Best Intimate Music Venue 2020 | Bar Nancy | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Courtesy of Nancy

Hidden among an overwhelming row of Latin clubs and restaurants in Little Havana's Calle Ocho, Bar Nancy offers a maritime-themed dive for spirits, music, and delicious food. The small stage sports an unforgettably large American flag that serves as a backdrop — in non-COVID times — for bands performing in styles that include reggae, folk, and jazz. The bar is currently open for a daily happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m., with grubs from the Cheese Stands Alone.

Photo by Lauren Morell

Unfortunately, there will be no 2020 edition of Rakastella, but that's not going to stop us from waxing poetic about one of Miami's most underrated music festivals. Every December, during Miami Art Week, throngs of partygoers skip out on the fairs and head to Virginia Key Beach Park for a sunset-to-sunrise party. The event, a collaboration of Life and Death, Innervisions, Secret Garden, PL0T, and Where Are My Keys, boasts a who's who of underground dance acts like Dixon, DJ Tennis, Âme, DJ Harvey, Apparat, and Moscoman. But the best part of the festival is the intimate, almost shipwrecked experience it provides, feeling worlds away from the art-induced chaos happening on the other side of the Rickenbacker Causeway.

Photo by Santi Ibanez

It wasn't always easy to groove in the Grove. The DJs claimed Wynwood and downtown as their sovereign territories while areas like Coconut Grove had to wrap it up by 2 a.m., with few beats heard during the night. But gradually, the monthly DJ shindigs known as Coconut Groove began gaining traction, with deep electronic sounds at bars like Barracuda and the now-closed Tavern in the Grove. With their usual haunts shutting down during the pandemic, members of the Coconut Groove local collective — Juan Fonseca, Kike Roldan, Koranoir, Soto, and others — took to playing on the Internet for their happy-hour live-stream sets every Friday around 5 p.m. The Coconut Groove stream, which opts for a bare-bones aesthetic that lets the music do the talking, can be found on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch; viewers can expect to hear techno and house being spun by a DJ or two, usually somewhere deep in the Grove: a backyard, rooftop, or living room with a neon-blue "Show Me Love" fixture shining on the wall. The future is uncertain, but the music is set for every Friday.

Karli Evans

There's something about dance music that inspires fervent joy and togetherness — and if ever there was a year everyone needed to come together, it's 2020. But with the shuttering of nightclubs at the beginning of the pandemic, one of Miami's defining features — its nightlife — was extinguished overnight. Leave it to Club Space to come to the rescue with a continuous set of livestreams showcasing a cavalry of DJs behind the deck of its terrace. Danny Daze, DJ Tennis, Shiba San, and Marco Carola all took up the challenge of keeping the dance music alive as the world seemed to burn. While Space has since reopened — albeit with limited capacity and strict rules — the 11th Street stalwart continues to stream from time to time; indulge yourself at Personally, we wouldn't mind if every weekend set was broadcast going forward.

Photo courtesy of Life and Death

Life and Death Records wasn't born in Miami, but its founder, Manfredi Romano (aka DJ Tennis), has called Miami home for several years. The record label has undeniably been influenced by the city, as evidenced by projects going back to label imprint Parachute's release of Poorgrrrl's Pitiparti EP in 2016. Life and Death also puts on the annual Rakastella party marathon at Virginia Key Beach Park every December, and it recently launched an online portal at that includes exclusive music, artist interviews, podcasts, and more, highlighting talent abroad and right here in the 305.

Photo by Rafael Pichardo

North Miami's Found Sound Records has what everyone wants from a record store: no frills, no judging, and a solid collection to dig through. Rafael "Ralph" Pichardo, born and raised in Miami, was tired of hauling heavy stacks of vinyl to record fairs, finally deciding to open a permanent store when a good deal popped up on a storefront rental. Found Sound opened in December 2019, and although it had to close for a few months because of city shutdowns, Pichardo says people are still coming out and shopping for music. Every Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m. at Found Sound, Pichardo (RAP79) streams a new episode of his radio show, Above the Clouds Radio.

Photo by Freddy Deboe

If you've ever made it out to Honey at Las Rosas, one of Mango Hill Records' legendary soul and funk parties, then you've had the pleasure of seeing one of the label's star outfits, Jason Joshua and the Beholders, take flight. Frontman Jason Joshua's high-energy, high-emotion showmanship conjures up the perennial romanticism of funk's heyday as he commits wholeheartedly to each note and each longing falsetto. This year, the act delivered its long-awaited debut, Alegría y Tristeza, a chronicle of love and passion in the Beholders' truest style. Recorded in Miami and mastered by Alex Abrash (Marvin Gaye, Fania All-Stars), the album is a feel-good ode to South Florida funk, meant to be blasted on the dance floor.

If someone had asked us in 1994 if Y100 would still be on the air in 2020, we couldn't have said for sure. A lot has changed over the past few decades, but trusty Y100 — "Miami's #1 Hit Music Station" — still stands at 100.7 on the FM dial. From Elvis Duran to Taylor Jukes to Drew to Frankie P, Y100 is still the soundtrack for trips to the mall, to a friend's house, or just running around town. While other outlets from the same era have come and gone, Y100 remains one of Miami's leading radio stations, finding success in its loyalty to the Top 40 format. You won't find any niche stuff here, just the meat and potatoes of the music landscape. On The Y100 Streaming Report, a recent addition to the lineup that airs weekday nights at 8 p.m., Frankie P spotlights the top songs streaming locally.

Photo by Monica McGivern

Since 1996, Lucy Lopez has been a staple of Power 96.5 FM. Plucked straight out of college to work for Miami's party station, the ever-popular Lopez hosts the Power 96 Morning Show from 6 to 10 a.m. every day. Many South Floridians wouldn't think of waking up or driving to work in the morning without her cheery, infectious voice in the background. Music is an afterthought when it comes to what makes Lopez and the Morning Show practically a part of Miami itself; it's the daily commentary on current events and community news, along with the entertaining jokes, bits and banter, that have kept listeners coming back for almost 25 years. Lucy Lopez is the Dwyane Wade of FM radio in these parts: Life in South Florida wouldn't be the same without her.

Photo courtesy of WPLG

Born and raised in Miami, FIU grad Nicole Perez joined Channel 10 in 2016 as a traffic reporter but now co-anchors the nightly news. In any other year, she would have been out in front, covering the biggest story of this generation. When it came to reporting on COVID-19, however, she found herself part of the story. Perez contracted the virus, along with her husband, Roy Ramos, also a Local 10 News reporter, back in July. Her recovery became a topic covered by Channel 10, helping to inform the public in a very real way just how serious the virus was. Her recent return to our living rooms reminded us just what we'd been missing while she was recovering. Smart, energetic and extremely well versed in what is happening in the South Florida community, Perez feels like a member of the family. We're glad she's back, doing what she does best: providing South Floridians with the best news coverage in the market.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®