A Rant

No One Wants to Listen to Your Playlist at the Beach

It's legal, but it's a jerk move to play music on the public beach, where no tune is sweeter than the sound of the waves.

By Kim Doleatto May 26, 2023

Looking forward to a beach day? Dear volume lovers, consider others while you're there.

Sarasota County is currently working on a measure to ban smoking cigarettes and cigars on public beaches. Maybe next they could outlaw stereos?

Picture this: It's a perfect beach day, the kind of day when it feels like nothing can go wrong under a big, clear blue sky. But then the people just a towel away break out the Bluetooth speaker and crank their "summer vibes" playlist to sand-rattling volume.

You have to wonder what goes through people's minds. It's not as though people go to the beach to unwind, relax or have quiet conversations. No, oh no. They go there to be serenaded by the same songs they could have listened to at home, in the car or even at the beach...with earbuds.

Public, unsolicited music is noxious enough that there's a strict local music ordinance in place: no music past a certain decibel after 10 p.m. And last year, a statewide ordinance was signed into law that now allows fines for loud noise coming from your car. If people can hear your music plainly audible at a distance of 25 feet, or roughly two cars away, police can hand out fines of up to $116. I’m not a fan of those rules. In fact, I'd like to see them repealed. But if there's any place where sound should be tightly regulated, I'd vote that it should be the beach.

I'm no stick in the mud trying to ride a horse and buggy down a modern-day freeway. If you're really bored, you can look me up in Sarasota County public records and find I have six noise violations, for which I paid thousands of dollars. But did any of those violations occur at the beach? Absolutley not.

Can't we all agree? The Gulf of Mexico provides its own perfect soundtrack—a soundtrack so soothing that it's a universal call to relaxation and peace that is included on all those little sleep machines and insomnia apps. Music at the beach is akin to paving paradise to "put up a parking lot," to quote a song I also don’t want to hear at the beach. (Sorry, Joni.)

I don’t want anyone to go to jail for cranking music on the beach. I just think it should be regarded as the faux pas it is. It's like talking loudly in a theater or calling the bartender "sweetheart." And for those who aren’t stimulated by our planet’s heartbeat, there’s great news: Headphones exist.

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