1Oak founder’s #ZoomFest invites everyone behind the velvet rope — finally

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If you’ve ever wanted a glimpse of what star-studded club culture is like, you probably won’t get it at #ZoomFest.

In fact, you may not ever get it again, according to Ronnie Madra, co-founder of the illustrious 1Oak nightclub in New York City, where celebs such as Jay-Z and Beyoncé, Rihanna, the Kardashians, Leonardo DiCaprio, Katy Perry and many, many more are known to hang.

“As an operator, as a nightclub person or hospitality person, I don’t see myself going back to business as usual, unless there are major changes being made,” Madra tells The Post after recently founding the fledgling digital music and entertainment festival ZoomFest.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit New York, it took out the $35.1 billion hospitality industry and left 300,000 out of work, including nightlife professionals like Madra and his partner, Richie Akiva.

Madra, a former DJ and event producer who also invented the Earos In-Ear Protection device ($40) for nightlife and concerts, lost his job on March 16, when Mayor Bill de Blasio set citywide restrictions on bars, restaurants and all gatherings of 10 or more individuals. He lived for his profession, but the lockdown marked an end to his entire way of life — one filled with live music, dancing and high-powered friends.

He was about a month into statewide stay-at-home orders when he realized his previously scheduled annual sojourn to Coachella was approaching. He felt a yearning for that camaraderie and, in an effort to lift his and others’ spirits, he brought a virtual festival to laptops.

“I woke up and I was like, ‘S - - t, man. I want to see my friends and Coachella is coming up, like, literally this weekend,’ ” says Madra, 48. So he called a musician-friend to “see if she would do a song on Zoom chat” with his friends. Ever the party promoter, he added a few more musicians and asked friend Josh Beckerman — a k a the “Foodie Magician” — to perform.

‘How can we make this more, you know, meaningful?’

The first gathering started with “just … 10 people,” but by the fourth gathering, he had amassed a VIP-worthy guest list of more than 140 people, including Paris Hilton, Robin Thicke, G-Eazy, Shaggy and more. The Zoom sessions are known to last hours, with Madra acting as emcee of programming.

But what turned out to be a way to entertain isolated friends became, well, work.

“I’m not doing this anymore,” he says he’d told himself after the third gathering, then nicknamed Zoom-chella — which didn’t stick due to copyright issues. “And then I get a phone call from a friend” — jazz pianist Eric Lewis — “saying, ‘I think you’re onto something here. How can I help you organize it some more?’ ”

Sucked back into the fold, Madra wants #ZoomFest to become something that isn’t for the exclusive nightclub scene on which he’s built his career. He hopes bringing the party to the digital space will help make the whole scene down-to-earth, so to speak.

“How can we make this more, you know, meaningful?” he asks. “[There’s] a rope at the club. Not everyone can get in. There’s nothing inclusive about that. And I’m guilty of it.”

For now, #ZoomFest is still an exclusive ticket, with a capacity of just a few hundred. But party voyeurs can experience the somewhat dystopian get-down via the festival streaming site, as well as VASTLIVE on Twitter and TikTok. They will broadcast the most recent ZoomFest gathering — albeit an edited version of the production — today at 5:01 pm.

As for what will become of 1Oak, Madra assures they will return, in some capacity.

“1Oak is a brand,” he says, “and 1Oak will reinvent itself.”


nypost.com

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