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You can take the name of Sweat Records, Miami's against-all-odds bastion of independent culture, in different ways. You might sweat that Beat Happening/Screaming Trees split 12-inch the place just got in stock; you might sweat on the car ride over to get it. But it was never co-proprietor Lauren "Lolo" Reskin's intention for you to actually, well, sweat inside while shopping.
And thus, when the air-conditioning unit of the mint-green Little Haiti store finally went bust earlier this summer, so did nearly all of Sweat's activity. "It got to the point where we realized we needed to replace the whole thing instead of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic," says Reskin. She and co-owner Jason Jimenez cut the store's hours to just 5 to 10 p.m. six days a week in the face of this summer's relentless heat and tried to retool.
The bigger problem, though, is that Sweat isn't just a record store. It's an all-out community hub for a metropolitan area oppressed by chain stores and before the summer was hosting events almost nightly: standup comedy shows, book club meetings, film screenings, in-store performances, even origami classes. Those are all now on hold — except, in a lemonade-out-of-lemons move, a weekly "sweaty yoga" class.
"Judging from the feedback we've gotten, the people love and miss them," Reskin of the events, "and we feel that our space where events are fun and free or cheap is needed more than ever in the current economic climate." Just buying a new air conditioner hasn't been an option — the store is still bouncing back financially from a major break-in it suffered last year that destroyed many of its fixtures, business machinery, stock, and even its fish tank.
To get back on track, a benefit show was an obvious choice, but beyond roping in the usual suspects, Reskin and Jimenez decided to aim high and try for the support of Miami's resident rock royalty: Iggy Pop. His iconic mug already looms large on NE Second Avenue on Sweat's exterior "Wall of Idolatry" mural by local artist CP1, and CNN taped him in front of it last winter for a segment on his favorite Little Haiti haunts. So Reskin reached out, asking for his help.
"He just called me and said he'd like to meet and talk at the shop," Reskin says. "He breezed in — shirtless, of course — and though I rarely get starstruck, it was definitely a tad surreal at first. He thought it was great that we stocked all his music and said I was lucky to have grown up in South Florida."
So Iggy decided to lend his mug to the store again, but this time in an authorized version to raise some cash. Thus was born the limited-edition Sweat X Iggy T-shirt, featuring CP1's version of his face, with further design by Chuck Loose, and printed by Iron Forge Press. Proceeds from the sale will go toward getting the store a new AC, as well as replacements for its old creaky doors to keep that conditioned air inside. So will the door take from a party to celebrate the shirt's release on Saturday, which will feature sounds by Miami's two best current rock 'n' roll hopes: Awesome New Republic and Jacuzzi Boys. Iggy won't actually perform, but he'll attend as a guest of honor — and no doubt will steal the show.