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.
Scully's Tavern
Photo courtesy of 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.
Archie's Gourmet Pizza
The bloody mary comes in a variety of manifestations, from tepid tomato juice to lava with a celery stick. Any decent bloody mary must meet two criteria: It must be large, and it must be spicy. Archie's excellent concoction ($7.50) comes in a pint glass (garnished with an eight-inch celery stick, of course) and contains enough pepper to bite though not enough to scald. Archie's austere version of this classic drink is simple and delicious. And it gets you drunk. If you're planning on consuming two or more of them, you should probably accompany the liquor with some of Archie's excellent food (try the grilled chicken and couscous).
Yes, yes, Sasha and John Digweed killed at Winter Music Conference, Ti‘sto's parties are great fun if you can get in, and Desyn Masiello and the guys in Deep Dish are hot. These turntablists and many, many others make Miami a DJ mecca. Yet even though these elite are in Miami frequently, they are not from Miami and are just as likely to be in Amsterdam, Los Angeles, or Buenos Aires as they are at Space. You're not going to run into them in the produce aisle at Publix; they're not going to buy you a drink after you fight with your boyfriend at Glass. This cannot be said of Deejay Smeejay, who is in the house and in full effect every day and every night right here in our city (and who will get you that vodka tonic before the first tear smears your Manic Panic mascara). Smeejay has what you might call "residencies" at the Marlin and at Automatic Slim's, and he plays lots and lots of private parties for everyone from jewelry emporium Teno to Ocean Drive magazine. His playlist varies depending on the venue, his clients' instructions, and his mood (he sometimes reads the New York Post during particularly introverted sets). But Smeejay is the real deal, a guy who came up through the days of mixing twelve-inch vinyl of the Barkays and Danse Society with each disc's beats per minute marked in red ink on the label. He has easily segued to digital with nary a second of nostalgia, keeping him a viable player. And Smeejay is happy to share; he regularly dances his ass off at clubs all around town, giving love and appreciation to today's superstar DJs as well as lending a hand to the up-and-comers. Oh, yeah, and he donates his talents each year to the White Party and other charities benefitting those less fortunate. Rock on, Deejay Smeejay.
Although the Bang! Festival this past November didn't blow up like organizers had hoped, those who did show up, and stuck it out until the end, got their money's worth. Looking like Cirque du Soleil on acid, New York-based electro-pop group Fischerspooner was the antithesis of the stand-and-spin DJs who had been working the turntables all day. The band and back-up singers appeared first in kaleidoscopic unitards. Then lead singer Casey Spooner was wrapped in white, gauzy bandages, which dancers then unraveled. Costume changes, stage antics that included climbing scaffolding, and general flamboyance -- Spooner and his entourage never let the energy level dip below 500 bpm.
Punk/indie-rock show promoter extraordinaire New Art School began this series early last year in the hope of giving local bands and local artists alike some face time. While each show boasted a different theme -- a Guided by Voices tribute, for example -- one factor remains constant: These events are always packed. There have been five to date, and be on the lookout for more. Someone who takes the initiative to celebrate music and art -- in the same place, at the same time -- certainly deserves a high-five.
La Covacha is Spanish for "The Shack," which is fitting, because this Latin dance club in Doral is, well, a big-ass shack. The only difference between this oversize tiki hut and your typical shanty is that this one tends to draw hordes that are willing to stand behind a velvet rope and wait in a line to get in. Waiting to get into a shack? Velvet rope? Once you're in on a Friday night, between 8:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., it'll all make sense. The shack is actually a huge club space, where the whole crowd dances, hot and sweaty, to the sounds of live superstars like Andrea Echeverri, local Latin rock bands, or one of the many regular DJs who spin anything Latin and danceable. Even if you move like a complete idiot, the crowd is so large and the environment so friendly you'll feel totally unselfconscious (a couple of the happy-hour drinks will help too). If you get hungry from all the booty-shaking, La Covacha's full kitchen offers traditional Cuban cuisine. The cover is $10, and you must be 21 or older.
On the Rocks Bar
Photo by Keara O'Neil
Even those blessed with an ironclad constitution will find themselves hacking from the stench of spilled booze and cigarette smoke ripening this dimly lighted joint. And that's while standing on the sidewalk before venturing inside. This seedy storefront establishment may not be much to look at, and those tarantulas and hedgehogs displayed in the pet-shop window next door do pass for kissing kin to regulars at the watering hole, but then you ask yourself: Why is it always packed? Hungry? Forget about it. Feel like dancing? Stay away. Lost the job and want to drown your sorrows with that last ten spot before hitting the skids? Cheer up -- the hooch fairy always smiles on the piss broke at this throwback paradise for the down and out. Best of all, this dive is open 21 hours a day. Day in and day out the Rock serves up three well drinks or domestic beers for five bucks a batch until 8:00 p.m. and at a cheaper-than-fuel $2.50 each after that. The place draws a mixed crowd -- from your pickled zombies, to your natty business dudes stretching the budget to make alimony payments, to the rare fading beauty scoping you out with her twitchy come-hither gaze. A half-dozen TV sets and sports fans ready to scrap over stats at the blow of a whistle keep the din deafening. An occasional raid or a panhandler cozying up for a free beer adds to the decidedly skeevy charm. It's difficult to think of anywhere else in town where you can be a good sport and buy a stranger a round with your last dime, and maybe for all the down-at-the-heels patina, that's why the Rock keeps reeling them in.
Where else in Miami can you strap on your character shoes and castanet the night away with Sevillian flair not once, not twice, but three times per week? For years the quaint Spanish tavern has put on its fabled House of Flamenco nights Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. At 8:30 and then again at 10:30 p.m. you can watch the stomping or even pound your little corazón out. But don't get up if you have two left feet; otherwise a wily dancer might rope you into the performance. To keep the good vibes going, try the knockout, not-too-sweet sangria. And to keep your strength up, choose from an array of Spanish delights -- from tender paella to juicy, garlicky shrimp. The biggest feast here, though, is a ravishing display for the eyes and ears: powerful vibratos from the singers, soulful guitar work from musicians such as Paco Fonta, and passionate, fierce footwork spilling out from under skirts' lollipop swirls. Olé!
Twist
E.M.
Girrrrrl, don't start spiraling and spilling your cosmo, because Twist won again! Have you checked out the competition recently? Seriously, give us a venue that can out-fab this legendary labyrinth of all things gay and we will happily give her a twirl. But as far as we are concerned, this South Beach staple is the reigning queen of the gay bar scene. What other place -- for the price of, well, nothing, because Twist never charges a cover -- delivers seven bars that span two floors? Not to mention a bountiful bevy of hunks. But the drama-free door policy is not what packs the fellas in night after night: Try two-for-one beverages on Thursdays; Friday's parade of sexy bods shedding their layers and flexing their assets in the Cabana Bar in back (fondly referred to as the dollar store, uh hum!); a game room complete with pool tables should you feel the urge to partake of some testosterone-induced sporting action; female impersonators, including the infamous Adora; a hip-hop room; and drinks served in real glassware (not plastic cups like some places we know whose patrons cannot be trusted with glass for fear they might cut their knees, if you know what we mean). Open seven days a week from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., Twist -- unlike many of Miami's gay bars -- also encourages something near and dear to almost every gay man's heart: the fag-hag. And in the words of Margaret Cho, we were there for you at prom and we are still here now. So order us another cosmo and meet us in the dollar store. Mama's going window shopping, sweetie!

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®