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How not to be a dick in Miami

The etiquette rules every Miamian must follow.

Eric Barton
Written by
Eric Barton

Back when Brickell was just a quiet neighborhood south of super-sketch downtown, and the beach was all shuffleboarding old people and strung-out coke heads, the rules of Miami were decidedly different. Those days Miami was a sub-tropical sub-paradise. The sleeves of sports coats were pushed up to elbows, the pole-thin South Beach models looked like they needed a cheeseburger, and everybody wanted a gator on their Sonny Crockett sailboats. OK, some of that is still true. But now that Miami has become America’s Coolest Ciudad (trademark pending), we need a new operating manual. Here then are some things you should know to avoid being a Miami shit.

1. Be not on time

It’s not easy to know what time something starts in Miami. Generally, be on time for restaurant reservations and the theater. Show up a bit late to dinner parties, because the host isn’t expecting you yet. Be fashionably late to the club. Be very late to the concert with opening acts. For weddings, it’s likely they’ve told Miamians to show up an hour before the thing starts. Whatever you do, embrace that you’re in a place where being late is the norm, not the exception.

2. One colada per person

Every afternoon, from Doral to Hialeah and all the way down to Kendall, somebody’s walking around offices with a little tray full of thimble-sized paper cups with a Cuban coffee called a colada, which could fuel all the rockets of all the billionaires. You take one, you say “thank you” in your best Spanglish, and you raise your pinky as you sip. Ah, it’s good.

Cuban coffee
Photograph: Shutterstock

3. A guide to the mango tree

Out front in a basket, you can have it. On the tree, it belongs to me.

Mango Mangoes
Photograph: Shutterstock

4. Be cool with the bro

Bro will be said. Bro will be said no matter your gender. Bro will be said at the beginning of the sentence, smack in the middle of it, and inserted at the end. Accept the bro. Be cool with the bro. And the bros will be cool with you.

5. Monster trucks are for the Monster Jam

Everyone thinks it’s interesting that you grew up in Okeechobee and know that snipe hunts are an actual thing. But the truck with the neon illuminating your lift kit is taking up the entire parking lot of Enriquettas, and we all hate you for it.

Monster truck miami
Photograph: Shutterstock

6. Accept the rules of the Palmetto

Nobody knows why the Palmetto Expressway exists as a place where the rules of the road don’t apply, where people will drive 30 mph in the left lane, and pass in the breakdown lane, and use hazards when it rains, and never once ever in their lives use a turn signal, and do blow off the back of that nice lady while trying to steer with their knees. We’re not excusing this driving anarchy. But the rules of the Palmetto are a thing, and you should probably just stop honking at everyone for it.

Palmetto expressway
Photograph: Shutterstock

7. Play it cool, name dropper

You were in line at Salty Donut that one time with Pitbull? The guy from 2 Live Crew was your football coach? Shaq once palmed your entire skull? Do you want to tell us again about Ricky Martin’s abs? Yes, this is a city where celebrities are as common as clubs with bottle service, but try to keep your stories about the run-in with The Rock to a minimum.

8. Wristband love

You’re leaving the new club/concert venue/outdoor food hall/cocktail mixology center. You smartly had them affix your wristband loosely. You slip it off, over your knuckles, and you hand it, like a pro, to the kid waiting at the back of the line.

Photograph: Shutterstock

9. The rules with the roosters

There are wild chickens and roosters. We don’t know why or who’s responsible. Just don’t mess with them.

10. There’s no party like a hurricane party

Yes, yes, we know about storm surge and windshear and whatnot. But when the hurricane comes, be sure you’ve stocked up on margarita salt, mint for the mojitos, and wait, are we out of michelada spice?

Hurricane party
Photograph: Shutterstock

11. The local language is Spanglish

Dígame the truth. Sometimes you’re not cool con Español in the middle of a conversation with the lady en el supermercado because you just need to find the pañales para adultos because you’re driving to the ‘Canes away game en el norte and can’t stop, won’t stop. Embrace the Spanglish and all will be muy bien, mi asere.

12. The Miami handshake

Too many transplants have had their hearts broken by a stark reality: that girl who always kisses your cheek as a greeting doesn’t love you. This is how we say “hi,” Minnesota.

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