Calling on experience gleaned on stages from Broadway to Istanbul, the multicultural staff of CooLAM Dance Studio powers a diverse selection of dance and fitness classes. Like the secret ninth Ivy League school, CooLAM is literally open to anyone—its name is a derivative of the Hebrew word for "everybody." Whether dabbling in dance for fun or seeking intense pre-professional training, adults and children aged 3 and older can register for group or private classes covering 18 disciplines. Depending on which class they choose, students might entrust their feet with such instructors as Sonic, an Israeli-born hip-hop and break dancer who has worked with Rihanna and Kanye West, or SusiQ, a salsa instructor who discovered the dance style in Cuba and eventually taught it all over Europe. CooLAM also boasts an eclectic array of event services, which equip parties with basic DJ and décor services and extra entertainment that ranges from face-painting and pony rides to a mechanical bull and auctioneer karaoke.
In Joni Sheram's one-woman play, Cups, the playwright gives audiences a peek into her packed lingerie drawer through intimate knowledge of her history and character via the progression of tangled straps and faded lace. As Sheram pulls out assorted bras, she reminisces on the myriad memories marked by the quotidian bits of fabric, from the hopeful clasp of a training bra to the daunting responsibility marked by a nursing bra. A strapless bra is used to convey coming-of-age anecdotes, and a heap of ashes commemorates a bra burned during the firewood famine of the 1960s. Hailed as hilarious by scads of reviewers and department-store managers, the play also touches on aging, loss, and decades of women's personal and collective history.
The French Quarter, the signature restaurant of the Mardi Gras Casino, features an upscale menu brimming with sandwiches, steaks, and seafood. Sandwiches such as the portobello burger, marinated and grilled with roasted red peppers, silence stomachs begging for breaded bliss ($7.95), and fans of beef and silent t's sink their incisors into 8-ounce filet mignon ($23). Pan-seared mahi mahi covered in fresh mango salsa ($13.95) swims into the bellies of seafoodies not already noshing on an 8-ounce sirloins accompanied by jumbo shrimp ($20.94). Live dog races and panoramic views of Fort Lauderdale also entertain diners from the comfort of their tables or the discomfort of their mohair unitards.
When Ronni Delvalle grabs ahold of one of her mirrored studio's chrome poles, she feels more graceful, beautiful, and self-assured than when she's practicing any other type of dance or fitness. Fueled by a drive to share this empowering form of sensual exercise with women of all shapes and sizes, Delvalle and her a team of female instructors lead a variety of fitness and instructional pole-dancing classes designed to build confidence, tone muscles, and burn calories.
The team also conducts an aerial-yoga course that incorporates soft cloth hammocks suspended from the ceiling, offering a practical alternative to equestrian yoga, which requires students to form downward facing dogs on the backs of speeding Clydesdales.
Oscar Ochoa's passion for salsa dancing sprouted at age 9, grew rapidly at age 18 when he began taking formal lessons, and blossomed at age 24 when he won first place at a salsa competition. Today, the founder of Miami Salsa Driven combines his dancing expertise with the physical discipline he's developed from years of practicing tae kwon do and Brazilian jujitsu to lead detail-oriented salsa lessons. His team puts a big emphasis on creating an environment in which beginners feel welcome and unintimidated by advanced dancers trying to show off complex moves, such as the iceless triple axel. Students have ranged from seasoned dancers to a first-timer police-department captain, who actually ended up joining a professional dance team. Located inside the Tempo Music and Dance Academy, Miami Salsa Driven's classes focus on improving students' self-confidence and fitness levels with hands-on instruction and practice. One of the studio's walls is completely covered in full-length mirrors, allowing dancers to adjust their posture to match the instructor's or enjoy uninterrupted eye contact with themselves.