Left Out of the South Beach Nightlife

An evening attempting to hit the clubs in Miami proves conclusively that I’m not part of the South Beach party scene

The velvet rope should have been the warning sign for me to turn and run the other way. I am not a velvet rope kind of person. I’m a dive bar kind of person. I generally don’t even go anywhere there’s a cover charge.

But I’m in South Beach, Miami, one of the clubbing and partying capitals of the U.S., so I feel obligated to give it a shot. Many South Beach hotels offer packages that include discounts and special privileges at the nearby clubs, because that’s what a lot of people come here for: the South Beach nightlife.

south beach sign

My experience with South Beach clubs

So here we are, waiting in line with all the young pretty people, whose outfits probably cost more than my last car.

The first club we walk past is way too upscale and even has a sign outside detailing its dress code. I should mention that I’m wearing a tshirt and skinny jeans – I don’t do dress codes, either. Since there’s no way we’re getting in this one, we don’t bother stopping.

Another nearby club has a line around the block. Did I mention that I don’t do lines? A woman is checking names off a guest list. You can probably guess that I don’t do guest lists. We keep walking.

Eventually, we reach option #3 on our list and go inside. This place has no cover charge, but it also has no patrons. Either we’re way early, or this place is deader than Don Knotts. After a couple of overpriced drinks, it’s time to move on.

south beach clubs

A lot of South Beach nightlife involves waiting in line outside clubs.

Finally, we locate a reasonable club with a modest cover charge. There’s a velvet rope, but the line is short, and some people in line are even wearing shorts.

Inside, the place is crowded but not annoyingly so. I wanna pop bottles at the club, because that’s what you’re supposed to do in Miami, but that’s way beyond this traveler’s budget. A few glasses of cheap beer have to suffice. Drinks and dancing go way into the evening, and I get my fill of South Beach nightlife.

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Visiting the South Beach dive bar was more fun

The evening was fun, but I actually enjoyed myself more the previous night, when I ended up at perhaps the only true dive bar in South Beach – a dark place called Kill Your Idol. They have a chandelier made of empty liquor bottles, a Bruce Lee statue above the bar, and Beavis & Butthead playing on a video projector on the wall.

Not to mention a cool, alternative crowd. This is where I feel at home! You can have the clubs – I’ll stick to South Beach dive bars like Kill Your Idol instead.

South Beach nightlife links

For those who are truly interested in the clubs, bars, and dance parties in Miami, check out these resources for finding South Beach nightlife activities. And remember, because drinks are so expensive at these bars, pre-game at home with a couple cheap drinks before you go out. Many clubs don’t get busy until midnight, so you have plenty of time to sneak in a few shots first!

South Beach Events: Miami’s Party Guide

Miami New Times: Event calendar curated by the city’s alt weekly newspaper

Visit South Beach: List of Miami clubs

Wikitravel: Guide to South Beach, including listing of top nightlife spots

About Quirky Travel Guy

Scott Shetler is a Seattle-based freelance writer & fan of indie rock, road trips, ice cream, squirrels on power lines, runaway shopping carts, and six-way intersections. Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, which may earn me a commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase.

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  1. Scott, I am a frequent club-goer and even I feel irriated by the level of pretentiousness that oozes off of some of those people. It really sucks that things have come to such a superficial level (ie-insane dress codes, etc) and they can end up discouraging people who may otherwise have had a great time.

  2. I feel I have to step in on this one. I live in South Beach. And I agree about the whole club scene, it’s pretty much a bunch of BS, especially the ones on Washington which are targeted at tourists.

    There are a hefty amount of dive bars in South Beach (great blog post idea now that I think about it) which include Deweys, Ted’s Hideaway, Free Spirit, Lost Weekend (connected to Kill your Idol) and Liquor Lounge.

    1. We looked online for other dive bars and couldn’t find much. So you’re right – that would be a great blog post idea since there’s an internet void on that topic!

      We did find some recommendations on Yelp, but I didn’t trust them because they included sports bars, which, by definition, cannot be considered dive bars, at least the way I define the term. I’ll have to check out those other places the next time I make it back there.

  3. FUN- I’ll be visiting the South Florida area next weekend! Excited about my non-stop red eye from LA… much better than coming back!

  4. We felt the same way in South Beach, and we usually like clubs (as opposed to dive bars)! Sobe was just so…. obnoxiously trendy and expensive. As you say, too many pretty people and not enough alternative-ness. 🙂

  5. yeah, those clubs at sobe drive me nuts….unless someone else is buying, then I love it. actually, i feel that way about any bar that anyone else is picking up the tab for..

  6. Love reading your take on places. When I was in the area, I thought, how do you tell the ladies of the night from the night club crowd – they all look the same to me. Expensive drinks in over priced places have never been my thing. Used to do the Dive Bars and shoot pool. Shooting pool meant I could socialize without talking much to anyone. Glad you found a place you liked.

  7. how come many guys I know don’t do lines =P (while many Asians will line up when they see a random line forming…its true, been tested, and proved by me and my friend)

    Kill Your Idols huh…..I hope Justin Bieber is not planning to go there anytime XDD

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