Long a glittery weekend salsa pit, Club Millennium now offers a welcome respite to Latin rockers who complain they get no respect in Miami. The Doral-area disco caters to the South American kids of the city's western suburbs with a Thursday-night series of the best Latin rock acts from Tijuana to Buenos Aires. Heavy on the frenzied sounds of the Southern Cone, the new era of Rock en Español began in January 2000 with Argentine underground institution Los Pericos. In March fellow porteño Fito Paez drew the biggest crowd to date. The fanatic exuberance of Fito-starved fans pissed off the formerly radical rocker as he tried to play a toned-down set of his best-loved tunes on piano with nothing but a bass accompaniment. Flapping his arms like a Muppet, Paez implored the crowd to shut the doors, indulge in an orgy, then listen quietly to his music in the postclimactic calm. Somebody set off the sprinkler system by waving his lighter in the air instead. One way or the other, Club Millennium is letting Miami get its Spanish-language rock off like never before.

Since when do people dance at a karaoke night? Patrons usually are too busy cringing from the wails of the aspiring vocalist at the mike to consider boogying. But every Wednesday evening at Hooligan's, a neighborhood crew unabashedly jumps up and cuts the rug to the sounds of a seemingly endless stream of would-be starlets gracing the stage. Of course it's possible that people are dancing because they're soused from the cheap ladies' night drinks. Who knows and, frankly, who cares? The ladies' night and karaoke combo provokes more singing and dancing than if either theme night stood on its own. It's also more fun.
Both pipes open up on a stretch of road as long and flat as the devil's driveway, and that damn tropical sun beats down on you like a mess o' troopers on road-kill day. Your machine's growling like a hungry lion, and your ol' lady starts whining that she'd like something to drink. Problem is, nothing around. You could backtrack to some fast-food joint in a mall near Florida City, or follow that endless black ribbon south to where the mangroves muscle out the sun and you get a little shade. Screw it. You keep your knees in the breeze until you hit Alabama Jack's, a biker-friendly white-trash tiki hut with pizzazz. The hogs are lined up by the split-rail fence like horses at a hitching post. The bar is perched over the water, so a cool wind always blows. Now your baby's changed her tune: She's cooing what a good idea this was. You kick up your boots, lean back, and rub your tattooed belly as the waitress plunks down a cold one. This'll do, this'll do. Jack's, now in its 52nd year, is open seven days a week, from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Off the beaten path, ensconced in the suburbs of Homestead, is the area's most musician-friendly open-mike night. Itching to play Friday evening, but don't have a guitar handy? No problem. One of the café's four owners, Laurie Oudin, will lend you her battered Ovation, if you ask. How's it sound? Pretty damn good. Want to sound better? Invite MCing regulars, keyboardist Chuck Acevedo and guitarist Scott Emmons, to perform with you. Suddenly you'll find yourself sounding like ... a band. Gotta have more? Play well enough and you will be invited back Saturday night to sit in with house band the Pathfinders. In addition to the fun, the Main Street Café also offers a wide variety of vegetarian dishes and a respectable beer selection. Those who bomb can seek consolation in the establishment's tasty cherry cobbler pie à la mode.

There's little shortage of DJs in Miami, and if you poke around town beyond the velvet ropes, you might even find a couple spinning some half-interesting music. Disc jockeys in the literal sense, however -- individuals skilled in riding high in the saddle and coaxing their treasured vinyl collections to new and transcendent feats -- are a rare find in these parts. Which makes the local outings of DJ LeSpam (Andrew Yeomanson) all the more treasured. Whatever his given venue (the opening of a new Little Havana performance space, a private birthday party, a laid-back night at Brandt's Break -- R.I.P.) or his chosen approach for the evening (vintage Sixties soul burners, sleazy funk workouts, or perhaps tweaked hip-hop and abstract breaks), LeSpam is sure to combine a joyfully cockeyed spirit of sonic adventurousness with a determination to keep the butts of his listeners in serious motion.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®