Schmooze Over Miami teaches history through a theatrical pub crawl

A first of its kind theatrical pub crawl, dubbed “Schmooze Over Miami,” will feature performers from The Front Yard Theatre Collective as they take people on a time-travel journey through Miami’s iconic decades while introducing them to downtown Miami’s most bona fide bars.

The organized evening of debauchery and entertainment takes place on Saturday, Sept. 12. Crawlers will meet at Biscayne Tavern on 146 Biscayne Blvd. at 4:30 p.m. where they’ll get wristbands (21 and over event) and meet their guide, before heading to Chat Noir (a jazz club), Pub One (a dive bar) and Elwoods Gastro Pub (a British-style watering hole).

Every stop will represent a different decade in the 20th century, where performers will act, sing or dance, as they recap significant events from the 20s, 60s, 80s and current era, in a comedic effort to expose people to important events in Miami’s history while inside downtown’s “hidden gem” bars.

“We figured it would be cool if we get a bunch of people together to get to know places in downtown Miami that otherwise you had no idea existed,” says Gabriela Fernandez, the founder and director of The Front Yard Theatre Collective, which consists of a growing group of local theater enthusiasts who create and act out original skits, improv performances, short musicals, and outdoor talent shows in and around Miami.

“Downtown Miami clashes with itself.” she says. “On one hand you have all the jewelry and fashion stores and 9 to 5 business and then you find yourself in downtown at 6 p.m. thinking ‘Oh my gosh what is this parallel universe of nothingness?’ but then there are these little nooks and corners of the coolest venues in town.”

Chat Noir describes itself as “Miami’s only underground jazz club,” where saxophone musicians play for guests in a cellar, a rare commodity in Miami. It also serves specialty wine and cheeses, appetizers and beer. Fernandez relates Pub One to South Beach’s Mac’s Club Deuce.

“It’s one of those places where you walk in and everyone knows your name – there’s different types of people, different ethnicities all together in one place.”

Last year, the Collective put on an interactive theater experience bike tour called “History on Wheels.” Participants followed a performer playing the part of Julia Tuttle, Miami’s founder, as she “time traveled” on a bicycle to different downtown sites, with each stop offering riders a unique tour of the city’s historical landmarks as they witnessed a part-by-part play at each location.

The idea for this year’s “Schmooze” came about by Fernandez and her troop wanting to do something similar, combining local history and entertainment, while being innovative in their approach. Fernandez said someone had joked about offering an event that involved alcohol, and from that, a theatrical pub crawl was in the works.

The Collective partnered with the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) to feature “Schmooze” as part of Downtown Art Days, an annual three-day weekend of art events to promote downtown as a center for art and innovation. The DDA and Union Institute and University gave the Collective a grant, while others donated $1,000 on Kickstarter to make this event happen.

“Miamians will definitely see some recognizable characters in the recaps of every decade,” says Fernandez of “Schmooze.” “It’s Miami centric so it definitely references specific moments in Miami’s history, but it’s mostly entertainment focused – dancing, music, acting, comedy.”

The tour, bar hopping, and performances are free and open to the public. All participants must be 21 years or older to attend and must purchase their own drinks, if they wish, at the bars.

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