Long before South Beach started to look like a never-ending sequel to Spring Break Massacre, that salient stretch of soft white sand served as perhaps the hottest spot on earth. There were the models and the bottles, of course. But buying one didn’t necessarily ensure the other. And there were the obligatory celebs. Though in those days they came because they wanted to swing the scene; not because they were paid to party. More importantly there was a small yet highly influential legion of like-minded souls who were determined to forge their own kinda place in the sun, a place where folks were free to be whoever they desired, and where the unenlightened need not ever apply.
Like all great good things, that South Beach came to an end. Sure there were a few tears shed at a few too many goodbye parties, and yes, there were enough last dances to last a couple lifetimes. But these were hale and hardy folks, the sort that look forward, rather than back, and who didn’t mind reading the writing on the wall because they’d written it themselves. They came, they saw, and they swung. And there was nothing to keep them from doing it all over again whenever they damn well pleased.
Flash ahead to 2009. Miami Beach sees it needs to recapture some of the flash and the sass that made it so infamous in the first place. So Mayor Matti Bower calls in the Miami Beach Gay Business Development Council and delivers the word: it’s time we spread our Pride far and wide, and invite the whole wild world to come back to the Beach and party.
And boy did the word get out. Lads and lasses from all four corners of the proverbial globe assembled en masse for one long night of soul-stirring joy. They hit the sand, they hit the Strip, they joined the parade. And they all agreed: South Beach can indeed be the place to be — if we decide to make it that way.
Those first thousands quadrupled for year two, and 2011 promises to double that — and then some. Andy Cohen, Bravo’s Executive Vice President of Original Programming and Development, will be the Grand Marshal of this year’s Gay Pride Parade, and he’ll be joined by special guest DJ Tracy Young (fresh off her recent guest appearance on The Real Housewives of Miami) and a vast cast that out-colors the rainbow itself. There will be parties, naturally, by day and by night and through the wee small hours of five beautiful mornings. And it will all end with Pride at Sea, a four-night cruise to the Bahamas on the spectacular Norwegian Sky.
You want more? How ‘bout the bona fides? In addition to the usual stellar suspects, the sea cruise is being sanctioned by TheNationalGay & LesbianTaskForce, the MiamiGay & LesbianFilmFestival, CareResource, AIDSWalkMiami 201, AquaFoundation, TheMiamiDadeGay & LesbianChamberofCommerce, IGLTA (InternationalGay & LesbianTravelAssociation), SwitchboardofMiami, HiltonWolmanEventsand everyone’s favorite Lincoln Road watering hole, Score. More to the point, those four days on the high seas will give all the proud boys and girls a chance to get off solid ground and celebrate the fact that without them there would’ve been no South Beach, then or now.
Something to think about while Ocean Drive fades over the horizon.