Best Dive 2004 | Curly Sue's Hideout | Nightlife | South Florida
Like we'd imagine heaven's very own dive bar to be, Curly Sue's Hideout is directly across the street from a McDonald's. Why it's located only feet from a middle school, well, we don't know. Here's what we do know from a recent reconnaissance mission to the Hideout: Ol' Curly Sue herself sees us dawdling outside and says, "What's the matter, you fuckin' scared to come in?" Her tattered T-shirt reads "Fuck You, You Fuckin' Fuck." That's a friendly enough invite in this part of town, so we grab a well-worn stool in the dark, narrow room. You will not be using your debit card here, Mr. Yuppie, so bring cash. Or a roll of quarters. And it's beer and wine only, but you'll look like a complete doofus if you don't choose a ($2.25) Bud longneck. Handwritten signs everywhere insist "No Tabs," but they're followed by more hastily scrawled lists of patrons who either have tabs running or have skipped 'em. Whatever you do, don't miss the tear-inducing memorial to a dead biker named Scumbag. As a romantic backdrop for that special occasion, the barbed-wire back patio faces a water-treatment plant's massive tank. Hey, kid, run across the street and fetch me a Quarter Pounder, will ya? Readers' Choice: Le Tub
It's early afternoon on a Saturday, and there aren't any posers here. These bikers are the real deal, the long goatees, the black vests, the black halter tops. Twenty-odd men and women with faces as lined as floodplains. The hogs are out back, not far from the barbeque grill made from 50-gallon drums. This two-wheel haunt's in a backwash of a neighborhood, an aging industrial ghetto just west of I-95. Near the door stands an enlarged photo of a long-haired blond, model-pretty, dressed in black leathers, smiling like an open road. Kimber is her name. Was her name. She died not long ago astride her machine, up in Pensacola. Beside her picture is a flier: a memorial service at a nearby chapel later this afternoon for the 39-year-old. Party at Mickey's afterward. These are real bikers. How'd it happen? a bartender asks a brooding man at the end of the horseshoe bar. She made a mistake, he says, thought a four-way was a two-way, went down the wrong way. Hit a car head-on. "She probably never knew what hit her," the bartender offers. She turns to walk away, then stops and calls back, "I hope so, anyway."

This small, hidden gem off East Sunrise Boulevard sits in the shadow of the newly erected mammoth condos on Seminole Drive. The narrow, dimly lit bar packs in an assortment of interesting characters on a nightly basis. Imagine being at a family reunion, but a really surreal one; the soundtrack is Foghat's greatest hits, and everyone in attendance -- crazy Uncle Charlie with the wooden leg, your grandma, and your keg-tapping cousins home from college -- all put aside their differences for the love of the drink.

Ex-pats can be the most refreshing people to come across in South Florida's suburbs, reminding us, with the very tones of their saucy accents, that there is a world beyond marathon satellite television consumption in our 60-mile spread of four-bedroom cement blocks. There is no more intimate environment west of I-95 to mesh with the Brits than this master bedroom-sized pub and eatery. The menu of pub fare, which notes, "We pride ourselves on bland food, warm beer, and bad service," declares the take-us-as-we-come charm that makes unwinding at the King's Head a reality check in a culture run amok. Stuff your gut with some fish and chips ($8.95) or chicken curry with spices on a bed of white rice ($9.50). Down a pint of Fullers ESB, throw some darts, or just sit on the plastic chairs outside, puff a fag, and watch the crazy Yanks roll past in those cars that they can't afford. Readers' Choice: Bru's Room

Gary Santis' antiquity-themed, multilevel brainchild, the Coliseum, consistently draws world-class DJs and performers to entertain music-savvy clubgoers. Unlike most local dance clubs who don't give a shit about anything but selling drinks, Coliseum has spent the past three years setting a new standard for nightlife sophistication in the area. Jet-setting DJs like Victor Calderone and Manny Lehman don't just pop in to Fort Lauderdale without serious wooing. The club is hugely popular because it's a venue with theme-threaded, moody beats and hot crowds worth talking about. Coli is a needle aimed right at the local straight clubs that are still untz-untzing in their bubble of recycled pop-culture hangover barf. When is it going to pop? Cover ranges from $10 to $20 depending upon who's spinning and the time of your arrival. Readers' Choice: Voodoo Lounge
Robbie is like a dad. He has a round, friendly face, a warm, infectious laugh, and a firm handshake. He also loves Tom Jones and pours the most perfect glass of Stella. So, he's really like a dad who gets up on the bar to dance to Tom Jones and likes gettin' sauced with his kids. A decidedly younger crowd has infiltrated this British pub in the last year, namely the rock 'n' roll DJ collective known as Blowtorch, which turned the Fox into a monthly house party of sorts. But Robbie, who is a Brit himself, is still on a first-name basis with most of his regulars, and when 1:58 a.m. rolls around, Robbie will let you order one more pint, just 'cause. But if you try to get in your car with it, Robbie might just give you a shoeing, soccer hooligan-style. And you'll like it.

By any other name -- say Coral Sky, MARS, the Snuggles Fabric Softener Bear Arena -- this gigantic outdoor shed now called the Sound Advice Amphitheatre would still sound as sweet. However, unlike the big, open-air venues on the nation's northern tier, ours is available year-round. Music seems to sound better out-of-doors, and Sound Advice provides plenty of room to mill about, plus massive video screens so concertgoers won't miss anything. Among the acts that played there last year: Peter Gabriel, Radiohead, and Pearl Jam. Who can beat that? Sure, the slightly sterile mall-like environment isn't exactly the most rock 'n' roll aspect of this experience, but Sound Advice is our shed, and we can go see a show there in the middle of December, so nyah-nyah-nyah. Readers' Choice: Office Depot Center

What makes a good local show? Is it the bands? The crowd? Or how about the bartenders? Or the beer? While those are all necessary ingredients, a good local show is more than just the sum of its parts. There has to be that special vibe -- that shared feeling between the band and the audience, when both are consumed by the music and to hell with everything else. It's the camaraderie upon which all healthily functioning scenes are built. Central to this principle is the right venue, and the Red Lion British Pub is the perfect home for local artists, such as Timb or the Freakin' Hott, as well as for out-of-town bands, like the Stud Dogs (Orlando) or the Beatings (Boston), who need a guarantee that they won't run out of gas on the way back home. (Unlike other clubs, the entertainment gets an upfront fee, whether they pack 'em in or not). Though the Red Lion's lack of a stage would send some of the more whiny, ego-challenged bands into conniption fits, it actually serves to enhance the show, bridging the gap between performer and audience. And being a British pub, the Red Lion has plenty of choice imported beer to go with its fresh-cooked chicken pie. Shows start around 9:30 p.m. and are free for 21 and over, $5 for under 21. Readers' Choice: Culture Room
The self-described "owner/manager/resident bass player/bottle washer/toilet cleaner/you-name-it" of Alligator Alley keeps his doors open not because he makes any money but because he is an otherworldly creature from Planet Rock Star, sent here to deliver us some serious tuneage and keep the scene alive. The walking, talking music encyclopedia purposely keeps his club free of televisions, darts, and pool tables so you focus on the badass sound system. With Kilmo here to nurture them, great, mysterious, awe-inspiring sounds come from these parts. Listen up.

Until recently, seeing the name of a DJ on a club flier invariably meant you were in for a night of house, hip-hop, trip-hop, techno, or pretty much any non-rock-related dance music. The past few years, however, have seen a resurgence in guitar-driven music at local nightclubs. Though just a year old, Popscene, spun out by DJs Mana (Jon Wilkins) and Sloan (Steve Copeletti), quickly earned a place in the local indie scene, garnering attention from an enthusiastic crowd of regulars, as well as the scores of bands -- both national and local -- that perform most nights. Popscene spins only indie rock, pop, and soul, mixing the old (Big Star, the Who) with the new (Sloan, Jason Falkner, Wilco). And as Wilkins himself notes, "It's one of the only nights you'll hear Sondre Lerche, Sufjan Stevens, the Radio Dept., Stevie Wonder, and Pavement in a single hour." Popscene takes place at 10 p.m. every Saturday at Dada (52 N. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach), though the venue might eventually change to accommodate larger national acts. Readers' Choice: DJ Bobby Buzz at the Porterhouse Bar & Grill

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