Coral Sky Amphitheatre
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.
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.

UPDATE: This location is now closed.

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
Gatsby's
It's not just anywhere that you can walk into the restroom and see an extinguished, five-inch cigar resting in the urinal. What Freud would determine about Gatsby's based on this image is open for speculation... and snickering. At the very least, it's a peek into the restaurant/cigar bar/pool hall's true identity. No matter how many guys with Yonkers accents pull up in Escalades, no matter how tall the chairs in the dining area, no matter how many mammals died to make that couch or how many brands of fine cigar are available for puffing and urinal christening, inside Gatsby's beats the heart of a sports bar. Depending upon which Gatsbys you head for, there are as many as a dozen tables in the main pool room. Eight big-screen TVs and a gaggle of smaller screens orbiting them like moons. Yes, the lush private party rooms look like they belong on the set of Clue (ooooh, red felt on the pool tables). But upon closer inspection, those TVs are Super Bowl gigantic -- and, yo, are those Reader's Digest condensed books on the shelves? You're not fooling anyone, Jack. Ditch that tie, toss back another longneck, and grope a waitress already.

Tipperary Pub
Have you ever craved a brew at 7 in the morning? Haven't we all? It sounds so inviting, especially because you're drunk. If you're not quite ready to go home, you've been kicked out of the last beach bar at 4, and you're hungry, look for the bright, sparkling lights (the sign out front is in giant letters spelling Cocktails, a beacon for the inebriated) of the Tipperary Pub. It closes every night at 2 a.m. but reopens at 7:30 a.m. with a full bar of liquor and beer to wash those eggs down with.

Let's face it: You're not going to meet the girl of your dreams -- the articulate, sweet, rub-your-shoulders-after-a-hard-day woman you'd take home to Mom -- slumped over a bar on Himmarshee, three empty shot glasses in front of her. That chick ain't gonna help your momma with the Thanksgiving dishes, buddy. You need to head a few blocks east, to Joe Picasso's Interactive Studio & Cafe on Las Olas. This happening coffeehouse-cum-pottery studio teems nightly with creative, well-educated, and pretty young women you've been ignoring far too long. Grab a cup of coffee and head to the pottery studio ($7 per hour for singles, $10 per hour for couples) to make yourself a vase, a bowl, even a coffee cup. But here's a tip: Don't make an ashtray. It's predictable, and besides, not many of today's thoughtful, engaging Velmas are smokers.

Strip club rookie mistake number one: You pick the most gorgeous honey in the joint, the woman with the magazine-model face and porn-star curves, and slap down $20 on a lap dance. She straddles you, parting her lips in a smile as fake as her breasts, and provides you with one of those famous let's-get-this-over-with-quick pelvic grinds. Ah, dear reader, it's the curse of the beautiful stripper. You need a girlfriend experience, a topless seductress who could be your next-door neighbor by day. That's the specialty of Jiggles Cabaret in Fort Lauderdale. Sure, the neighborhood off Broward Boulevard is a little rough, and the dancers are a little worn. But with its friendly staff and hands-on (operative modifier) ladies, Jiggles is likely to be much more pleasing than one of those Champagne-and-valet strip joints on Federal Highway. Just hope your car is still in the parking lot when your wallet is empty.

Given name: Carlo Pacilla

Age: 48

Hometown: Hollywood

Claim to fame: Runs Alligator Alley, a homey Oakland Park blues and jazz bar.

What he's done for us lately: Kilmo's no-crapola dedication to warmth and spontaneity attracts the likes of legendary rap progenitor Blowfly, twin-brother funk act Way of the Groove, and hippie funksters the Psycho Daisies. What about the Alley? It's a modest-looking joint in a Commercial Avenue strip mall with Creole tasties like buffalo gator nuggets popping out of the kitchen and Kilmo himself often sitting in with the band on guitar. This is, as Kilmo likes to put it, "the real Florida."

What it takes: "I guess you need a short attention span. I'm a stimulus junkie. If something doesn't stimulate, I'm on to something else. I was never an in-between guy. You either love me or hate me, and, believe me, there are factions on both sides."

UPDATED: This location is now closed.

Solid Gold
On the south side of the main dance stage at Solid Gold, one of the few strip joints with a world-renowned reputation, is a pole that stretches skyward from the middle of a gleaming white piano. On any given night in this gentlemen's club, visitors can see a buxom woman, her breasts exposed and smooth, clean-shaven legs splayed around the pole, as she gently slithers down from high above. Surrounding her is an array of glass tables, where scantily clad cocktail waitresses and male hosts dressed in tuxedos circle ceaselessly to satisfy every customer's needs and whims. Widescreen televisions hoisted 25 feet high display tastefully done stripteases. It's this type of swank meets sleaze that has made Fort Lauderdale's Michael J. Peter a wealthy man. Nearly 30 years ago, Peter changed adult nightlife by transforming many of the state's titty bars into "gentlemen's clubs." Gone were the knuckle-draggers and seedier elements; in were corporate suits and expensive bottles of sparkling wine. A Fort Lauderdale resident, Peter remains a consultant to the popular Federal Highway operation. Although good strip clubs abound in South Florida, Solid Gold created the mold and remains at the top of its game.

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