Over the next 5 days or so I’ll be blogging from the first annual Gay Days – Fort Lauderdale. At the beginning of the month, one of my blogs was entitled What Kind of Holiday Gay are You ? As mentioned, this Thanksgiving I’ve chosen to do use my time off to not be with family, but instead try my hand at full Gay Days immersion.
I had experienced Gay Days – Orlando, but not to the fullest extent. My friends and I rented a home just outside of Orlando, which was a blast. To the trip, we added on the Gay Days Expo event and the Parliament House nights and made it a great time. At the end of the trip I decided to do the full host hotel experience next year. When this opportunity came up to go to Gay Days – Fort Lauderdale, I said why wait until next year in Orlando? Let’s do it up now!
I checked into the W Fort Lauderdale, the host hotel, late on Monday night, unpacked and checked to see when the next day’s sunrise was so I wouldn’t miss it. The 45 minute process was an experience to watch from the bed, my balcony, and yes, even the shower. The room choice was perfect and I get to experience the sunrise over the ocean 6 more times.
I had become a member of the Starwood chain on my 40th birthday trip to Seattle / Vancouver and was happy to see that the W chain was part of the Starwood family. As a member, I was invited to Whiskey Blue located on the 1st floor of the W. There to greet everyone was Alexis Espejo, Marketing Manager for the W Fort Lauderdale. He mentioned the bar as well as the two pools on the premises were operated by the Gerber family, namely Rande Gerber, husband of Cindy Crawford and friend of George Clooney. I love learning little tid bits like that. Asking around I had found that Whiskey Blue, like many bars in Fort Lauderdale, is very gay friendly. Over free appetizers and beer, Espejo mentioned that there’s an interest to do more events at Whiskey Blue and the W geared toward the gay clientele. My friends and I were impressed with the space and would definitely come back and we will look forward to those events.
I’ve been in Fort Lauderdale for 15 months and it’s been great. As a gay male, I feel I can go anywhere in town, enjoy a great night and not worry that myself or my friends would be treated differently than any other customer. But sometimes we get in a rut, a pattern that feels very comfortable. My nights out have consisted of bar hopping on Wilton Drive with my gay friends and down town with my straight friends and never thought about going to Fort Lauderdale’s beach district. What’s fun and accepting over there for night life? In my mind and in what I’ve been told by long term residents, it was just the gay resorts, some being clothing optional. Not my usual cup of tea so I didn’t think of that area as an option. I know this week, that impression will change.
On the Gay Days – Fort Lauderdale calendar (link here), Light Up the Beach event was listed. The city’s Mayor would be present as well as music and other activities. My friends and I headed down to that, saw the lights and then skipped the music to head to Rock Bar for the Absolut-ly Fabulous Kick Off Party. Sorry Absolut, I didn't drink your product with the 2-4-1 margaritas specials available, but was able to chat with Sean from Absolut and Ayinde from Southern Wine and Spirits, both extremely nice to look at and even nicer to chat with. I would like to thank them both for making me and my friends feel very welcome and spending some time with me and the other customers. Ayinde elaborated on the Beach Improvement District and its participation in Gay Days Fort Lauderdale. I’m definitely going to look up what other events they are planning for the future. The friends that joined me for the 1st night of festivities had lived in Fort Lauderdale for 12 and 15 years and had never been to Rock Bar, but we all agreed we would definitely be back, sooner than later. The atmosphere was great along with the food, drinks, and the eye candy. One great thing about A1A is that there are always hot shirtless men running every hour of the day. Add margaritas and spinach dip and you have the best gay tail gating spot in town. I’m sold.
I’ve had a fabulous time so far and the pool parties haven’t even started. I’m studying the calendar of events now, maybe giving my liver a rest for the day, ok, morning and oh, I haven’t even checked into the Gay Days event as of yet. That’s one thing that I’m impressed about. Rock Bar, Whiskey Blue, Light up the Beach, and The Beach Improvement District, non-gay entities and business have aided in making my 1st day at Gay Days – Fort Lauderdale a memorable one. So memorable, I did miss the sunrise this morning. Oh well, there’s 5 more mornings to go. Time to go check in to the event!