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Miami: Boobs, Brats and Bling

August 9, 2012

Rap music pulses through wet pavements and fills our ears with heavy bass. A slick black car with oversized wheels that glitter in the lights of Miami Beach makes its way slowly through crowds of people. Other cars are backed up behind it, but the black beast takes its time. It slows to a stop in front of us, and the driver opens his door to show off neon lights and a scantily clad girl grinding to music on a tv screen. A passenger hops out. His oversized white t shirt clashes against the dark night sky. He pulls out a pink umbrella and moves to the music as his companions film him. He’s standing in the middle of the road, but drivers behind him stop accordingly and their cameras flashes make more bright lights. The streets are crowded now, all staring at the black car and its occupants.

In my home town, teenagers lower their Nissans and blast music from a muffled speaker as they drive up and down the street, trying their best to look cool, to look hard. In Miami, they don’t try. These are the people those boys from home want to be, this is who they’re trying to emulate. But they never will. Not without Miami.

Earlier on in the day, before I went seeking the oddly beautiful and the beautifully odd on Ocean Boulevard, I’d been at the tennis courts in Key Biscayne. The Sony Ericsson Open may be well finished for the year, but the kids on court look like they’re trying out for it. There’s a junior tournament going on, and two ten year olds have managed to shout and scream enough to require their own official. At first, the taller boy seems to be the one to blame. He c’mons on double faults and fist pumps on points he wins. When he breaks the smaller boy, he thumps at his chest like a 10 year old Novak Djokovic. But the smaller boy soon shows his snotty side when he pulls ahead. He yells out deuce when he’s down 15-40, prompting an interference from the official. He screams out in three languages; vamos, allez and ‘let’s go’ are all part of his colourful vocabulary. He wears a backwards Rafa hat, but clearly he doesn’t admire him for his sportsmanship. The parents, both sides camped on opposite ends of the court, are barely any better. The smaller boy’s mother leans out of her chair to argue a line call. She’s all bleached blonde hair and gold hot pants and wedged heels. She’s so Miami, except that she’s Russian. Both families pump their charges up between sets, like it’s a boxing match for life or death. But it isn’t. It’s just a tournaments between 10 year olds. God knows what they’ll be like in another 10 years.

Miami isn’t all false glamour and plastic bodies. It has another side, a side of Cuban culture and beautiful beaches away from the imported sand of Miami Beach. But while these things make Miami warm and welcoming, they’re not the most exciting to write about. Hence Miami’s reputation for boobs, brats and bling will live on. But after the hospitality and biblical nature of the South, Miami makes for more than a nice change.

To read about my time at the tennis in Atlanta, Georgia, click here

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