Best of Miami®

Best Of 2006

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Best Of :: Bars & Clubs

Best Reggae Radio Program

Fret not thyselves, reggae fanatics. Even though Mixx 96 has been down recently, the station is destined to make a return to the airwaves soon. You haven't heard his familiar voice recently, but Leighton P. Walsh, the DJ better known as Walshy Killa, is still on the air, and Throwback Thursdays will be rocking your boombox again very soon. Such is the irregular life of a pirate-station superstar. When Walshy isn't able to perform his duties as an on-air jock on Miami's best Caribbean radio station, he tours the world with the DJ sound system Black Chiney, bringing island vibes to parties all over the world. This year alone, he's already been to Trinidad in the heat of Carnival, then to England, then to Bermuda. "It's not glamorous. Don't ever think it is. Now that I've traveled, I would trade what I'm doing to stay here," the modest selector says. Although he loves being on Mixx 96, Walshy aspires to go mainstream, to have a show on one of the big three urban stations, perhaps. If they would step out of the box to hire a DJ like him, that is. "I don't have any formal mainstream training, but what I do have is my acquired skills and my ability to communicate with people," he says. Ah, that explains it. That lack of instruction has made him the friendliest, most down-to-earth DJ on the dial today. He hasn't yet become a cog in the corporate machine. He hasn't had to deal with studio pimps. Right now Walshy Killa is still free to be himself. For those who haven't experienced Throwback Thursdays yet, be forewarned. The show might not resonate with folks who didn't grow up in the Caribbean, or who didn't listen to dancehall reggae during their formative years. Walshy spins the tracks the people want to hear, like Shabba Ranks's "Roots and Culture," or Dennis Brown's "Silhouette," for example, and then launches into hilarious anecdotes for the folks who remember going to annual school bazaars, when gangsta wannabes sported "bullethole suits," and the Bogle and Butterfly were big in the dance. "I love Throwback Thursdays more than anything, because I'm 29, and it brings back memories. I really do believe that I have a great, great talent of getting how I feel across to people. So I'm like, yo, do you guys remember this? And when I play the song, I remind them of what they were doing at the time, how they were dressing, what clubs they were going to, and what dances they were doing. The people really respond to that. And I'm always shocked to find out how many people were right there, where I was at," he marvels. Walshy was born in Miami and raised in Jamaica. As a youth, he traveled extensively, and it gave him an appreciation for other cultures. "That's why I love the other islands so much. I want to learn everything about them, because I was blessed to understand from young that the world is bigger than my little world." For that reason, he chooses not to adopt a strong Jamaican accent, slipping into straight Yankee, singsong Trini, or lilting Grenadian when he sees fit. For the people who aren't familiar with Mixx 96's blend of community chatter over classic reggae tracks, the constant interruptions can be annoying to say the least. But for migrants who want their voices heard, it's vital and important. Callers get angry when the DJs don't take enough on-air calls. "On my show, I do my very best to include everybody and let them know that where they are from is the best place on Earth," says Walshy. One of Throwback Thursdays' most memorable moments took place when he was sick, coughing, raspy, and somehow still hosting the show. Between selections by Garnett Silk, Freddie McGregor, and Eek-a-Mouse, Walshy asked callers to share their native cold and flu remedies with him. "People were calling in with some wild, wild stuff!" he exclaims. "One Trini lady called in and said I needed a Ôcowboy,' which is a sponge bath. Another guy called in and said I needed to mix babash (moonshine bush rum) with corn soup. When you hear that stuff, you just say, man, the islands are the best. Yo, for real -- the people from the islands are the best."

Personal Best

A native of New Jersey, Terri Weisbert has spent the past seven years behind the bar (and sometimes helping out on the floor) at Flanigan’s Seafood Bar and Grill in Coconut Grove. In 2005 Terri, who sported a lifetime’s worth of glossy coal-black hair that fell past her waist, had it chopped to a buzz and donated her long locks to make wigs for children undergoing chemotherapy. This year Terri organized and helped sponsor a 26-mile marathon for runners of differing abilities. One of those who completed the course was Terri’s twin sister, an able-bodied athlete.

What is your greatest triumph?

It's vain to call it a triumph, but I feel great when I forget about myself and get involved in causes for other people, even though it's them who help me. And of course every day I spend in Miami -- with our beautiful beaches, great weather, and wonderful assortment of people -- makes me a winner.

Best Weekly Party

On a humid Saturday night, the svelte bodies corralled behind velvet ropes on Washington Avenue wait like sheep. For a few hours every weekend, the doorman assumes the position of a god, saving a few wretched souls from the hell of mediocrity by permitting them entrance into Miami's nightlife heaven. The rest of the would-be clubgoers are deemed unworthy for their lack of money, designer clothes, affluence, or fake boobs, and they disappear into the gloomy fog of rejected revelers. But there is salvation for those tired of chi-chi clubs with pompous door attitudes and hollow patrons. The Aquabooty party does not subscribe to any of the beliefs from the SoBe bible of upturned noses. Far from the megaclubs and megaegos that dominate a few miles south, Aquabooty has found a homey haven in Glass at the Forge. Although most parties fizzle out like flat soda within a year's time, Aquabooty has kept the spirit of house music alive for five years strong, which is like 50 in party years. House-heads have Joe "Budious" Gray and Tomas Ceddia to thank for the infectious beats and topnotch guest DJs. Beyond the realm of promoting, Gray and Ceddia have been drilled in the day-to-day management of running a nightclub. "We've owned our own clubs, we've signed all the checks, we understand what it really takes to run a business, and that's been able to equate to what we do," explains Budious. In addition to business smarts, the Aquabooty boys' success can also be traced to their preference of intimate, low-key parties and smooth house music over massive commercial blowouts. "[Aquabooty] was never a commercial venture," says Ceddia. "We're not going to let anyone consume us so that we lose sight of who we are and lose our autonomy." Right on. Patrons partying it up at Aquabooty don't have to worry about traffic, lines, parking, or discrimination at the door. "If you're a high roller, there's a $5 valet," jokes Budious. In addition to a stress-free ambiance, the bootylicious duo books some of the hottest DJs in the industry. The roster of guest DJs includes Osunlade, DJ Harvey, Danny Krivit, Neil Aline, and Miguel Migs. "We're reaching that reputation where DJs want to play our party," beams Budious. The pair has found that the keys to success are based not on profit and marketability but keeping it real with good music and a welcoming vibe. "We book stuff we really love; we only work with people who are cool and who we connect with on a personal level," says Ceddia, who sums up the driving force behind five years of fond memories: "The love of music."

Best Place for Cocktails
Magnum Lounge

Magnum's unadorned concrete exterior walls hug a corner on the 79th Street Causeway and leave the impression of nothing more than a local dive. But like all diamonds in the rough, Magnum's bland façade is a stark contrast to its lush, romantic interior. The décor is red like painted lips that leave a trace of their kiss on a crystal goblet. Further accentuating the lusty theme is the pervading darkness that shrouds strangers in mystery as they sip their cocktails under a curtain of shadows. The dim atmosphere and piano player make Magnum seem as if it has been untouched by the outside world since Rat Packers ruled the bar scene. But alas, that isn't Bogart in the corner booth, sipping a gin and tonic. Revelers nostalgic for that old-school plush intimacy not found in today's ever-popular sports bars can step into the past through the back-door entrance, where clandestine conversations and stiff cocktails make vintage souls feel at home. Cool cats on a budget can enjoy $3 margaritas every Sunday after 5:00 p.m.

709 NE 79th St. Causeway, Miami, 33138
MAP
305-757-3368
Best Beach Blanket Bingo Reggae

The reggae-ska trio Kayak Man has been rocking steady this year, opening for the U2 tribute band UV, competing in the Latin Funk Festival's Battle of the Bands, and offering weekly shows at I/O. The band's sound is fresh yet nostalgic, with influences ranging from old-school Bob Marley to Manu Chau. The bandmates have also been known to stroll Ocean Drive, humming Beach Boys songs when they thought nobody was listening. Kayak Man's playful music is accompanied by light, wistful lyrics about love, lust, and the challenges poor dishwashers face in scoring hot, high-maintenance girls in South Beach. The band, which hails from South America, hopes to release its first album this summer, a perfect accompaniment for those lazy days of sunning in the sand.

Best Biker Bar
Scully's Tavern

It's Thursday night, and outside Scully's Tavern a bevy of bearded, leather-clad bikers can be seen smoking cigarettes and knocking back brewskies as they admire the line of motorcycles surrounding the entrance. Some of the hogs sport as much bling as a tricked-out Chevy Monte Carlo, but most of them keep with the classic Harley look. Inside, burly dudes wrap their arms around their beer-swilling sweeties while singles eye-out potential hookups. A few scattered punk rockers can be found enjoying the classic rock tracks among the bandanas and mullets. Someone requests a salsa song and the crowd gets more hyped than it was for "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown." They may be bikers, but this is still Miami and there's no lack of representation for the Hispanic community. All of those pitchers of beer show their effect when the DJ drops 69 Boyz's "Let Me Ride That Donkey." The girls drop down like they're riding their bikes over a bumpy road while the guys hoot and holler. The shenanigans begin at 9:00 p.m. and there's never a cover, but always a good time.

9809 Sunset Dr., Kendale Lakes, 33173
MAP
305-271-7404
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Best Reggae Radio Program: Throwback Thursdays with Walshy Killa, MIXX-FM, 96.1

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