As you step inside the historic Ball & Chain (originally opened in 1935), consider the legendary jazz musicians and fascinating characters that crowded this space so many decades ago. Ball & Chain is a venue, (reopened in the exact same location it stood from 1935-1957) where epic late-night parties and historic daytime jam sessions transpired. We welcome you to rediscover the vintage cocktails, enjoy live performances by local/national musicians, and explore the unique and ever-evolving personality of the surrounding neighborhood. The community is rooted in tradition and it represents so much to Miami’s Cuban population. Ball & Chain is a part of a huge transition to thrill the five senses with contemporary trends and flavors fit for savvy locals and travelers alike while maintaining the authenticity of the past. Salud!
The building in which we are located is at the heart of many stories about the neighborhood now known as Little Havana. The Ball & Chain’s narrative began in 1935 when its doors opened in this exact space as a saloon “on the Trail” (aka Tamiami Trail), eventually morphing into a secret den for gambling.
More than a dozen years later, despite Miami’s stubborn Deep South mentality, legendary African American entertainers graced the stage in the center of the bar. Sultry jazz by Billie Holiday and big band by Count Basie wowed nightly and defined nightlife in the area. “The Count” treated lively spectators to daytime jam sessions and regularly invited members of the audience to perform with him. Sadly, one of the most alluring features for black musicians was the understanding that they could stay at the neighboring Tower Apartments following their shows (so long as they entered through a rear entrance).
The Ball & Chain’s mob-affiliated owners lost the bar after a bitter contract dispute with Count Basie and this initiated an endless identity crisis for the once soulful space. By the 1960s, the neighborhood had shifted from predominantly Jewish or Southern to boldly Cuban. Eighth Street became “Calle Ocho” and 1513 became a furniture store until the mid-1990s. It went on to endure vacancy and a brief stint as a modern-day nightclub. This could have been the end, but the story continues… The Ball & Chain is back!
Re-opened in 2014, the Ball & Chain has become a must-see for visiting daytime tourists. Little Havana, now receives over 3 million daytime tourists per year.
In addition, Ball & Chain has exploded onto the nightlife scene. Having been named one of Miami's top new bars, Ball & Chain has received local, national, and international press. With the likes of CNN, The Today Show, and many others--people come from near and far to sip amazing cocktails, hear great jazz, and watch featured main acts take over our Pineapple Stage!
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