The Monterey Club
Krista F Leger

To call Monterey Club the Best New Venue sounds asinine, right? The place is hardly new to Fort Lauderdale. But since it closed at the turn of 2012 and the lounge space adjacent to Kreepy Tiki Tattoos morphed into 5 Points Lounge and then that closed, Monterey, like Christ, has risen again. Now, it's bringing a bit of the divine to Federal Highway right by the airport. Rob Stannard reopened the live venue this year and has been booking the shit out of it with endless rockabilly, roots, metal, and punk shows, with both local and national acts. Stannard says he's made his mistakes and now he's ready to start anew again with business owner Jackson Valiente, and things are looking fine. It feels so good to have such great live music back in the 954 — and on almost a daily basis. Praise the almighty King... Elvis, that is.

The news that Miami's famed Pawn Shop club was reopening on Clematis Street got the blood of jealous 305 folk boiling but planted pleasant party smiles on the faces of folks in West Palm Beach. Trying to re-create a club that was actually in a pawn shop with an indoor school bus, an Airstream trailer, actual airplane seats, and the occasional half-pipe in the back seemed impossible. But the folks behind the new incarnation of the place managed to succeed at creating something new yet true to the old: a dance club with tons of character, an amusement park for big people, a floor that's begging to be hopped around on. The DJ booth is now set up in a Mack truck, a vintage Ferris wheel sits above one of the bars, there are pool tables, and yes, there's still a school bus. Less gritty than the old spot at the edge of Overtown, Pawn Shop now is a place where pretty people can get their butts moving in true style.

Pools halls are usually found in out-of-the-way locales. That corner slot in the strip mall? Billiards hall. Back room of that Mexican place? Pool hall. Space above tarot card parlor? A cue shooter's paradise. But breaking the trend, it's impossible to miss Mis-cue. The building in Oakland Park shouts out from the street in loud, golf-course green-and-white checked paint, with retro orange lettering spelling out the establishment's raison d'être: LOUNGE, BILLIARDS. Inside, it's all business: about a dozen pool tables pocketed inside the gloom under low ceilings. A well-scarred bar area upfront anchors the room, and this is a table top that's seen a lot of greasy elbows, spilled beers, and grease dripping off the chicken wings served from a nearby crock pot. A core corps of regulars makes up most of the Mis-cue's business, mostly pot-bellied old-timers with a serious jones for cue sports and a younger, tougher, and tattooed contingent. It can be intimidating for an outsider just strolling in for a game. But fear not.

No matter how many times you see The Big Lebowski, the classic comedy always leaves you with two urges. One of those desires you will have to travel to Washington, Colorado, or Amsterdam to fulfill, but in order to bowl, you need look no further than Davie. Sparez has a plethora of lanes to help your inner Lebowski abide. It's open from 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and doesn't close until 3 Friday and Saturday night. The longer hours on weekends are necessary, but weekdays usually provide no wait coupled with a discounted rate — an hour of bowling drops from $24 on weekends to $17.50. Leagues and specials are constantly rotating, so it helps to check the website for the best deals. Weekend late nights feature special-effects lighting and a live DJ from 99 Jamz who will never, ever play the Eagles.

Broward County Convention Center

The lights are bright at the Broward County Convention Center, and the sexual tension is high. Just about anything goes, at least for the three days the Exxxotica Expo hits town. The atmosphere is surprisingly chill and not at all creepy, even though the event features some of the biggest stars in the adult film industry and a lot of giant dildos. Chances are good that you'll meet men here. Single men. Men who are down for whatever, and in this case, whatever equals a good time. Maybe you like a little leather with your loving or perhaps feathers with your fucking? This is a unique partnering experience — a place where you can find out what the dude is into before the first date. An easy way to filter out the duds. Everything's on the table at Exxxotica, and that's why it's the best, and funniest, place to meet single men each year.

Armory Art Center

Finding a compatible, cool partner is about as hard as finding something DIY you'd actually want to buy. At Art Rock, though, the annual DIY indie marketplace in West Palm Beach, you may have less trouble finding either of those two things than you'd ever imagined. Art Rock will be packed with ladies — ladies who can make things, ladies who bake delicious cupcakes (even vegan ones for you non-egg-eaters out there) and gourmet jerky — yeah, jerky. Ladies who have tattoos and purple hair but wear aprons because they don't want to mess up their vintage '50s dresses. The affair is hosted by the folks who do Stitch Rock in Delray. It takes place at the Armory Art Center with 60 booths, swag bags, free parking, and crafty art. With all that, your chances of leaving with tons of numbers and looking like a sensitive gentleman are pretty rocking. Note: This event takes place in the springtime — mating season.

Had a rough day? Commute depressing you? The printer jamming up again? There is not a better way to remove yourself from your daily dose of bullshit than transporting yourself to an alternative universe — any event hosted by Misty Eyez. The 11-year veteran drag queen reigns supreme over a kingdom of unworthy disciples and changes lives. Her YouTube channel is off-the-chains, with tutorials and behind-the-scenes secrets that can serve as your drag queen training school (we have it on good authority that her vid on creating cleavage for skinny bitches works wonders). Her blend of humor, glamour, and general over-the-topness comes with a message of empowerment: "Let your hair down and have a good time!" says Misty. Our lives are full of serious events, but you need to have some fun. Fun is in spades at her shows, which are all over, including on the goddamned ocean with the latest Drag Stars at Sea cruise. Whether it's spreading the drag gospel with the help of the internet or hosting Bitchy Bingo at Lips in Fort Lauderdale, Misty always does it like she means it. Catch her now, lest our butterfly head for bigger and better things. She is in the process of auditioning for RuPaul's Drag Race. There is no doubt our girl will make it, but we have our freshly manicured fingers crossed just in case.

E.R. Bradley's Saloon
Christina Mendenhall

Drink specials, a packed house, and an ear full of reggae music... Sounds like someone has a case of the Mondays! There are few times that the party is 100 percent guaranteed, which is what makes E.R. Bradley's weekly reggae throwdown so danged important to our collective well-being. Gracing the stage each and every Monday night, local reggae favorites Spred the Dub have good times oozing from their pores while shaking out their own tasty jams and groovy covers. The six members don't just keep all the fun for themselves; they bring in opening bands more times than not, giving two-for-one a new meaning. Spred the Dub has been picking up speed, touring the country, and playing SunFest in 2014, but it's Bradley's where the real magic happens. Over the years, the band has moved its official Monday Night Reggae party around Clematis Street, but it has never felt more at home than at Bradley's, and it shows. Drink specials, cheap late-night food that is actually good, and never a cover.

Coral Sky Amphitheatre

From shore to shore, the inaugural Coastline Festival made its way from Tampa to West Palm Beach's Cruzan Amphitheatre, bringing with it enough electro pop to please absolutely everyone born from 1987 to 1995. The lineup included WPB natives Surfer Blood, who — with lead singer John Paul Pitts half in the crowd — performed the Lebowski-loathed Eagles' tune "Take It Easy" for a screeching crowd of superfans. Other acts included Passion Pit and Matt and Kim, both of whom played their final shows of 2013 at Coastline, adding the liveliest music to this "musiculinary experience." There was a serious variety of both food trucks and craft beers. Brews were from the coolest spots around, like Due South Brewing, Funky Buddha, Dogfish Head, and Magic Hat. This added an air of indie to a venue that usually boasts ketchup on hot dogs as the finest feast available. You could snag a Radio-Active Records pin for your lapel or tote from an old-fashioned, coin-operated toy machine, don flowers in your hair, or get someone to cut your shirt into a unique design onsite. Colorful tattoos were displayed proudly too. It was a perfect combo of new and cool. All there was left for you to do was hold your iPhone high, wave it side to side, and sing "To Kingdom Come."

You're driving down to South Beach for the night to catch Steve Aoki smash cake in someone's face and press mad buttons, when you press play yourself, but on your iPod. West Palm Beach native Will Brennan's Prodigal Son release comes up first. And lo and behold, Brennan's also heading south on 95 in the early verses of the opening track, "RNR." The whole album has both mainstream radio appeal and a delightful enough edge to keep it interesting and memorable. Brennan is one of the few hip-hop artists signed to Aoki's Dim Mak Records. Since this free full-length, Brennan's continued to create songs influenced by South Florida — with themes like humping in the ocean and hating his job. With or without a substantial label behind him, we think Brennan's got enough flavor and skill to break the sunny glass Florida ceiling.

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