“Now this is the winter outfit I’ve been waiting to wear all season,” said my new friend Richard as he strutted onto the pool deck of Miami Beach’s Surfcomber Hotel. He wore short shorts and a naked torso, accessorized by a pearly white smile. “I have friends who go skiing every year, and I say ‘No thank you!’ My way of celebrating winter is to get as far away from it as I possibly can.” And so every year, he and a group of friends from Chicago trade their winter coats for… well, as little as possible.
With an average temperature of 76°, Miami has been officially inviting the gay community and its friends to celebrate winter under the hot Florida sun for nineteen years. Yet from its inception, the goals of the aptly named Winter Party have extended beyond a good time…
Fuerte y Orgulloso. Strong and Proud. To celebrate the diverse, cultural heritage of LGBT Latinos, Miami Beach will host the first-ever Celebrate Orgullo on Saturday, October 1. Latinos are the fastest growing minority group in the United States and, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, comprise 65% of the total population in Miami-Dade County.
Azucar! The party kicks off at 12 p.m. on South Beach’s Lummus Park, at 12th Street and Ocean Drive, with dancing, singing, DJs, and a headlining performance by five-time Grammy Award winning Latin superstar, Olga Tañón.
The festivities coincide with the observance of Hispanic Heritage Month, from September 15 to October 15. This year’s national theme is “Heritage, Diversity, Integrity and Honor: The Renewed Hope of America.” Well, on October 1, Celebrate Orgullo sprinkles a little Pride into the mix.
Stay with family. No, not that kind—a different kind of papi. The Lords Hotel South Beach opened last year as the pioneering property of the first gay hotel brand in the U.S. It’s sassy and classy, and delightfully attitude-free.
You are in Miami; you need a taste of Cuban. David’s Café has been serving up Cuban food on South Beach for 33 years. Open 24 hours at 2 locations, David will satisfy your cravings anytime.
DRINK: The Palace Bar and Grill continues to be the only gay bar/restaurant on Ocean Drive. Perfect for post-beach drinks and Sunday T-Dance.
An oldie but a goodie. With the motto, “Never a cover… Always a groove,” Twist is seven bars in one, each with its own, unique vibe. Dance to hip-hop, salsa, top-40 or club music, or enjoy the “Bungalow Bar” with—truly—some of South Beach’s hottest go-go dancers.
(Photo provided by Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau)
Miami Beach has been an icon in our gay lives for decades. We visited Grandma in the 70’s, were seduced by the addictive glamour of “Vice” in the 80’s, partied like it truly was 1999, and embraced Euro chic elegance in the new millennium. Beyond seducing with an average temperature of 76 degrees, the world’s largest concentration of Art Deco architecture, and a culture that is at once American, European and Latino, South Beach is once again reinventing itself. Serving up new hotels, attractions, and a fresh tourism slogan encouraging you to “Express Yourself,” Miami Beach has something unique to offer this decade, and it goes something like this…
You’ve come a long way, baby. And so has your hotel. Last year, the Lords Hotel South Beach launched the new gay boutique hotel for our generation: fun, flirty, and (gasp!) affordable. Capturing the brightness of the Sunshine State with vivid colors, modern design and a playful vibe, the Lords Hotel dares you to not have a good time. Enter the lobby and greet a 9-foot-tall polar bear sculpture; chill by/in any of the three plunge pools; savor the eclectic dining options at the Cha Cha Rooster restaurant; or sip a signature cocktail at the hotel’s Absolut-inspired bar. Just leave your attitude at baggage claim, because at the Lords everyone is royalty. And with Cabana rooms under $150, “Rooms That Matter” donating ten percent of proceeds to an LGBT charity, and Penthouses with private terraces to delight even the most sophisticated traveler, the bohemian-chic Lords Hotel is inviting gay Miami to a place where we can all mingle.
Escalade? Bentley? Prius? Regardless of how you roll, Miami Beach now offers a more eco-friendly alternative. Since launching in March, DECOBike, the Official City of Miami Beach Bike Sharing & Rental Program, has expanded to now offer over 1,000 bicycles, parked at solar-powered bike-sharing stations three blocks apart—available 24 hours-a-day, 365 days-a-year, for rent by the hour, day or month. And to further entice, each DECOBike is custom-designed with an extra cushy seat for your comfort, a front basket for your goodies, and a bell for added fanfare.
Since the Mediterranean Revival style of the 1920’s, the Art Deco boom of the 30’s and 40’s, and the Miami Modern design of the 1960’s and beyond, Miami Beach architecture has continually evolved to complement the city’s growth. With the opening of the Frank Gehry designed New World Center in January, Miami Beach has set a new standard of architectural genius. Built as the artistic home of the New World Symphony (America’s Orchestral Academy), the Center houses a flexible, state-of-the-art performance hall designed to support everything from solo recitals to concerts by the New World Symphony’s full orchestra, in fourteen distinct configurations of stage and seating. The building’s exterior expands the audience viewing capacity with a giant, 7,000-square-foot projection wall, able to share performances with fans on the lawn of the adjoining 2.5-acre urban park, the Miami Beach Soundscape.
Equally impressive, the New World Symphony is not only developing the next generation of classical musicians, but also exposing a new generation to classical music, with innovative programs such as “Pulse: Late Night at the New World Symphony.” On these special nights, the concert hall transforms into a club space, alternating live instrumental performances by the Symphony Fellows with DJ sets of electronic music. Thump to the beats, dance with the crowd, and explore a New World of classical music.
Don’t go for second best, baby. Miami Beach has put your love to the test. And you know, you know you’ve got to… GO! A gay mecca for decades, South Beach is blessed with warm weather, hot boys and a sizzlin’ scene. It never ceases to impress, and, even more importantly, always continues to surprise. With the new hotels, alternative forms of public transportation, and world-renowned architecture unveiled in the last year, the city is poised to reign for yet another era. Moving beyond circuit parties and minimalist design, the latest vibe of Miami is friendly, sexy and culturally enriching in completely innovative ways. Pack your Speedo and a smile and get ready to “Express Yourself,” Miami style.
This article was originally published in Out Traveler:
… And click here to listen to my radio interview about Miami with Toronto’s Proud FM.
Read IQ’s article published in Out Traveler by clicking on picture:
This week, Miami Beach gets a little gay(er).
It’s raining men.
Hallelujah! On Saturday, April 16, it’s time to celebrate the 3nd Annual Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade, now the city’s largest single-day event. Starting at noon on 5th Street, elaborate floats will shake and shimmy their way up Ocean Drive to 15th Street. Last year’s parade brought out over 35,000 people from all over the world, proud to enjoy an inclusive celebration in one of America’s most popular cities. This year, “Watch What Happens” when Bravo TV’s Andy Cohen serves as Grand Marshal. Following the parade, the festivities continue at the Pride Festival at Lummus Park, along Ocean Drive between 10th and 14th Streets with music, food, and live performances.
Enjoy a prix-fixe brunch and bottle of champagne, with a heaping helping of eye-candy, directly along the parade route at Ocean Drive’s favorite gay spot, the Palace Bar. Seatings begin at 10:30 a.m. and continue throughout the day; call 305-531-7234 for reservations.
Don’t stop ‘till you get enough.
Following the fun-in-the-sun of the Parade and Festival, bop over to The Official Gay Pride Closing Party at Ice Palace Studio West on 71 NW 14th Street, featuring music fromDJs Abel and Paulo. The party starts at 10 p.m. and goes well into the next morning.
All the single ladies can whip their hair back and forth alongside the hot Go-Go-Girls of the MEGA Dance Ladies Partyat Score on 727 Lincoln Road from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.
If we took a holiday… took some time to celebrate.
Want more? The official Pride at Sea sets sail on a four-night cruise to the Bahamas on Monday, April 18. Relax, unwind and dance the last dance aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s “Norwegian Sky.”
First, on April 15, the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce unveils its new headquarters and Miami Beach’s first LGBT Visitor Center. Located in Old City Hall at 1130 Washington Avenue, the Chamber and Visitor Center will continue promoting business opportunities and highlighting Miami as a gay-friendly tourist destination.
It’s raining men.
Saturday, April 17, is a day of celebration as Miami Beach holds its 2nd Annual Gay Pride Parade. Starting at noon on 5th Street, the floats will shake and shimmy their way up Ocean Drive to 15th Street. Last year’s inaugural parade brought out over 24,000 people from all over the world, proud to enjoy an inclusive celebration in one of America’s most popular cities. This year, Sharon Gless, the actress best known for her TV roles on “Queer as Folk” and “Cagney & Lacey”; and Lt. Dan Choi, Iraq veteran and gay advocate serve as Grand Marshals of the parade. Following the parade, the festivities continue at Lummus Park, along Ocean Drive between 10th and 14th Streets with performances, vendors and a gay expo.
And the beat goes on.
Along the parade route on 12th Street, Ocean Drive’s favorite gay spot, the Palace Bar features“Drags Gone Wild”showcasing over 20 of Miami’s favorite Divas from 2pm-7pm, with a special presentation honoring Mayor Matti Bower, Commissioner Michael Gongora and Babak Movahedi at 3:30pm.
Getting a little hot for you? Cool off at Hotel Victor’s Gay Pride Pool Party at 1144 Ocean Drive, open to VIP from 11am-1pm ($40-$50) and General Admission from 1pm-7pm ($25-$30). The Hotel Victor’s pool deck looks out on Ocean Drive and the Parade so you could not be in a better spot to enjoy the show.
Don’t stop ‘till you get enough.
Immediately following the Parade and expo bop over to the official Miami Beach Gay Pride Closing Party at Dolce on 1500 Ocean Drive, featuring music fromDJ/Producers Yinon Yahel and Abel. The party starts at 7pm and goes deep into the next morning.
All the single ladies can enjoy the Women’s PRIDE Event Flingat Score on 727 Lincoln Road from 9pm-4am.
If we took a holiday… took some time to celebrate.
Want more? The first official “Pride Celebration at Sea” sets sail on a four-night cruise to the Bahamas on Monday, April 19. Relax, unwind and extend your celebration aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s “Norwegian Sky.”
If upon departing from your next trip out of Miami International Airport, you realize you bought one too few “Sunshine State” visors, or decide the “Miami Beach Bum” t-shirt may not be appropriate for Aunt Myrtle after all, stop by LA CARRETA restaurant, located by Gates D37 and D21 to pick up a tasty souvenir of pasteles de guayaba.
Pasteles are delicious, flaky, traditional Cuban pastries and by extension delicious, traditional Miami treats. Since pasteles are sold throughout bakeries and cafés all around Miami, Aunt Myrtle never has to know that they were a last minute purchase.
Though the sweet guayaba (guava) filling is the most popular, pasteles are also filled with carne (beef), queso (cheese), and guayaba y queso (you figure that one out for yourself). Pick your favorite or take an assortment, and gift a souvenir that is unique, delicious and culturally relative to Miami.
Traveling IQ is published in the travel magazine, Travel Squire.
Click on the picture to read the full article on the Hotel Victor, Miami Beach.
Art Deco Meets Bordello Chic in South Beach
South Beach has long been associated with extravagant glitz and glamour. Daytime is beach time: bikini-clad beauties sizzle in the sun and cool off in the clear surf. Nighttime is party time: fabulous folk stand in line at thumping clubs, blazing bars, and stylish restaurants. Yet oddly contrasting with this culture of excess, is a hotel design trend promoting stark minimalism. Challenging this theory of “less is more,” the Hotel Victor infuses modern comfort with opulent luxury.
The Hotel Victor brings Parisian charm to South Florida. Built in 1937, this Art Deco classic is included in the National Register of Historic Places. Reimagined by acclaimed French designer, Jacques Garcia, the Victor reopened in 2003, to claim its rightful place on the Ocean Drive strip.
The corner stone of the design —a 1,000 gallon, giant jelly fish tank—provides a living art installation while anchoring a style motif reflected in everything from lighting fixtures to the curved furnishings. Luxurious patterns and warm colors invite guests to indulge in the comfort of glamour. All 88 rooms boast ocean views, oversized soaking tubs, and rain showers. Guests can choose to stroll on the white sand beach or admire it while lounging by the infinity pool.
After a day of exhausting relaxation, a visit to Spa V will revitalize and prepare any visitor for the evening ahead. As the sun sets, a rising appetite leads to either of two onsite restaurants: Vue, casual fare served on a terrace; or Vix, complex, Mediterranean-inspired cuisine presented with luxurious simplicity.
The Hotel Victor is a rare gem in the sparkling South Beach scene. South Florida is a melting pot of simmering cultures, so it is only fitting that this hotel celebrate the marriage of modern and classic. At a time when minimalism is the standard, the Hotel Victor succeeds in creating an ambiance that is lush, colorful and inviting.
“Can I have a Whopper, with smoked bacon, sharp cheddar, porcini mushrooms and parmesan peppercorn sauce?…. Oh! and a beer, please.” Yes, you can!
Burger King has always wanted you to “have it your way.” In Miami, that will include the option of a beer when the Burger King Whopper Bar opens in South Beach later this month. The first BK restaurant to sell alcohol in the United States will also sell traditional and specialty versions of its famous Whopper. Fast food connoisseurs can choose from one of the “gourmet” concoctions or create their own from the 22 sandwich toppings. The new burger being unveiled in South Beach this month,the BK Black & Blue Steakhouse, comes packed with blue cheese, pepper bacon, blackened Cajun sauce and onions.
The Whopper Bar South Beach, open 24 hours, will cater to the all-night crowd at its Washington Avenue and 11th Street location, while providing delivery service on branded mopeds between 10:30am and 11:00pm. If successful, expect a new trend of fast-food chic expanding to other major cities.