“Miami’s music scene is all over the place, the Wild Wild West, and very specific all at the same time. It is not like anywhere else,” says Lauren Reskin, co-founder and owner of Miami’s stalwart indie vinyl shop, Sweat Records.
For the last 12 years, Sweat has served that very specific Miami community by creating a space where local music-heads can gather, shop, and enjoy regular all-ages programming, like the annual Record Store Day music festival and in-store listening sessions and vinyl workshops.
“Miami, to me, is such a better place to live these days, just because you have all these options,” she says. But it hasn’t always been that way.
As a teenager growing up in Miami’s suburbs in the late ‘90s, Reskin remembers the thrill she felt after finding out about the new Virgin Megastore coming to town. “The fact that this British company with this amazing international music was gonna come to Miami, I was like, ‘I’m gonna work there.’”
After a crash course in music retail at Virgin and a few trips to bigger cities, she couldn’t help but notice other voids in Miami’s young music scene. A petri dish of cultures and sounds, Miami had cultivated bases for punk and electronic music, but the city itself was spread out, and a lack of communication channels and community gathering spaces for music lovers made it difficult for people to connect.
Eventually, she channeled her years of experience at Virgin and connections as a local DJ and party promoter to open her own record shop with best friend Sara Yousuf.
“When we first opened, when we sold stuff, we were writing it down in a sparkly notebook,” Reskin says. “It just kind of reinforces my belief that you can do anything you set your mind to, you just have to be slightly organized.”
Since opening in 2005, Sweat has faced a hurricane that forced them to reopen in a new location, the advent of the streaming economy, and nay-sayers who doubted their prowess as women in a male-dominated industry.
“If there is a guy working the same shift as me, most people who come in assume he’s the person in charge, he’s a person to ask for everything,” says Emile Milgrim, a partner at Sweat responsible for stocking Sweat’s racks.
Against the odds, Sweat has become synonymous with the local music scene—especially live, underground music. “We do a lot of things within and for the community. We support a lot of local artists, help promote local events. It’s a place where people meet each other,” Milgrim says.
And it’s helped bolster a local resurgence of vinyl culture, at a time when everything’s gone digital; last year, Miami got its own record pressing plant. Lately, Sweat has focused on helping bands host release parties for the records they’re pressing at the local plant.
“Music is crucial, it’s never going away, and a large element to popular music is rebellion, subversiveness, punk ethos,” Reskin says, considering Sweat’s future. “What’s more subversive in today’s digital climate than buying a giant analog record?”
The Shape of Music is a video series in which TrackRecord looks at how fans are changing their local music scene.