There is a place on South Beach where you can go once you've had enough of the other clubs' hassles, attitude, and twelve-dollar drinks. It's a charming little joint, half dive bar, half hot spot, and entirely predicated on giving you a big buzz. Here, playing all kinds of tunes -- hip-hop and rock, old and new -- has been protocol since the rest of the Beach was pumping nothing but high-NRG poopy. Everybody ends up at this place at some point. Hell, on any given weekend, toward the end of a long night, you can find me in the back room chugging reasonably priced (single-digit dollar amount) shots of Jäger with friends and strangers alike. The place is Purdy Lounge, and it has become a default hangout of sorts, the last destination on a weekend night when your wallet is emptying and you want to meet somebody who's not going to judge you according to what kind of shoes or sneakers you're wearing (what can I say, I like my K-Swiss kicks).
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Situated on Purdy Avenue, in the Sunset Harbour neighborhood, Purdy Lounge teetered on the brink of disaster this past spring when feisty residents decried the place as a festering source of riffraff and noise pollution. They wanted it shut down by 2:00 a.m. The owners of Purdy Lounge, Bar Bros. Inc., who also own and operate the Bar in Coral Gables, knew this would kill the business. In April, the Bar Bros. explained in a Miami Herald story that Purdy makes most of its money after 3:00 a.m., when the influx of clubbers come to kick back. Luckily the city didn't vote on the hours, and supposedly won't in the future. Now I'm not about to go off on a tangent about old news, but it would have been a shame to restrict Purdy, which hardly spills out-of-control behavior onto the streets even on the most hectic nights. But the lounge is still taking precautions. It installed a double door, and the long lines that form outside late at night are quickly ushered in by the consortium of surfer-dude doormen. Purdy's general manager, Braden Dawson, says the bar and its peeps tend to keep to themselves with regard to the rest of clubland. And that's all well and good, because within Purdy Lounge it's nothing but good times.
Parts of the week are reserved for worthwhile theme nights at Purdy, such as Chocolate Sundays, presented by the local hip-hop label Counterflow, when DJ Induce lays down the underground sounds. But the party really happens on the weekends. Friday and Saturday nights are called the Mix -- an appropriate name since the crowd has all the ingredients of a Long Island iced tea. You have (over-21) frat boys in jeans, T-shirts, and sandals hitting on chicks who just dropped in from Prive, strutting in their House of Style outfits. Corporate types in slacks and tucked-in button-downs drown in martinis while their favorite beach bum pals hoist their mugs of Bass Ale. Neighborhood peeps stand elbow-to-elbow with a causeway crowd. It's laid-back, down-to-earth. You can walk up to anybody and start a loud conversation, bump and grind to your favorite 2 Live Crew cut, or watch the film Scarface, which plays in never-ending loops on the television above the bar. But one thing's for sure, you can always hook up with Sergio De Varona. The man known as Splurge (among many other things) is probably Purdy's most popular regular. He's perpetually situated by the bar, a Jack on the rocks in one hand and his other hand circling his protruding beer belly. Splurge is typically hanging out with "Booch Buddies" and his favorite girl gang, the Party Girls, a group of Kendall chicks who like to kidnap Splurge on occasion. But even if Splurge disappears for days, which he often does, he always pops up again at his favorite haunt, Purdy Lounge.