Miami nightlife trendsetter Alan Roth has played a big part in the Magic City’s ever-evolving scene over the past two decades. The former owner of hip South Beach restaurant/club Rumi is partners with Tommy Pooch in TAI Entertainment, and also owns Midtown hotspot Ricochet Bar & Lounge, which hosts rock concerts plus national comedy acts such as Tommy Davidson.
But it’s his latest project that’s closest to his heart. “One Split Second,” a benefit for the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, features music by DJ Danny Stern, a photo exhibit by Roth (he’s taken dozens of pics of music stars over the years, from Perry Farrell to Scott Weiland to Nas to Kanye West to Kelly Clarkson), and a live acoustic performance by Live lead singer and longtime friend Ed Kowalczyk.
So why does this benefit mean so much to Roth?
“I ended up becoming friends with a guy named Alan Brown, who has been in a wheelchair for 25 years and is on the board for the Christopher Reeve foundation,” he says. “And one day I’m walking away from him, and he says, ‘Alan, what’s that scar on the back of your head?’ And I was like, ‘Well, I actually broke my neck, between the first and second vertebrae.’ And he’s like, ‘Really?’
“And so he and I kept talking, and it hit me that I’d been searching for something in my life, and this event is what I’m supposed to be doing.”
The name of the benefit also has special meaning for Roth.
“I started telling [Brown] how for the past 15 years I’ve been taking photos of musicians,” Roth said, “and sometimes I’d literally have one split second to take a shot, and he said, ‘That’s it — that’s what we call the event: One Split Second. And I said, ‘What do you mean?’ And he told me how his life changed in one split second, when he jumped into the ocean and hit his head on the bottom. So that’s how it happened.”
The benefit happens at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Gibson Miami Showroom (2751 N. Miami Ave.) and tickets are $50, available through www.christopherreeve.org/onesecond. Your ticket will include complimentary hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, and because all the entertainment and refreshments have been donated to the party, 100 percent of the proceeds will go toward the foundation.
More on Roth’s injury: It happened early on in his life, in his toddler years, and it was a mystery in that doctors couldn’t figure out exactly what caused the break or why he kept becoming temporarily paralyzed when he’d wrestle with his brother, or his head would snap back during a roller-coaster ride.
He ended up having to undergo a nine-hour surgical procedure to correct the problem, and still feels fortunate today to be able to walk, and enjoy a normal life.
“I live every day, and I can go for a jog, or later ride my bike,” he says. “I didn’t realize until I was a little bit older how lucky I was. I’m super-blessed to be here and walking, and to be able to do the things I can do, and that’s what the point of this is.”