Five Biker Bar Stereotypes that No Longer Hold Truth

The data in the article, compiled by Progressive Insurance, reflects the current reality of the rider scene in South Florida. The truth is bikers today are less like Marlon Brando in The Wild One and more like one of the Wild Hogs.

It turns out biker bars have morphed over the years; from smoke-filled breeding grounds for criminal activity and backyard brawls to (sometimes) smoke-filled dives with Tuesday night wing specials and family seating. So, to set the record straight, and alert any who didn't already know, we've compiled a list of old myths about biker bars that no longer apply.

5. Gang brawls are the regular.
If you're at a place like Flossie's Bar & Grill or Zoo Bar in Ft. Lauderdale, you'll find people drinking merrily and most likely dancing to some type of rock n' roll music, or just having a nice chat with their neighboring bar guest.

Biker fights seem like a thing of the past these days, partly because the biker population is mostly made up of easygoing 50-year-old couples, and partly because whatever biker gangs are around have actually worked to rid their kind of the stigma that surrounded them mid-century.

The American Motorcyclist Association sponsors charity events nationwide and, since the late '40s, has said the "outlaw gangs" everyone feared are a mere 1 percent of bikers that should not cast a dark shadow over the friendly 99 percent.

4. It's a place for Sons of Silence and Hell's Angels.
Okay, maybe some of them are. These gangs are two of the "one percenters" mentioned above, the ones that spurred frenzy over those crazy outlaw bikers. These days, though, some bars won't even let their guests wear their "colors," which are basically family crests for biker crews, outlaw or not.

There are rumored laws that would ban any display of affiliation for fear of stirring up violence among crews, but the majority of riding clubs, as they're called, don't behave as street gangs, nor look to rumble by the dumpster with their rivals.

Instead, they're like fraternities for motorcyclists: The Florida chapter of the Soldiers for Jesus just like to ride to Daytona Bike Week and set up their tents for the Lord. "Jesus loves bikers, too!" they say.

3. Biker bars are back-alley crack joints.
Not really. While any good bar has a dark side (and a guy with the hook-up), there's a difference between a crackhouse and a dive bar that's just a bit grimy, like the Last Chance Saloon on the way out of Florida City.

The place is home to boozy regulars and salty dogs crossing county lines, and strangers stick out here like a sore thumb. But don't fret, the quiet crowd is welcoming and full of old-man stories about the place, the characters and life in general. Nothing to fear here.

2. Adults only, all day.
The late Betty's Best Burgers, previously Fuddruckers, hosted the biggest bike night in the Palmetto Bay Area. And there were kids there. And it wasn't weird.

If anything testifies to the evolution of biker culture it's the presence of children at bike night. How could a biker be threatening when he's got Jorge Jr. playing Kirby games on his Nintendo DS, and they're wearing matching t-shirts?

On one hand, the inclusion of fifth-graders takes some badassery away from the whole scene. On the other hand, what better way to ensure the subculture lives on than to deck out your kids in bike crew gear from the start?

1. Alcohol is all that's on the menu.
Go to Scully's Tavern in Kendall. The escargot and gourmet chicken wings are so good, they blew Guy Fieri's mind right through his straw-hair spikes and backwards sunglasses. And every Thursday night for years, Scully's has welcomed locals clad in leather, delighting all with menu choices out of the ordinary.

The generation that once ran wild and wreaked all sorts of havoc on the road now eats French snails at a local bar. How times have changed and the hard have softened.

Though, some may say, it takes a bigger man (or woman) to adjust to life's vicissitudes -- or simply put, just because biker gangs may not be intimidating anymore doesn't mean they're not tough. As Progressive's 2009 survey found, aging bikers are more open to embracing their feelings than non-riders, who may be too afraid to let it all out.

--Maria Murriel

Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Miami New Times staff