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View Full Version : Key West Trip - Did not want to spend night in jail!



Uke Whisperer
12-27-2011, 10:04 AM
My wife and I just returned from our Key West trip. The weather was wonderful. Our room was right on the docks next to Mallory Square with a great balcony view of the harbor and Sunset Key. Food and drinks were wonderful too. Spent some time visiting with locals we have met over the years. Overall, a great trip, but with one disappointment having to do with not getting to play my Uke as planned. I carried the Uke with me on our first day around “old town” and the wharf. I had the opportunity to play at Hog’s Breath Saloon and a couple of other favorite spots before being notified by a Police Officer that “there is no free music allowed in Key West”, that playing and/or singing was illegal on city streets, walkways, right of ways, docks, historical (and hysterical) locations, in parks or about anywhere else that I wanted to do so. No “Leaning on a Lamp Post at the Corner of the Street” either! The Officer did tell me that I could apply for a License by filling-out and submitting an application, attaching $150.00 application fee and a copy of a $300,000.00 insurance policy for city property or personal damages. I did want to serenade my wife with “Somewhere over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” and to play “Dock of the Bay” while sitting on the dock, but I chose not to ruin our vacation by bringing-up Constitutional rights, etc. and/or by spending the night in jail.

FYI, we still love Key West!

I have attached a few photos of me and my Uke at some of our favorite “watering holes”, just for your “viewing pleasure”.



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Gwynedd
12-27-2011, 10:11 AM
Is it just me, or is the world filled with Mrs. Grundys now, the person who is determined to stop anyone who, somewhere, somehow, someplace, is having a GOOD time?

Gwynedd
12-27-2011, 10:12 AM
Oh, by the way, if you are serenading your wife out of doors, it could be a good argument for free speech. Fie on those pukes. I just read their ordinances.

"Street performance (or street performer) shall mean the following activities (or one who engages in them): acting, singing, playing a musical instrument, pantomime, juggling, magic, dancing, comedy, acrobatics, puppetry, joke telling, character impersonation and other similar types of public performance done for the purpose of public entertainment or amusement.:

If you were playing your uke to yourself and your wife, it's private and the cop was being an officious boob. I'd carry a copy of the ordinances. If you don't exceed 75 db and you aren't playing to the public, you are within your rights.

Ukuleleblues
12-27-2011, 12:44 PM
Typical Tourist town BS...too bad....never been there....won't go after reading this. Lived in Myrtle Beach, SC and had my fill of all that.

dkcrown
12-27-2011, 01:27 PM
Typical Tourist town BS...too bad....never been there....won't go after reading this. Lived in Myrtle Beach, SC and had my fill of all that.

Been to both places, but Key West will win out over Myrtle Beach IMO. Even if they don't allow public strumming:)

arpie
12-27-2011, 02:01 PM
OMG! Mr Grumpy is alive & well & living in Key West!! He must have sucked on a BIG LEMON that morning!! SO much for Xmas Cheer!!

I find that absolutely ridiculous and the fact that the officer took time out of his obviously NOT busy day to remonstrate over your uke playing - when I am sure there would have been plenty of criminal or unsocial activity that he COULD have been keeping an eye out for ....... shame on him!

It was probably some 1820s law that has just not been repealed!

Do they even SELL ukuleles in Key West???

Happy New Year (elsewhere I hope!!)

Roberta

coolkayaker1
12-27-2011, 02:18 PM
"I had the opportunity to play at Hog’s Breath Saloon and a couple of other favorite spots before being notified by a Police Officer that “there is no free music allowed in Key West”, that playing and/or singing was illegal on city streets, walkways, right of ways, docks, historical (and hysterical) locations, in parks or about anywhere else that I wanted to do so."--Uke Whisperer.

Based on the law, as cited by Gwynnedd, I just have to ask: were you playing for the public? Were you on stage, or was there even a small gathering around you when you played at Hogs Breath or the couple of other favorite spots. I'm just clarifying.

I adore KW, but the oppressive side of the law you have exposed, UW, is sad.

3nails4holes
12-27-2011, 02:21 PM
when i bought my guitar, my goal was to learn to play it well enough to return that next spring break to earn $ in mallory square and the streets of key west. goal achieved!

i played jimmy buffett, bob marley and sprinkled in praise songs & handed out tracts. i made decent money.

years later, my (then) girlfriend and i returned. we got engaged at "blue heaven" restaurant on thomas st. (actually, that was the second time she said "yes." the first was about 30 feet under water off of big pine key earlier that day. that's another fun story there!)

i can't believe that key west would enact such a restrictive ordinance. buskers are part of the scenery and draw of key west.

Trinimon
12-27-2011, 03:19 PM
AHh good old Sloppy Joe's. Glad you guys had a fun time despite the slap on the wrist by the Florida cops. Bummer.

SuzukHammer
12-27-2011, 03:21 PM
Land of the free? NOT!! I'll strike KW off any vacation plans due to boring.

Uke Whisperer
12-28-2011, 12:24 AM
Spoke to a friend last night that was in Key West a month or so ago and said that was a political big fight about the ordinance before and after it passed. Seems the Council claimed they did it protect the "legitimate buskers" like those at Mallory Square? Also, my understanding is that playing an instrument inside a bar, restaurants, etc. does not require a street performer license, only outside in public.

If one is playing "just to be playing" and not asking for money for it, I disagree with any License requirement.

Yes, Ukuleles and other instruments are sold in Key West. Key West has what seems to be a very successful Ukulele Club that get together once a month at the Green Parrot. Perhaps a Key West Club member will jump-in and provide additional information.

We still love Key West and North Myrtle Beach, but not Myrtle Beach (“Not a dime in ‘09”, then again in 2010, again in 2011…)

Gwynedd
12-28-2011, 12:35 AM
The ordinance (copied out in an earlier post) says if you are not playing "for public entertainment" which is a vague designation, and if you do not exceed 75 decibels, you are not in violation. I read the entire ordinance; it also covers people sketching in public.

This country is getting oppressively annoying. Although I can see the db requirement; I was in NYC recently and I have a hearing issue that makes loud sounds a big problem. The subway was blasting with buskers and under a tunnel heading through Central Park, a saxophonist nearly busted my eardrums. Yeah, it's a nice sound chamber but I had to hold my fingers in my ears to transit the tunnel.

But put a law out there like this, and some cop will take ANYONE to task for it, to exercise their power.

wolfybau
12-28-2011, 01:01 AM
this is realy sad. I thought I'd like to visit Key West because it was one of the few places that still allowed free public performance. My dream has been shattered :(

you cnat do anythign anywhere any more it seems like. And to ban something innocent and good liek palying a little music for people to brighten theri day. For some peopel it might mean a little food on their table. It realy has become a prison planet.

Plainsong
12-28-2011, 02:12 AM
I call shenanigans on that cop. You weren't playing for money. He was just throwing around his authoritah on you, just because he could. :(

telebob
12-28-2011, 02:22 AM
Despite the outside performance issues, I'm glad to hear y'all had a good time in Key West. I've not been there yet, but would still like to visit the Conch Republic. :)

Gwynedd
12-28-2011, 02:24 AM
That's what I'm saying. You make an ordinance like that, some officious moron gets in your face, not because it's right but because HE CAN.

The ordinance was organized to raise money--the fee for busking is ridiculous "protect the real buskers" is code for "we shook them down." Pah. Oppressive. I'm chalking it off my list too. Oh, here's a good Keys story for you: my late husband used to go there all the time with his buddies. Once a guy who had an outdoor cart selling chili "Best Chili in the Keys" had him watch the cart as he needed to go get more chili. When this dude came back, he opened 10 cans of Hormel chili. Best chili in the Keys. Harrumph.

Uncle Leroy
12-28-2011, 02:33 AM
It is all Jimmy Buffet's fault.

dkcrown
12-28-2011, 02:46 AM
We still love Key West and North Myrtle Beach, but not Myrtle Beach (“Not a dime in ‘09”, then again in 2010, again in 2011…)

+1 on North Myrtle, Tom. And Murrel's Inlet down towards Pawley's Island. I'm just not a fan of places that build high rise hotels and condos right on the beach. Really takes away from the natural beauty of the ocean.

Uke Whisperer
12-28-2011, 06:31 AM
+1 on North Myrtle, Tom. And Murrel's Inlet down towards Pawley's Island. I'm just not a fan of places that build high rise hotels and condos right on the beach. Really takes away from the natural beauty of the ocean.

My memories of the area when single family cottages line the beaches were some of my best. It keeps getting worse and worse. I remember when North Myrtle and most of Myrtle looked like Pawley's with the cottages and dunes. Now with the bridges to Ocean Isle and Sunset they are changing too. Who knows what Sunset will look like in a few years. Myrtle probably don't allow "free music" now, who knows...

byjimini
12-28-2011, 06:45 AM
"no music is free" - should have told him to pay you, then. :D

Skitzic
12-28-2011, 08:20 AM
Many tourist hot spots have a law like that. My friend got cuffed and brought to the station (not arrested, but they gave her a HEFTY fine) for copping an attitude when an officer said you can't bust here. She played the 'I'm not busking I'm playing for my amusement' card many of you are speaking of. While I don't (totally) agree with laws like that, you have to pick and choose your battles. And the battle will not be won with one musician and one cop duking it out on the beach.

coolkayaker1
12-28-2011, 09:19 AM
Question: in Key West, do they permit playing a ukulele in the jail? With the nose bleed prices of downtown/Duval Street B&Bs there recently, it might be an option.

PS> No place have I had a limier margarita that the old Sloppy Joe's/ Limey. Limey. Good and limey.