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Sonny's Stardust Lounge

A yellowed newspaper article set in a hazy frame hangs in the back of Sonny's Stardust Lounge, proudly proclaiming that the aged honky tonk bar is the last bastion of Old Fort Lauderdale. It's dated September 1988. Last time I checked, Fort Lauderdale was still here and still kicking — but then again, so is Sonny's. Like the old article suggests, Sonny's conjures up an era long forgotten — a time when country singers traveled uncharted stretches of America, a beat-up six-string their only friend. A fellow like that might have sauntered through the dim, wood-paneled room, hopped up on a red leather stool at the bar, and ordered shots from dusty bottles of Old Granddad and Lord Calvert. These days, young rockers just ask a silver-haired Sonny (who tends bar when he's not singing country songs) for a bottle of water to go with the hardcore punk and hip-hop bands that play there weekly. Sonny just quietly watches as kids moshing to Belgian band Rise and Fall careen off the iron frame circling the dance floor, but he does shuffle out from behind the bar to politely ask them not to sit on his tables. When the show wraps up, the lead singer asks if anyone in the crowd can offer the group a place to stay — they've got a van and no cash and are just loving traveling the American South. Even if the bands aren't playing lonesome country tunes, they're still road-travelin' musicians after all — and that's a tradition that's still alive and well at Sonny's.
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John Linn

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