Over the years, we Miamians have gained a reputation for our partying, our inability to keep time, and most recently, for apparently being “the rudest city in America.” And while those may all be valid, we’re also just a diverse melting pot with awesome beaches, even better nightclubs, and a whole mess of people trying to fuse our different cultures into one. How we act, what we wear, and the languages we speak may not make sense to most people, but they’re also what make Miami what it is: a Magic City with a confusing system of etiquette that, once you understand and respect, will leave you loving our city as much as we do.
ACCEPT THAT WE SPEAK LOTS OF LANGUAGES
This is Miami. It’s the place that bred both Pitbull and Rick Ross, and also where Jeb Bush and a Trump hotel call home. We have a large population of people who speak Spanish, and if you go to the beach, you’ll even find lots of Europeans who traded their cold for our sun, apparently to be one of those people who hassle you to eat at Ocean Drive restaurants. Our languages are so confusing that we even invented our own, Spanglish, but if you’re not from here, you’ll definitely no comprendas. It goes without saying that (like any new place you travel), when you don’t speak the language, you need to be respectful and work with the locals until you get by; but for Miami specifically, here are a couple tips to avoid offending anyone in the process.
Learn how to order your Cuban coffee in Spanish, or no Cuban coffee for you!
A cafecito is potent Cuban coffee that comes in a white plastic cup the size of a thimble. Cortadito is that, plus a few tablespoons of milk and sugar. If you go to a ventanita (a Cuban coffee window) and ask for “coffee,” you will get the first of the two, and rejections of such will cause the sassy Cuban barista to give you a look that can only imply you’ve disrespected her ancestors. “Regular” coffee is Café Americano, and if you want it with milk, you throw in a “con leche.” NOT lychee, the fruit we grow in Homestead, but leche: “leh-chay.”
When striking a conversation with someone, assume nothing about what language they speak
Even the whitest people in Miami come out of the womb speaking Spanglish. In fact, when you go to a store or restaurant, there’s no telling if a person will start speaking to you in English, Spanish or both. Even most of us who don’t speak Spanish can understand it, and the same goes for those who speak Spanish, but don’t speak English. Go to a deli on Miami Beach, where menus are in Hebrew, and prepare to be further confused.
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DRESS TO IMPRESS (MOSTLY)
Fashion in Miami is a weird world. On South Beach, it’s all about who and what you’re wearing, but on the mainland, wear the real locals live, we know that true Magic City fashion means there will always be someone dressed worse than you. Despite our loose, yet judgmental dress code, however, we still have some general rules we all embrace and follow.
Unless there is sand under your feet, there is no excuse to be “pata sucia.”
We don’t care what you see in Kendall or at neighborhood pig roasts; walking barefoot in public situations is not okay. I mean, yes, we all have those nights (and despite what people tell you, we’ve ALL done it), but we cringe when we think of them and we judge ourselves. And we’ll judge you.
You can never be too overdressed for Hyde Saturdays.
You want to go to a pool party? Nay… the hottest pool party in Miami? Cool, just grab your diamond monokini, 18-carat gold Ray-Bans, and the Gucci espadrilles. Wait, no, the Rebecca Minkoffs – let’s keep it casual.
White is acceptable all year round.
We don’t know what it means to have a dreary winter day, so we act like it’s summer all year round. White blazer, white dresses, white shoes, the works. When you ask someone on South Beach about the “no white after Labor Day rule,” they cringe a little. Plus, it’s hot as balls here, so wearing white is both fashionable and a survival tool.
Wear your highest high heels to both the club and your first day of class at MDC.
We’re all about image here, so it’s important to be classy -- er, sexy at all times. Wearing your best high heels to a night out at LIV is pretty much an unwritten rule, and if you happen to wear those same heels to class the next morning and even Publix afterwards, you’ll fit in with all the people in monokinis who just came from Hyde Beach. Basically, stripper heels are welcomed in all situations, and every Miami girl owns a pair or five.
BEWARE OF THE CLOCK
Did we mention we run on our own time here? We call it “Miami” time, and it’s usually 45 minutes later than whatever time we told you we would get there. The only people who get mad about it are people who are not from here, and they’re new here, so what do they know?!
Never be on time to a party, especially at someone’s house.
It’s actually annoying to be right on time here, and straight up RUDE to be early. We all operate on Miami time, so if you’re early, your host isn’t ready for you yet, and if you’re on time… your host isn’t ready for you yet. We’re not saying be a jerk and have no regard for time at all, we’re just saying don’t mess up the system. Sometimes being a little late is just “being considerate,” JEEZ.
If you’re running late to a work meeting, send a message.
There’s a 99.9% chance that neither you or the person you’re meeting will be on time for a business lunch. Or a meeting. Or drinks. Or life in general. That said, it’s still work, so you should always at least pretend this isn’t the case and call or send an e-mail to let them know you’re on your way.
Embodying good Miami manners despite hailing from across the Pond: the sleek new Jaguar XE. Its exceptional handling should be a legal requirement for anyone navigating those Miami drivers who make their own reckless rules. Jaguar also strongly encourages the use of turn signals and driving the speed limit.
BE READY FOR A KISS ON THE CHEEK, ALWAYS
No, we’re not in love with you. It’s just how we say “hello.” We hug and we kiss you on the cheek, and it’s completely platonic. Don’t make it weird.
WE HAVE OUR OWN DRIVING RULES
People say we aren’t good drivers, which is probably true, but they also just don’t understand our driving rules here. Like rule #1, “We do what we want,” which is closely followed by all of these:
Don’t use a blinker, it’s a sign of weakness.
In the left lane and need to take the next exit on the right? Just go for it. The other ten cars will move.
Learn how to parallel park.
ESPECIALLY if you plan on going to the beach. There are garages, yes, but street parking is the cheapest option. When you find an open spot, you’ll need to have the skills to parallel park quickly, or the SUV in the left lane will ninja-cross four lanes over to get it before you do.
Pedestrians are the Miami Driver’s nemesis.
We believe in both happy pedestrians and happy drivers, and we get the latter of the two by keeping traffic moving. That said, we won’t hit pedestrians of course, but we do make a scene if they try to buck the system. It’s also important to note here that Miami pedestrians aren’t like New Yorkers, so they don’t just cross the street as fast as they can. They will stop to fix their clothes, catch Pokémon, or use their “casual stroll” across a Biscayne Boulevard walkway to tell you all about their latest Tinder nightmare, and sometimes they do it all when it’s not even their turn. Miami pedestrians are literally the worst breed of pedestrians.
In South Beach, tow away zones are just that: tow away zones.
MDPD whips out its parking ticket pads fast, especially in high tourist areas like South Beach. Want Starbucks? Don’t assume you can park in that fire lane “for five minutes” and you won’t get towed. Also, one thing we hate more than tickets is getting stuck behind tow trucks, sooo really, just follow the rules and don’t be that guy.
Driving the speed limit means you're going too slow.
Seriously, just because we’re late to everything doesn’t mean we like to move slow. We just don’t give a flip in general, which will also apply to passing you and then cutting you off out of spite when you drive too slow in front of us. We go whatever speed we want in both the left and right lanes, and we understand this is probably faster than you. Don’t get mad (or jealous) -- it’s driving, not personal.
KNOW WHEN IT'S APPROPRIATE TO WORK THE SYSTEM
For the most part, anything goes here. But we also still have cops, and you know, laws.
OUR BEACH, OUR RULES
We love a good beach just as much as the next Floridian, but since everyone actually wants to be at ours, it might as well be a whole other world. Know what to expect and where to go, and beware of our solid contingent of old guys in neon banana hammocks, and you should be fine.
Don't go to the beach at Ocean and 7th to "relax"
This is where the tourists go. It’s not meant for solitude, it’s meant for flirting with bachelor parties, beach games, drinks at Wet Willies, and bathing suits with questionable amounts of coverage. All the locals know that anywhere between 21st and Collins and South of Fifth is for out-of-towners and Jersey Shore cast members only.
Boxed wine is always a good idea
Technically, you’re not supposed to have alcohol or glass bottles on the beach, but also technically, you’re supposed to stay hydrated when in the sun for prolonged periods of time. Knowing this, we tend to ignore the first rule. But! To meet the hot lifeguards halfway, we like to go old school with Franzia. Sure, first people will judge you, but then… they’ll join you.