Local Music

Miami's Music Scene Absorbs the Loss of Las Rosas

It had been a dream for Vanesa Perez (AKA Viper) to perform at Las Rosas.
It had been a dream for Vanesa Perez (AKA Viper) to perform at Las Rosas. Photo courtesy of Viper
Known for its rock 'n' roll atmosphere, well-loved jukebox ready for any and all requests, and the neon-red rose that illuminated its backroom stage, Las Rosas was home to a variety of musicians and locals away from the touristy commotion in nearby Wynwood.

That's why the Allapattah venue's sudden closure last month was met with a mixture of sadness and anger from patrons. Its absence is a blow for lovers of underground music.

Like many small businesses, the bar faced intense financial drawbacks during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Cesar Morales, the owner of Miami Bar Group, which included Las Rosas, the bar never fully recovered.

"There was debt and even a lawsuit with investors that really complicated things," Morales explained in a post on Las Rosas' Instagram page. "We fell behind in rent and things started to get really messy. Other bars in Miami Bar Group were keeping Rosas alive, but now those bars were suffering because of it."

In a city whose music scene is constantly flooded with burgeoning talent, Las Rosas was revered as one of the few spaces where local artists could connect with audiences while promoting their own music on a slightly bigger scale. When Las Rosas celebrated its fifth anniversary in early June, patrons flocked to honor the music hub as an integrated element of the community.

The bar also became a staple venue for locals thanks to its low drink prices and policy of never charging a cover. From alternative to punk, newcomers and returning clientele alike could find their taste, no matter how niche.
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Las Rosas was revered as one of the few spaces where local artists could connect with audiences.
Photo by Wolfpak Images/@wolfpakimages
"I had always dreamed of playing a show at Las Rosas," says Vanesa Perez, who performed at the venue's last show under the stage name Viper. "I've only played a handful of shows in Miami and the ambiance of Las Rosas made me feel like a true rock star. It was such a humble, safe haven for creatives and music aficionados."

News of the closure came as a shock to musicians and staff on the night of the bar's last show. In the same Instagram post where Morales announced the closure to the public, he attributed the quick decision to complications in the Miami Bar Group's finances in the past week and a failed business deal to sell Las Rosas to an interested buyer.

"Tensions were very, very high [on the night of the last show]," says Enrique Rosell, guitarist and vocalist for Stillblue, one of the last acts to perform at the bar. "People found out one second to another that they don't have a job anymore. So as we're loading in and sound-checking, people are crying. We didn't fully understand what was happening."

With the closure of Las Rosas, yet another obstacle arises for local musicians looking to break out in Greater Miami. Its demise inters the beloved hot spot in a graveyard of other locals-centered casualties of the pandemic and the influx of new businesses and developers. (In addition to Las Rosas, Morales shut down popular Wynwood hangouts Wood Tavern and Pizza & Beer.)

"A lot of times in Miami, you just don't know what's going to be around," says Sofia Soriano, a member of Stillblue. "It's definitely going with the punches in a lot of ways. Thankfully, there are still venues, and I feel like this music scene will make stuff happen even if there are no venues."
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Allapattah, where Las Rosas once called home, is garnering attention from developers.
Photo by Wolfpak Images/@wolfpakimages
Allapattah, which Las Rosas called home, is garnering attention from developers like businessman Moishe Mana, who recently bought the property occupied by Las Rosas along with several others in the neighborhood, for $16 million. The area's location adjacent to artsy and edgy Wynwood has piqued the interest of Mana and other investors as the next up-and-coming neighborhood. Though no plans have been announced, similar investments from commercial developers Lissette Calderon, Integra Investments, and others in the area might signal a move to residential or office space.

"I think it's a matter of supporting venues that are still there, but then also putting pressure on our elected officials to prioritize the people that are still in these communities and local businesses that are the heart of Miami," Rosell says. "There's a way to put resources in the community without pushing people out."

Recent events notwithstanding,  many artists argue they're already used to dealing with the uncertainty of the industry in Miami.

"The 'music scene' in Miami is very hit or miss," says AJ Navarrete, drummer for the Radiohead cover band Ghost Horses. "Us personally, we're lucky to have a great team in both booking and marketing internally. This city is not that easy to break into venues for stage time, so we're just gonna keep axing away."

Though stripped of its red neon lights and fog-machine haziness, Las Rosas has left a legacy in Miami's music community beyond its humble existence. Perhaps those who will carry its spirit the most are the very musicians who entertained its audiences for years, as many are more determined than ever to continue pursuing what got them to the historic locale in the first place.

"When a rose seed is planted, it grows, blooms, and flourishes but needs to dwindle to create more life," Vanesa Perez observes. "Every single person who stepped foot into Las Rosas took a piece of it with them and now have their very own rose seed to plant. The spirit of Las Rosas will live forever as long as local music lovers continue to spread its seeds wherever they choose to groove."
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