Live Music Venues in South Florida
By Carlos Harrison
Imagine a giant block party in the sprawling courtyard of your hip neighbor’s 1920s house, with craft brews, a DJ spinning music mixes, a cool crowd, and colorful murals adorning the walls.
That’s pretty much what Brick House is like, part beer garden and part house party. It’s a dance bar and gathering place set up in a prohibition-era house in the heart of Miami’s trendy Wynwood Arts District. It’s a place for friends and soon-to-be friends to meet and move their feet, or just take a seat and enjoy the sweet blend of music new and not so, with something for just about everyone.
“If you kind of want to get jiggy with it, this is the place,” said Jared Smith, one of the founders of Woodnite Radio, an Internet radio show that bills itself as the source of “what’s good in the ’wood.”
The original brick house the place is named for is now part of the indoor lounge area, and where the line queues up for the two unisex – but private – bathrooms. It’s also where you’ll find one of the two bars, offering small-batch whiskeys, like Michter’s US 1 Original Sour Mash and Knob Creek Kentucky Straight Bourbon, and an impressive variety of craft beers ranging from pale ales to full-bodied porters. They’ve got Florida Cracker from Tampa, Funky Buddha from nearby Oakland Park, and Thunderstruck Coffee Porter from faraway Asheville, N.C.
And, if you get hungry, there’s a selection of pub grub to sink your teeth into including baked mac & cheese bites with cheddar and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses, angus sliders with garlic aioli, or Venezuelan style cheese tequeños.
But the thing that sets people swaying, keeps them on their feet, and keeps them coming back is the music. There’s a rotating crew of regular DJs handling the mixes. Depending on the night of the week, you might find DJ A-Train, Affect, or DJane. The night I’m there, it’s Jimbo Slice, spinning tunes from today and before. There’s the pretty new “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson, featuring Bruno Mars; a little less so “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke; and a relative granddaddy, but perpetual favorite (at least in South Florida), “Is This Love” by Bob Marley.”
“I’m a very open-format DJ,” said Jimbo Slice. “This is my house right here. I try to mix young with old – everything.”
It works. First-time visitor Daniela Skirsky danced by a group of friends. They were there celebrating her birthday.
“It’s the kind of music we grew up with in middle school. But there’s new, too,” she said. “He’s mixing it up pretty well.”
Her friends are gathered at one of the handful of picnic tables that serve as seating and dining area. Some others are playing an oversized version of Jenga. They’re out under an open sky, under the strings of lights splayed overhead like a twinkling shower of stars. Interlocked brick pavers and live trees sprouting along the walls add to the feel of someone’s backyard patio. Brightly colored paintings swirl and balloon like cartoonish Boteros drawn with Romero Britto’s brilliant palette behind the outdoor bar.
“I love the ambiance, the way it’s set up with the artwork and stuff,” said Peter Baptiste, who’s come for happy hour with a group of friends and co-workers. “It’s a great place for people to come together.”
187 NW 28th St., Miami, Fla., 33127
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Everyone from top name DJs like Ruby Rose to hip hop stars like Rick Ross play here. So have Pitbull and Flo Rida. It’s where the University of Miami Hurricanes unveiled their new jerseys, and where Sports Illustrated hosted its Club SI: Swimsuit fest, with a parade of its signature edition models in attendance.In short, you never know who you might spot – at a safe distance, behind the velvet ropes and separated by security. LIV is large, loud, lavish, and luxe to the max.Set inside the historic Fontainebleau hotel on Miami Beach, it’s the premiere player on the South Florida nightclub scene, with 18,000 square feet of dance and VIP space, awash in the spray of pulsing laser lights. The cover costs anywhere from $20 to $40, but can go to $100, or more, for name acts. There’s a strict door policy, which means dress to impress – really impress! – if you want to get in.
4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, Fla., 33140
Hip enough for the Miami Heat to have rented the place for a private party. Story is a truly immense dance space – as in 27,000 square feet, with a high-tech sound system, concert lighting, girls in tutus and a circus-style setting, and a rotating list of name DJs. That means DJ Stevie J, Deorro, Dada Life, and Kaskade.Like electronic dance music? Story’s list of acts includes Alesso, AN21 and Green Velvet. Hip hop more your style? Say hello to Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz.Or maybe you’re into the Biebs – Justin Bieber. He headlines there, too. The cover charge is $20 to-$40 depending on the DJ. Wear upscale nightclub attire if you really want to get in, and be prepared to wait.
136 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, Fla., 33139
The name said a lot. Lagniappe means “1. A small gift presented by the owner to a customer with the customer’s purchase; 2. An extra or unexpected gift or benefit.”This taste of the Big Easy in Miami’s Design District definitely fits the bill. It’s a New Orleans-style wine and beer bar, but, oh, so much more. They keep the craft beers stocked in refrigerators, and the wines – some 150 from small-production vintners from around the world – fill racks by the bar. The selection has earned it places on Wine Enthusiasts “Top Wine Bars in America” and Thrillist’s “21 Best Wine Bars in the Country.”There’s also a short and very reasonably priced BBQ grill menu, plus an assortment of cheeses and charcuterie. Lagniappe boasts an assortment of live jazz, soul, folk, blues or bluegrass music, with a different group (and style) playing every night. This is a place to let your ears feast, along with your palate.
3425 NE 2nd Ave., Miami Fla., 33137
Guest DJs, live music, line dancing, two pool tables, and a mechanical bull.Don’t worry if you haven’t line danced before. There are free lessons and 2,000 square feet of dance floor to treat your tooties to a Two-Step, East-Coast Swing, West-Coast Swing, or Cha-Cha, just to name a few.They feature guest DJs and live broadcasts on KISS country radio Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and aim to have at least one national act playing live at the club every month. Past headliners have included Jerrod Niemann, Jon Pardi, and David Nail. There’s also a full menu offering Southern fare like chicken and waffles, catfish and country fried steak, plus a full beer and liquor bar.
1805 S University Dr., Davie, Fla., 33324
Drink specials, free country dance lessons every night, and regular live music with some of the top names in country western.The list of stars to play this Davie club includes Florida Georgia Line, Chase Rice, Brett Eldredge, Cole Swindell, Luke Bryan, Gloriana, Craig Morgan, Tracy Lawrence, Colt Ford, Michael Ray, Justin Moore, Jason Aldean, Jake Owen, and more.Round Up offers a full menu to fill you up with comfort treats like corn nuggets and popcorn shrimp, fireside chili and “Colossal BBQ Ribs” they swear are so darn colossal “A ten gallon hat can't hold all this!”
Round Up Country Western Nightclub
9020 West State Road 84, Davie, Fla., 33324