La Saguasera isn’t exactly seen as a spot where you can find Miami’s up-and-coming arts talent. But 20-something natives Angelina (“Angie”) Rivero and Rudy Flores had a hunch there was a lot right there in their backyard. They just needed a stage to stand on.
So they launched the talent and arts showcase Backroom Sessions MIA in December 2016 with a show in a spare room in Angie’s parents restaurant, The Fish House, on Miller Drive.
Almost two years later, they’re hosting shows at venues all over the county, but they’re still sticking to their mission of elevating locals in truly local spots, “putting the bottom of the map on the map,” Angie says.
Basically, they want to become the “Groundlings” of Miami talent – a place, like the comedy school so many Saturday Night Live stars got their start, that stays low-key even as its alumni take over the world. “They can say one day, ‘I started at Backroom’,” Angie says.
And they’re already on their way. Some of their regular shows, like their hip hop show Explicit, are booked out months in advance. And one of their earliest performers, whose first time on stage was at a Backroom show, has been cast in a Nickelodeon show.
BACKROOM SESSIONS IN 10 WORDS OR LESS: “It is a local visual and performing arts showcase that is cultivated by the community.” (We let them get away with not counting the pronouns.)
WHY IT EXISTS: Most of the spots to perform or catch live performances are in places like Miami Beach, Wynwood, and Downtown, far from the suburbs where most Miamians actually live. So Angie and Rudy started Backroom to bring the opportunities into their backyard, often giving those performers their first shot in front of a live audience.
Today it’s grown to six monthly shows, each with their own niche. But that commitment to backyard vibes remains.
“We’re sticking close to the people in the suburbs. They’re the ones that need it the most,” Angie says.
REPPING COUNTRY WALK: In addition to the monthly shows, Rudy and a few others rent a warehouse space near Tamiami Airport in West Kendall where they offer free workspace for creatives every Tuesday. Everyone from food truck operators working on their menus to filmmakers working on a script have shown up. In the evening, the space transitions to a low-key spot to jam. They call it 152 “to rep the street most of them grew up on,” Angie says. (That’s a reference to SW 152nd Street, down by ZooMiami and Country Walk.)
ART IN UNLIKELY PLACES: Backroom’s got their regular spots, like Lincoln’s Beard Brewing Co. in Westchester and Jezebel on South Beach. But they try to mix up the venues, too. Their last poetry show was at a flower shop called Natural Orchids Boutique. “We want to give them art where they least expect it,” Angie says.
Head to thenewtropic.com to find out some of Angie and Rudy’s favorite local venues and what neighborhoods deserve more of your love. Want to check out the next Backroom Sessions show? Follow them on Instagram to be in the know about upcoming shows.
After checking out Frost Science’s new exhibition, The Power of Poison, we decided to take a closer look at what kind of poison and venom we should be aware of in our backyards.
So we had one very brave and totally-not-terrified-of-snakes-in-any-way producer chat with our friends at the Poison Control Center to find out what type of snakes we should be worried about in South Florida. Spoiler alert: it’s the pygmy rattlesnake. Tiny. Cute. Deadly.
If we’ve piqued your poison interest, be sure the check out the #ToxinTakeoverMiami that is happening at Frost Science for a limited time. Get face-to-face with different poisonous + venomous species from SoFla and around the world.
Showing their hand. Last week we shared the news that the state approved a gambling facility in Edgewater, right on the east side of Biscayne Boulevard, and we predicted that locals probably wouldn’t take that lying down. Welp, this week, local bigwigs like auto titan Norman Braman, developer Jorge Perez, Design District developer Craig Robins, and Knight Foundation President Alberto Ibarguen vowed to mount a fight to stop the facility. Calling them formidable foes is an understatement. (Miami Herald)
Ka-ching. The Florida Public Service Commission says that FPL overcharged us customers for Hurricane Matthew recovery costs to the tune of $27.7 million, and it needs to give it all back. Don’t get too excited, though: that comes out to an average of $3.18 for each residential customer. You’ll see the credit in your August bill. (Miami Herald)
Minor details. Miami-Dade is filled with toxic waste sites, many of them parks built on top of piles of toxic incinerator ash. One of those is the Melreese golf course – the same spot where David Beckham wants to build his soccer stadium. Cleaning it up will be insanely expensive, activists say, and unless local officials are careful, it could be taxpayers stuck with the bill. (Miami New Times)
Not a good look. Nineteen ICE special agents overseeing Homeland Security offices in major U.S. cities have asked DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to abolish ICE and create two new agencies to do its job. In a letter, agents with the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) unit said that the public perception of ICE has become so toxic under President Trump that people are refusing to cooperate on essential efforts like investigating human trafficking. One of those 19 people is Mark Selby, a special agent in charge of the Miami office. No response yet. (Miami New Times)
Yikes. Miami’s rate of new HIV cases is the highest in the U.S., and almost four times the national average. Experts point to a spike in heroin use, the stigmatization of testing and treatment, the lack of needle exchanges, and our slow adoption of a medication to prevent HIV transmission as the key reasons. Does that stat stop you in your tracks? Find out where you can get tested here. (WLRN)
Planting a community. The Facebook show Returning the Favor, which is about do-gooders across the U.S., came to Miami. After a slight challenge navigating Brickell’s traffic (#beenthere, amirite?), they introduced us to Health in the Hood, led by Miamian Asha Loring. Asha takes vacant lots in “low-income, food desert neighborhoods” and turns them into gardens (with “totally bougie soil”) where they can grow both flowers and fresh produce. We love seeing Miamians getting props at a national level. (Facebook)
We’ll catch you mañana.
– The New Tropic