Miami’s Punk Havens, Both New and Old, Fight to Survive

Miami’s Punk Havens, Both New and Old, Fight to Survive

To those outside the Miami-Dade county, it doesn’t seem like a place that has a bustling punk scene. One of the only references to Miami in punk songs is from Against Me!’s “Miami.” The song isn’t very favorable to the tourist hotspot with lyrics like “The town is trite and exaggerated, the food is turning, and the water is poisoned.” Maybe it’s because they call Gainesville, Florida–a North Florida city–their home and there’s some natural rivalry going on. However, Miami isn’t all Pitbull, Heat basketball, and bottle service–there’s a historic punk scene here that’s determined to overcome hardship.

One of the area’s legendary spots, Churchill’s Pub in Little Haiti, has been around 1979. They hosted the likes of Iggy Pop, Social Distortion, New Found Glory, Toxic Holocaust, and plenty of others. Similar to other music venues and bars during the pandemic, Churchill’s was at the risk of eviction. However, it did not have to do with the pub itself.  

In August 2020, punk regulars were astonished when a notice was posted on Churchill’s door, demanding $92,838.03 in overdue rent. It turns out that the older operations tenant, Franklin Dale, and the landlord, Mallory Kauderer, were in a dispute about who owns the pub and the trademark. It turns out that Dale defaulted the lease, owed rent, losing insurance, among other things; it led Kauderer to evict Dale and his business so Churchill’s can remain open. 

It was a messy situation that was better kept under wraps but was eventually resolved. Churchill’s Pub had to work diligently to repay the debts that Dale left unattended for over a year, reacquire their liquor license, and fight Dale’s appeal. Still, the pub lives on and will be approaching its 43rd year of rocking.

Amidst complications, some businesses find a way to stay open. Others were not so lucky but punk rock always finds a way. This was the case with The Boombox, an underground punk scene that somewhat operates in secret. Their Instagram is active but their business is listed as closed on Yelp. It was started by Laszlo Kristaly, Miguel Cala, and Kristaly’s cousin, Ricardo “Mango” Cano when some of them were attending high school. 

In 2019, they secured a spot they poured a lot of hard work into. The walls were all decked out in graffiti and they threw events where other genres were also welcome. It was ill-timed for the trio, as the pandemic forced them to close down and adapt. They got a special event permit for every event and give out the secret location when partygoers buy a ticket. In order to fully operate on a regular basis, the owners are working towards acquiring a nightclub license.

From what started as a house party for suburban high-schoolers to a covert punk operation, the owners of The Boombox are finding a way to keep the scene going. 

“The Boombox is a place where stars are born. A lot of people who started performing with us are now playing Space on a regular basis. It’s cool — they reached the other side.”

Churchill’s Pub and The Boombox represent two wildly different generations of punk. One that has succeeded and endured and one that is paving its own path by any means necessary. It’s a testament to their determination and building a sense of community. It reflects the genre in a way: to keep on going, regardless of the circumstances.

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