90’s Nostalgia: Cafe Culture

I was taking a shower & letting my mind wander, as the hot water hit my body like rain on a bombed out warehouse; part of my usual routine when the thougts drifted in.  I half smiled with soap in my eyes, thinking about the places and people so many years ago.  Back in the early 90’s in Fort Lauderdale (& most of South FL actually) there was a big “Cafe Craze”.  Funky little coffee houses sprung up like pennicillin on neglected rye bread, all of which reveling in the artsy, trendy, neohippy/grunge vibe (that I miss horribly) that was de rigeur at the time.  Every third band was a Ska band, tongue piercing was still shocking, and there was a pretty vibrant and interesting local music scene. 

Of all these cafes the one that was the coolest without a doubt was “The Mudhouse” it was a delightfully anarchic hole in the wall, almost impossible to find near the train tracks, with a punk rock record store right next door: the long defunct & missed “Echo Records”  I remember their signature drink, “the Iced Neurosis” which was an unholy amalgm of espresso, chocolate, irish moss & sugar.  They would have movie nights in their overgrown patio on a sheet hung between 2 trees.  In fact, it was during one of those movie nights that I saw the movie Akira for the first time, long before anime was a dirty word. God, when that place was around I was actually young, thin & attractive, yet so hopelessly cluless that I’d be hanging around with my then nemisis virginity for a couple more years.  “The Nocturnal Cafe” (now “The Poorhouse” which is an absolutely great bar but a completely different creature) in downtown Ft. Lauderdale was another long missed favorite, hell, whenever I go in there my mind is still confused as to where the bookshelves & couches went.  A third well-missed place I haunted was the equally extinct “Hot Moon Cafe” which was great because it was on my way home from work so I didn’t have to drive all the way downtown.

There are only 3 places left that I can think of that hole a candle to the old Cafes, the first is UndergroundCoffeeHaus, (check them out  myspace.com/undergroundscoffeehaus   )  Gregg & I actually used to host the open mics there a few years ago and the place is still really fun & I hope doing quite well.  Another little gem (in Davie of all places) is the Chocolate Moose Cafe which has just changed it’s name to Stage 84 ( http://stage84fl.com/ ) which is a very encouraging locale for local performers.  Last but certainly not least is the Kava Bar which isn’t really a cafe,  it’s it’s own thing but the people are great and the vibe is better.  When I lived in Boca Raton I hated the entire town but the Kava Bar was the one oasis of cool and Kava is worth a post of it’s own on a later date, please check them out too  http://www.nakava.com/   .  I know that I’m not just remembering places and times, but who I was back then and how I felt (which physically at least was pretty damn skippy in comparison to now) the hope, the naivete; but it really was a period that had it’s golden moments that are commonly missed by all who were there at the time.


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