Better than: Building a raft from discarded fliers and navigating a river of vomit back to your car.
The thought of Cinco de Mayo, the second of three yearly amateur boozing nights, falling on the same Saturday as a supermoon is enough to give pause to any seasoned drinker. This includes one who has experienced firsthand the sloppy horror that is downtown Fort Lauderdale on the 5th of May. Whey-faced with 20-somethings, perhaps trying to make up for that missed St. Patrick's Day party, sauntering with blurred determination from one two-for-one margarita special to next, bathrooms and parking lots awash in a fetid witch's brew of Corona and stomach acid.
Sometimes it's best to lie low in such circumstances or just slide over to a neighborhood joint for the Cinco de Mayo party at Lake Worth's Speakeasy Lounge. It combined the best of both drink and music: five bands, reasonable drink specials, a crowd of Saturday-night regulars, and, of course, a unisex bikini contest.
Eclectic lineups can be hit-or-miss, where fans of one genre may not stay for any of the other bands besides the one they came for. While that was the case on Saturday, the crowd was pretty steady all night with those not feeling the music downing Yuenglings at the bar while Machete played in a constant loop on a pair of flat-screens.
First up was Black Seal, a duo out of Delray whose psychedelic-infused rock flooded the small performance space. A cluster of early arrivals watched under Speakeasy's spectral blue and purple lights, favoring one knee with arms crossed or leaning against a pillar and nodding slightly to the music. There was no mumbling from Black Seal behind a curtain of feedback and reverb; vocals were shouted and at times screamed with zealous clarity over the strained grind of an overdriven guitar.
Lake Worth's the Muggles were up next. Good-natured Speakeasy regulars who openly wear garb borrowed from the looks of '80s and '90s metal acts such as Pantera, Slayer, and Sepultura and create a sound that would have earned them an intensely loyal following at long-forgotten South Florida venues like Davie's Plus 5 Lounge or Pompano's Cell Block. They clearly enjoy what they do.
Save for a few sombreros and EPCOT ponchos, few affected the bandito look that night, though a man named Shorty, a sun-ravaged former jockey who appears to be in his late 50s, arrived wearing the felt taco costume issued to him by a nearby restaurant, sliding through the crowd with a drink in hand and dancing with anyone who would give him the time. When last we saw Shorty, he was wearing a gorilla suit over his taco costume. Shorty is well-liked at Speakeasy.
Lake Worth's Nervous Attachments took the stage at 11, another genre influenced act deeply reminiscent of new wave and '80s alt-rock. They were followed by Radioboxer with vocalist Vanne Dazza emceeing that bikini contest we mentioned earlier that preceded their set. There were a total of five contestants, two women and also a heavily tattooed man in a gold lamé bikini, Mauricio the heavyset doorman with no shirt on, and Shorty in a black and all-too-revealing one-piece. The two rather fetching, clean-cut girls took first and second place, and Shorty took third, thanks in part to support from his own cheering section.
Hialeah's Radioboxer is equally as hard to define as it is joyfully energetic, and Vanne Dazza makes every effort to get the crowd to have as much fun as the band does during its show. The effusively upbeat sound played amid stuttering strobe lights and flood lamps is intertwined with Dazza skipping around in the crowd and dancing with people or bringing them up on stage to play the Güiro. One man, after falling to the floor, found himself being straddled by Dazza as she sang directly into his stunned face. Costumes, kisses, kazoos, bullhorns, melodicas, English, Spanish -- it's impossible to have a bad time at a Radioboxer show.
Lake Worth's Everymen closed out the night, taking the stage just after 2, looking and sounding like a sweaty, shirtless, bearded, long-haired, tattooed reminder that Florida is still the South and if hardcore punk doesn't cut it on guitars alone, then bring in a banjo, a fiddle, a standup bass, and a washboard and see if that doesn't taste like a moonshine-and-Miller boilermaker. Though the band had lost the use of its fiddle by the third song, the audience had by then imbibed enough booze not to mind.
Whatever one's scene is, there's always a place in South Florida that will cater to it on the high drinking days of St. Patrick's and Cinco de Mayo. But given the choice between the already popular bar and the drink specials at some fashion-conscious nightspot, we'd suggest trying the neighborhood place instead.
Overheard Quote of the Night: "I was expecting it to spout flames and come to Earth and signify the coming of Jesus." Man on the sidewalk expressing his disappointment with the Supermoon.
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