South Beach is Cool (I Promise)

August 1, 2017Raquel Sofia

I moved from Puerto Rico to Miami twelve years ago- a small town girl with big dreams and a desire for adventure. Over the years, I’ve lived in many parts of this wonderful city that I now call home, but only one place has stuck, only one place has felt like the perfect fit. South Beach keeps me coming back no matter where I go. In 2009 I graduated from UM and immediately packed up my dorm and moved into my first studio apartment on Pennsylvania and fourteenth. Since then, I haven’t been able to shake the feeling that South Beach is the only place for me.

Unfortunately, very few people share my undying love for South Beach. I see the way you all grimace when I tell you where I live. Some of you even go as far as to ask “Why?” in your most condescending, snooty voices. I get it- you’re all super cool and hating South Beach is the fashionable thing to do right now. It’s right up there with hating U2 and hating Lebron and I kind of see why. Most people’s image of the beach is limited to loud clubs with mile-long lines to get in, DJs playing terrible music, Ed Hardy t-shirts, tacky, glittery dresses barely covering synthetic body parts, neon slushies at Wet Willies and overpriced lobster tails getting forced on you by pushy hostesses. I’m not gonna lie- I see almost all of these things every single day, and they definitely suck, but they seem like a very small price to pay for a life in paradise.

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South Beach has small town heart with big city flair. It feels like a giant neighborhood. I see familiar faces on the street every day- like the old man on my corner that sits shirtless at his window and tosses out Cuban bread for the pigeons or my dreadlocked hair dresser who zooms around on his scooter all day long. It’s the kind of place where a terrible driver like me doesn’t need to endanger all of humanity by getting behind the wheel. I’m the proud owner of a turquoise bike and a strong pair of legs and that’s all I need. Every morning around 7 am, I walk my dogs past the art deco buildings, The Versace Mansion, the boardwalk, South Point Park, Fischer Island and The Marina. Strolling down the streets, headphones in and shirt off (people don’t wear shirts on South Beach), I look around and I can’t believe that this is where I get to live.

Another reason living here rocks? The guys on South Beach are hot as hell. I know this because I go to the Reebok Crossfit Gym, where being surrounded by beautiful, shirtless, ripped men is all the motivation I need to squat a little lower and not put my knees down when I do pushups. Working out on South Beach has inspired me to be in the best shape of my life because people here are no joke when it comes to health and fitness. When I’m not doing burpees, I head over to my favorite yoga studio, Green Monkey, a place that has elevated my practice by letting me play like a kid while kicking my ass one downward dog at a time. I’ve met incredible people between beach WODS, running clubs and free outdoor yoga classes and it seems like on South Beach, theres always a reason to get together with friends and sweat.

So now that I got the gym out of the way, I can get my drink on guilt free. I’m all about no-frills, no high heels partying and lucky for me, South Beach has tons of dive bars with cheap drinks, good music and no need to “know someone” to get in. I’ve had many a wild night at Club Deuce, the oldest bar in Miami and also the darkest, dive-iest place of all times. They have an eleven hour happy hour, complete with strong drinks, a juke box, bartenders that scream at you if you try to open a window and every sketchy, amazing, interesting character you can imagine. Walking into Club Deuce is like falling through the rabbit hole- all of a sudden you’re drinking whiskey with the Mad Hatter and the Queen of Hearts. It is absolutely wonderful.

I also enjoy kicking back a few Tito’s and sodas at Lost Weekend, The Abbey Brewing Company, The Gaythering, Ricky’s, and Ted’s Hideaway. After a long night of drinking, I wake up craving Peruvian food from El Chalan. If you’ve never been there, let me change your life right now. RUN to Washington and 16th and order a chupe de camarones and a Cusqueña. I promise you won’t be disappointed. I also really love walking up to the window at Las Olas Café for some fresh grapefruit juice, a tequeño and an egg and cheese sandwich on Cuban bread (with butter AND mayo- don’t judge me). When I have to be around grown ups, which isn’t often, I hit up Suviche, Books and Books, Pubbelly Sushi, Apple A Day or the Doraku happy hour. Finally, on a night when I feel like I really deserve to celebrate, I pick the Chocolate Delight cake at Icebox Café and a bottle of nine dollar Malbec and finish both off in the privacy of my apartment, sitting on the floor with no pants on, watching “The Office” for the seventeenth time.

It might not be for everyone, but South Beach is definitely for me. I love it all- the noise, the weirdos, the glitter and the grime. It’s the one place where a fancy night at the New World Symphony can turn into a pasties-clad burlesque party by just walking down a few blocks to Kill Your Idol. We have The Fillmore, the PRIDE parade, iconic architecture and tons of beautiful public parks, all with an ocean backdrop. There are lots of really cool up and coming neighborhoods in Miami, but my hood still holds her own. South Beach is the place to be yourself, to own what you got and let your freak flag fly. South Beach never goes out of style and if you don’t know that by now, you’re not as cool as you thought you were.