Locals to Know: Lolo Reskin talks Sweat Records’ Sweet 16 and more

By the time you read this, Sweat Records will have turned 16. 🎂🎉🎂

But instead of making off with its newly minted driver’s license and hitting the road ala Sonic Youth’s Goo, the Miami record store and cultural hub is staying right where it is. Better than that, it’s digging its heels into the 305’s foundation.

Sweat owner and co-founder Lolo Reskin spoke with The New Tropic about the origin of the store’s name, what the next 16 years hold, and how Miamians can join the birthday fun.

The New Tropic: What neighborhood do you live in?

Lolo Reskin: Bayside.

Tell us about your work and personal history with Miami — your day job, side-hustles, and any volunteer work all count!

Born, raised, and stayed in Dade. I co-founded Sweat in 2005, and beyond running the shop and our events I’ve also been a DJ and promoter, PBS host, background music programmer, Miami Fellow, Radical Parter, label head, and Recording Academy board member and mentor.

More specifically, what are the origins of Sweat Records? I remember you once saying the name came from a lot of what was going on at the time — care to elaborate on that?

We wanted a strange name and Sweat had several meanings for us — Miami is sweaty, my co-founder and I did a lot of yoga together, and if you’re really into some new music, you’re “sweating” it. We also put in a ton of literal and metaphorical sweat to make the shop happen, so it still fits.

What changes have you witnessed in Miami — whether with regards to its music scene or Sweat Records itself — over the course of living and working here?

Much like the music industry, Miami changes constantly. Since opening, we’ve seen the audience for vinyl and live music grow exponentially, and the same goes for an incredible wider community of people, organizations, and social enterprises dedicated to changing Miami for the better and making things more inclusive. It’s an honor to be a part of it.

What challenges have you and the store faced navigating the pandemic, and how have you emerged triumphant?

First, we were incredibly fortunate timing-wise as we spent most of 2019 building an online shop that launched RIGHT before the pandemic began. That helped us stay afloat for the three months we had to close for during quarantine. Since reopening we’ve continued to make improvements and maintain safety protocols, and we raised our staff’s pay to $15/hr last November. We’re coming into this birthday strong and are grateful to our crew and customers for everything.

Sweat is currently going all out for its Sweet 16 celebrations, including gathering up “Sweaty Memories” — can you tell readers a bit about that and how they can contribute to the celebration?

We’re working on a short film and book about Sweat’s history and the people around it. A lot of times we were too busy running and stage managing (and enjoying) our shows to stop and document… But we know lots of folks had cameras and phones out and we’d love to see what was captured! Submissions will be credited and rewarded and people can share their stories/pics/video here: https://bit.ly/sweatymemories

What’s your own favorite Sweat Records memory?

There are truly thousands. Meeting some of my favorite people and future loves, transcendent sonic experiences at Classic Album Sundays at Soundlux, interviewing Iggy Pop live on stage, going on the “Today” show in front of a faux Sweat storefront in NYC, every time a rad kid comes in and buys a record twice as old as they are…

If you could have a billboard in the middle of Downtown, what would you say on it?

(To paraphrase AOC…) Carry a reusable water bottle, listen to records, and don’t be racist.

What Miami institution do people need to be paying more attention to?

I will never stop giving it up for Books & Books. Through their locations, programming, and the Book Fair, they’ve completely transformed Miami’s cultural and intellectual landscape.

How do you think Sweat has managed to set itself apart in Miami’s cultural terrain?

We’ve created a space that is a) all-ages friendly, and b) day-and-night different from the stereotypical impression of Miami. We watch people breathe literal sighs of relief as they enter and realize that Miami has a lot more going on than they thought.

What do the next 16 years hold for Sweat?

Our eventual goal is to have a permanent space with an attached venue around other like-minded entities… It’ll be a minute, but we’re starting to plant seeds and form partnerships. If anyone reading wants to get involved, hit us up!

 You can work up a sweat yourself by visiting the store’s physical or online shop, following Lolo or Sweat on Instagram, and visiting its Linktree to get in on the birthday celebrations.