Let me know when the funeral is being held, because Fort Lauderdale's music and party scene is just about dead. Local audiophiles might as well start dressing in all-black to observe the mourning. Although the Riverfront area in Fort Lauderdale was once a vibrant place that, at its best, looked like a mini-Mardi Gras, attendance at local bars these days is down across the board. As a result, many of Broward's best weekly dance parties are struggling. Heat_r, the once-popular Friday-night shindig, is soon to be no more. Due to declining business at Crazy 8's in the Riverfront, the folks behind Heat_r are going to be searching for a new venue after this week — and possibly out of commission, unless something changes. And if you were getting used to the "return" of Crush over at Umi Lounge on Thursdays the past couple of months, that party is hanging on by a thread. Back when affable promoter Isaac Alexander was throwing Crush several years ago, it bounced around from place to place but still managed to stay successful. He's no longer involved with it — and its new lead promoter, Alex Vidal, is doing a good job of picking up where Isaac left off. But last week, Vidal learned that Umi Lounge was closing and that his weekly party would have to move once again.
"I was told I wouldn't have a place to throw my party 24 hours before it was supposed to take place," Vidal says. At the last minute, Vidal was able to secure Sugar Lounge for the night.
Such occurrences make it hard for local patrons to fully support weekly events. Just as soon as you get used to a new night at a new venue, something changes or gets canceled, and you're back to square one. Of course, now that Umi Lounge is closed, Transition, the popular Saturday-night dance party held at the same venue, is kaput as well. I spoke with its promoter, Carlos G., last week, and he was alarmed by the dearth of bodies going out to party these days. He doesn't think it's strictly a Fort Lauderdale thing.
"It's all of South Florida," he said. "Everything is drying up. I think it's a generation gap. The older crowd that used to go out to all the underground parties, they all grew up and moved away. And the new generation that likes this kind of indie electro music is too young to go out. There's plenty of people who go out to shows or concerts, but they're not old enough to drink or get into clubs."
If that's true, local promoters are in a difficult position. Throw in the price of gas — people's inability to drive distances — and things are really bad. Probably only getting worse. The New City Limits in Delray Beach is closed for the summer, so you can scratch that venue until tourist season rolls around again, and the popular Blues venue the Bamboo Room is closed indefinitely.
Depressed yet? Don't be. Here's the good news. There are a few brights spots out there. If you're still looking for cool venues to have a good time at, here are a few recommendations:
Spank Sundays at Porterhouse Grill (201 SW Second St., Fort Lauderdale) — DJ Ed Whitty gets frisky (playing house) on the decks, and best of all, it's free.
Mello Mondays at Bluster (115 N. 21st Ave., Hollywood) — A weekly urban chill spot with poetry, hip-hop, and DJ Make It Do What It Do spinning the best in hip-hop, soul, and R&B all night. Cover charge is $10 for guys, but there's usually three to four artists on the bill to make it worth your while.
MAFIA Tuesdays at Boston's on the Beach (40 S. Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach): Features Shannon Lawson (of Muzik Mafia fame), Amber Leigh, Mike Mineo, and Nashville Star standout Shy Blakeman. This weekly event doesn't have a cover charge, and Boston's is about as laid back as it gets.
Open Jazz Jam Wednesdays at Alligator Alley (1321 E. Commercial Blvd., Oakland Park) — Colin James (of Way of the Groove fame) hosts — and hoists the sax — along with Kilmo (bass) and Shay Eischin (drums). Anytime you can catch club owner Kilmo onstage playing, it's a good time. Despite Kilmo's occasional threats, this weekly event isn't going anywhere.
Thursday's Crush at Sugar Lounge (3471 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale) — So Crush is still alive — it's the party that just won't die — and now it's at Sugar Lounge. The venue is a bit smaller than what they're used to, but the design is nice, the vibe is relaxed, and the music is always good. Also, Flaunt at Respectable Street (518 Clematis St., West Palm Beach). It's easily the best weekly event in Palm Beach.
VooDoo Fridays at VooDoo Lounge (111 SW Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale) — DJ Dave Dimitri spins solid house beats in the main room while all-star reggae/hip-hop selector DJ GQ keeps things sexy over at Rodman's Rehab next door.
Mike Miro Saturdays at Soba Lounge (415 Plaza Real, Boca Raton) — DJ Mike Miro spins the latest in house and progressive. As far as partying in Boca Raton goes, it's the best place to be.