Nightclub Jitters

Cheers, the SW Seventeenth Avenue lesbian bar that has featured punk bands two nights a week (Thursday and Saturday) for the last year, expands its schedule beginning this Saturday, October 7, when the club will start bringing in bands that play rock, acoustic, and alternative music. The lineup for opening night includes the Goods, I Don't Know, Arlan, Matt Sabatella, Joe Popp, the Brian Franklin Group, the Wilcoxes, Nuclear Valdez, Darwin's Waiting Room, Red Road, and the Baboons.

Under the new booking policy, Saturday night will showcase local rock and alternative bands, while every Wednesday will be Coffeehouse Night, the first of which takes place on October 11 with Brian Franklin, Diane Ward, and Matt Sabatella. Promoter Andy Osofsky's Word of Mouth Productions will handle bookings on those two nights. Thursday will retain its all-ages punk and hard-core format, with national, regional, and local punk acts performing. Cheers will continue its lesbian-bar format (recorded dance music -- no bands) on Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday (the bar is closed on Monday).

"Something we'd been kicking around since we bought the place in October was how we could incorporate what we love -- live music -- with what we set out to do," explains Gaye Levine, co-owner of Cheers. "We've gotten a great response. Some lesbians come in with their teenage kids on Thursdays because their kids are into the [punk] music."

Levine also points out that there is a huge portion of the gay community that isn't interested in the dance music Cheers features on its regular nights. "Nowadays it's hard to stick with one format and make it work," she says. "And it's not an issue of what they are, as what they want to listen to. There are girls that won't listen to punk but will come out for live rock music, and many lesbians are into the acoustic scene. We want to offer a different kind of vibe each night of the week, since we have a large mixed clientele coming in to enjoy the music."

In addition to booking local bands, Osofsky says he plans to have national acts, especially ones that usually bypass Miami. "There are some great bands that have been on tour several times before being broken on the radio in this town," notes Osofsky, "and we don't want to miss those any more." By featuring bands that previously have not played Cheers, Osofsky hopes to attract students from the nearby University of Miami campus. "The students are an element that should be introduced into the local music scene, and I want to make it accessible to them so they don't have to go out of their way to do that," he observes. "The location is ideal -- people don't have to drive all the way to either South Beach or Little Haiti. Too many kids just go to the Grove and don't look at other options.

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Georgina Cardenas