Tap Tap owner Gina Cunningham wanted to offer karaoke to her customers, but she wasn't about to set the scene for a bunch of schmaltz-lovers crooning "Feelings." Enter James Small, the James Brown of karaoke. A bus driver from Fort Lauderdale, Small appears at Tap Tap on occasional weekend nights, sporting a leather vest over his muscled chest and toting his soulful karaoke machine, outfitted with R&B and rock hits. The Tap Tap crowd (an international mix of artists, journalists, and assorted passersby) responds accordingly. Someone struts like Mick Jagger on top of the bar while singing "Sexual Healing"; a many-accented and heavily inebriated chorus joins together on "Imagine"; a Haitian laundry worker who speaks no English shakes maracas to the beat of "Don't Worry, Be Happy." If you never thought karaoke could be cool, this might change your mind.

Hear the one about the guy who ate piles of raw fish, guzzled vats of booze, listened to karaoke all night -- and didn't throw up? He didn't blow his bankroll, either, because he mixed these hedonistic and gastronomically treacherous delights at the Tokyo Club, one of the Beach's great defenders of kitschy fun, all-you-can-eat sushi, all-you-can-drink weekends, and (ahem) karaoke. The daily sushi feast goes for $11.99, the weekend eat-and-drink combo is a mere $20 ($15 for women). Sushi, shots, and sing-alongs might sound like a joke, but the Japanese find nothing funny about it. As for the Tokyo Club's patrons, they can barely contain their pleasure.

Hear the one about the guy who ate piles of raw fish, guzzled vats of booze, listened to karaoke all night -- and didn't throw up? He didn't blow his bankroll, either, because he mixed these hedonistic and gastronomically treacherous delights at the Tokyo Club, one of the Beach's great defenders of kitschy fun, all-you-can-eat sushi, all-you-can-drink weekends, and (ahem) karaoke. The daily sushi feast goes for $11.99, the weekend eat-and-drink combo is a mere $20 ($15 for women). Sushi, shots, and sing-alongs might sound like a joke, but the Japanese find nothing funny about it. As for the Tokyo Club's patrons, they can barely contain their pleasure.

It was a dark day in June when creditors and city regulators forced Ira Cohen and his son Danny to shutter the venerable 1800 Club. Long a favorite watering hole of scribblers, flatfoots, and politicos, the 1800 Club was a noir cave of a bar with all the comfort of a living room but half the light. A year into their lease, the Cohens' questionable management, epitomized by the manager himself disappearing to Vegas for almost a month, took its toll. By late spring the waitresses had mutinied and quit en masse. The Ader family, which has owned the bar since William Ader, Jr., built it in 1955, refused to walk away from the joint. They brought in Richard Mixon, who supervised a hurried overhaul in an attempt to reopen by November in time for basketball season and the clientele drawn to nearby Heat games. The kitchen was steam-cleaned. Workers sandblasted 40-plus years of nicotine off the walls, instantly rendering the place twice as bright. Mixon made his deadline, but the NBA went on strike. Nonetheless patrons began to trickle back. Eventually basketball's moneyed players returned to their hardwood floors. The 1800 Club was back in business like a hack reporter with a freshly sharpened pencil. We breathed a sigh of relief and ordered another round.
It was a dark day in June when creditors and city regulators forced Ira Cohen and his son Danny to shutter the venerable 1800 Club. Long a favorite watering hole of scribblers, flatfoots, and politicos, the 1800 Club was a noir cave of a bar with all the comfort of a living room but half the light. A year into their lease, the Cohens' questionable management, epitomized by the manager himself disappearing to Vegas for almost a month, took its toll. By late spring the waitresses had mutinied and quit en masse. The Ader family, which has owned the bar since William Ader, Jr., built it in 1955, refused to walk away from the joint. They brought in Richard Mixon, who supervised a hurried overhaul in an attempt to reopen by November in time for basketball season and the clientele drawn to nearby Heat games. The kitchen was steam-cleaned. Workers sandblasted 40-plus years of nicotine off the walls, instantly rendering the place twice as bright. Mixon made his deadline, but the NBA went on strike. Nonetheless patrons began to trickle back. Eventually basketball's moneyed players returned to their hardwood floors. The 1800 Club was back in business like a hack reporter with a freshly sharpened pencil. We breathed a sigh of relief and ordered another round.
The rock scene in Miami isn't exactly overwhelming. In fact it's barely even a scene. But alas there is Churchill's, that dingy, down-to-earth, ultra-British multipurpose pub so often lauded here. It's the place to catch surf-punk legends Agent Orange, experimental rock bands such as Melt Banana and Blonde Redhead, the balls-to-the-walls rock and roll of Nashville Pussy or the Belmont Playboys, the acoustic touch of Diane Ward, and the noise of Rat Bastard and the Laundry Room Squelchers (to name a few). Virtually every local band is welcome to play at Churchill's, and most do. None of which is revelation: Over the past five years, a period when there were other rock clubs around, the unpretentious spot in Little Haiti topped this category four times, with good reasons, including its huge selection of beers and bottom-of-the-barrel prices. The Church offers laissez-faire rock (and drinking and partying) at its grittiest. Proprietor Dave Daniels says that after 40 years in the entertainment business, a lack of musical philosophy propels Churchill's. "I don't like so much of the music, so I don't regulate it from that point of view," Daniels declares. And now getting to Churchill's may be even easier than ever. Daniels recently overhauled an English double-decker bus, and he says that given the right circumstances, he'll provide round-trip transportation for groups of fans.
The rock scene in Miami isn't exactly overwhelming. In fact it's barely even a scene. But alas there is Churchill's, that dingy, down-to-earth, ultra-British multipurpose pub so often lauded here. It's the place to catch surf-punk legends Agent Orange, experimental rock bands such as Melt Banana and Blonde Redhead, the balls-to-the-walls rock and roll of Nashville Pussy or the Belmont Playboys, the acoustic touch of Diane Ward, and the noise of Rat Bastard and the Laundry Room Squelchers (to name a few). Virtually every local band is welcome to play at Churchill's, and most do. None of which is revelation: Over the past five years, a period when there were other rock clubs around, the unpretentious spot in Little Haiti topped this category four times, with good reasons, including its huge selection of beers and bottom-of-the-barrel prices. The Church offers laissez-faire rock (and drinking and partying) at its grittiest. Proprietor Dave Daniels says that after 40 years in the entertainment business, a lack of musical philosophy propels Churchill's. "I don't like so much of the music, so I don't regulate it from that point of view," Daniels declares. And now getting to Churchill's may be even easier than ever. Daniels recently overhauled an English double-decker bus, and he says that given the right circumstances, he'll provide round-trip transportation for groups of fans.
You've spent hours sweltering on the sidewalk, climbing on a chair, hopping on a table, jumping up and down. At last you've made eye contact with the door gorilla/bouncer. As the crimson velvet ropes part, you thank the nightlife gods that your Versace suit is black. Better to mask the sweat stains dampening your armpits. Fork over twenty bucks, stroll through the doors, you're in. Swagger to the VIP room, where your buddy said he'd meet you. But which VIP room? There are three. You check out the front ground-floor area, where the artfully arranged couches artfully show no sign of him. You head to the back of the club, home of two more VIP rooms. He's not in the ground-level area, but actor Samuel L. Jackson, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and comedians Chris Rock and David Alan Grier are nonchalantly hanging out there. Soon you spot your friend on the second floor, high above the hoi polloi. He's smiling, sipping champagne, talking to, gulp, comely models/gorgeous actresses: Daisy Fuentes, Fran Drescher, Jennifer Lopez, all tilting back their heads while laughing at his jokes. The stocky sentry at the foot of the stairs eyes you suspiciously. He knows you're a no one. You protest: You are someone. Plus your friend upstairs is expecting you. Bouncer knows the drill: Everyone's someone. And everyone's friend is up in the VIP room. You offer him a Jackson, a Grant, even a Franklin. He doesn't flinch. You see, you may have the cash. You just don't have the cachet.
You've spent hours sweltering on the sidewalk, climbing on a chair, hopping on a table, jumping up and down. At last you've made eye contact with the door gorilla/bouncer. As the crimson velvet ropes part, you thank the nightlife gods that your Versace suit is black. Better to mask the sweat stains dampening your armpits. Fork over twenty bucks, stroll through the doors, you're in. Swagger to the VIP room, where your buddy said he'd meet you. But which VIP room? There are three. You check out the front ground-floor area, where the artfully arranged couches artfully show no sign of him. You head to the back of the club, home of two more VIP rooms. He's not in the ground-level area, but actor Samuel L. Jackson, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and comedians Chris Rock and David Alan Grier are nonchalantly hanging out there. Soon you spot your friend on the second floor, high above the hoi polloi. He's smiling, sipping champagne, talking to, gulp, comely models/gorgeous actresses: Daisy Fuentes, Fran Drescher, Jennifer Lopez, all tilting back their heads while laughing at his jokes. The stocky sentry at the foot of the stairs eyes you suspiciously. He knows you're a no one. You protest: You are someone. Plus your friend upstairs is expecting you. Bouncer knows the drill: Everyone's someone. And everyone's friend is up in the VIP room. You offer him a Jackson, a Grant, even a Franklin. He doesn't flinch. You see, you may have the cash. You just don't have the cachet.
"You're not here to pick up a girl. This is not a pick-up joint," warns Frank Hunt, manager of Peg's. "This is more like 1950, if you went into a pool place and knew everybody. You come in here if you want to have fun." Peg's is fourteen Ivan Simonis-felted, regulation-size (nine-and-a-half-foot) tables of old-school pool. The kind of place where the regulars all bring their own sticks. Where the clean-up boy nurses his own dreams of going pro, and shoots like he's well on his way. The place even hosts some pros, like "Super Mario" Cruz, who works out there regularly. ("It's like family around here," Cruz offers.) The parlor offers beer, wine, and pizza, but, Hunt notes, "we sell more [bottled] water than anything." Novices won't feel intimidated. Heck, they have a "Terrible Players Eight-Ball Tournament." Though not conducive to picking up a date, Peg's caters to anyone looking to pick up some pointers. Hunt will give you the lowdown on stance, grip, and sighting. Then he'll politely leave you alone to sink that shot, or just sink.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®