I thought I’d despise the Miami bar scene – roided up dudes sporting their sick gains, frizzy-haired dames sporting their new fake tits and asses. You know what I mean.
Don’t get me wrong, Miami is pretty much all of the above plus more. Most tourists don’t explore anywhere outside the famous South Beach area though and why would they? You can go to Senõr Frogs and get shit faced on tequila before lunch and then hit Wet Willies for a few gallons of frozen alcohol mixed with sugar. Then it’s back to the safety of any number of five star hotels for a party-puke and maybe a bit of awkward, regretful vacation sex with the guy or girl you met in the elevator before calling it a day.
If that’s your thing – fine, but Spring Break woo-girl style holidays haven’t been my cup of tea since Will Smith and his backup singers were welcoming me to Miami on the radio. So I’m going to dish on how Miami surprised me; and it might surprise you too – in a good way.
Wynwood sits just a tad north of downtown or a $10 Über ride from South Beach. It has all the catchings of any budding hipster hangout – abandoned warehouses, ironic t-shirts, dark alleys, butchers turned bars and plenty of bike racks. Pretty much every city in North America has one of these neighbourhoods; the difference here though is the huge contrasts you’ll see in only a ten minute drive.
We started at the centrepiece of the suburb – The Wynwood Walls – a community art project that’s seen unused indoor and outdoor former industrial sites turned into massive free canvasses. Huge tractor tires are scattered around to create seating for anyone that wants to enjoy the free art displays with a few BYO drinks. After soaking up the scene we grew thirsty so headed towards the Butcher Shop (a bar of course), unlucky for us they were wrapping up for the night. The bartender directed us towards a place called Wood where apparently everyone openly smokes weed. He had my attention.
So we hopped up into Wood’s shoulder to shoulder bar and ordered a few random, expensive craft beers to look cool. It was just like any other dive bar – concrete floor, dirty walls & a heavily pierced, tatted up barmaid. It wasn’t until I was half finished my foxes pumpernickel IPA (I made that up) that I noticed a doorway leading to another room. I nodded to my friends to follow and led them into a huge open beer garden packed with people. The sweet smell of marijuana hit my senses immediately and Ginuwine’s “Pony” was pumping. I felt like I was at a high school party – in a good way.
Towards the back corner was some bleacher style seating facing an open area where a game of oversized Jenga was being played. We sat down between two huge black dudes smoking a blunt each and perused the crowd. To our left another doorway led to some toilets – guarded by a bear-sized security man smoking a joint the size of a babies arm. Next to him was a 3m industrial fan pointed towards the bars patrons. This seemed to be the designated weed-smoking area as there must’ve been half a dozen chicks puffing away letting the fan blades spread their exhaled smoke all through the bar.
After a few rounds of $8 beer we dragged our red-eyed asses outside and waited for our Über to pull up. Across the street there were three police cars with cops standing around. The smell of ganja was everywhere, they obviously knew that it was like a Bob Marley concert up in there, but obviously could not give a single fuck. I got into our Prius wide-eyed wondering how this sort of thing was happening in Miami, the land of narcotics squads, gangsters and super cool CSI dudes in sunglasses. Surprised? Yes. Will I be back? Yes.