the Tea Party vs. the Democrats only, instead of tea, it would be vodka. On one side you have the champions, cheerleaders and aging club kids who can overlook his past and subscribe to the Nostalgia Party (there's already a Chris Paciello Fan Club and "Chris Paciello, The King Is Back" page on Facebook), while on the other side you have those who say it's just wrong to glorify the return of someone with a criminal past---we'll call them the Concerned Party. Both sides will argue back and forth over this until the lights come on in the new Light Group-sanctioned Delano hot spot, so there's really no end to the debate.

Some say people are jealous or nervous that the reunion of the team some say made South Beach the nightlife capital it once was will ruin their own businesses, and others say that people are downright nervous in general, not for business purposes, but for reasons involving personal safety.  It's no secret Paciello had a violent past, for which he has served time in prison. It's no secret that he had enemies, some who still live and work on South Beach. We spoke to nightlife veteran Gerry Kelly, currently serving as marketing and nightlife operator at Trio On the Bay, who worked with Paciello and wasn't exactly BFF with the guy back in the day. "I was surprised to hear he was returning to Miami," Kelly admitted. "I do believe we all learn from our experiences in life. Miami's nightlife and entertainment culture has changed so much since the late 90s that we all have to adapt and change to keep up with the never ending new trends. The city is definitely big enough for everyone and I wish him the best."

Not everyone, however, was willing to go on the record for this post, but one person told us, "Some people ratted out Chris to the police back in the day and now they're afraid he's going to come after them." Friends of Paciello's, however, say he's a changed man. Casares hasn't said much. In fact, she isn't even 100% onboard yet. The club fixture-turned-mother seems pretty content in her life as such and doesn't seem to be jumping on any bandwagon just yet. Money talks, however, so who knows. Don't be surprised if Casares passes on this one.

And while Casares has moved on and Paciello may be a changed man, they aren't the only ones who have changed. Times have changed. Nightlife has changed. Some of us remember when they tried to reopen Studio 54 in NYC in the 80s. That was a failure. Unless you're a set designer it's impossible to recreate the past. As scientists have recently proven, time travel's impossible. But some refuse to believe that. Many people are expecting miracles from him and that's a lot of pressure. Time can't rewind, but it can and will tell. So stay tuned.

This blog has sporadically covered Paciello since his release from prison back in 2006. For all of that coverage, click here.