Here in Fort Lauderdale, there are many hot spots. Some hotter than others and some not as well known. Getting off the beaten path can be a great experience or it could be quite scary. I had the pleasure of finding one of those gems off the beaten path this year. Sunshine Cathedral.
I hadn’t been in a church since Christmas 2013 and before that, Christmas 2012, so when my roommate asked me to attend a concert at his church, I was a little hesitant. It was a little south of the city, on a Friday night, and well, it was in a church. I was happy that he hadn’t asked me more than twice to attend a service there. But was this his way of getting me into the building and signing me up as a member? I believe I may be an individual that is all churched out, raised in a Roman Catholic household with mass every Sunday, Sunday school, and my stint as choir director for 4 years at my undergraduate college’s church. I didn’t mind church, but I think I liked the show and the ceremony of it all and especially the singing, more than the belief and practice of religion itself. Was going to his church that threatening? I had popped in to a picnic lunch the church held at one of the local Fort Lauderdale parks as well as attended a spaghetti supper and had never felt that I was being recruited. And when I drank the cool-aid, there were no side effects.
But this was going to be a different event, one held in the actual cathedral, Sunshine Cathedral. I knew I wasn’t going to burst into flames if I entered and lightning wouldn’t fly out of the sky to smite me right there on the cathedral steps. It was not that kind of church and that didn’t happen at my home town’s Roman Catholic Church. If it didn’t happen there …
So I attended. It did help that it was Steve Grand putting on a performance. Before he went on in the Cathedral, Steve participated in a meet and greet / VIP Reception next door. There were snacks, drinks, and an opportunity to take pictures with the very cute and sociable singer. The performance itself was amazing. Seeing Steve on the stage and hearing how personable he is made it a great evening. I will be looking forward to his new album release on March 24 th. For more information on Steve and his new album, go here.
After the performance, I prepared myself for some form of recruitment or a synposis of what the church stood for. Nothing. Nada. What I did see were church members and staff present having a great time and showing great pride for the opportunity to welcome community members into their place of worship. That was it, but that was a lot. It was such a peaceful environment without the stress of being tagged as a non-member. It was such a calm, clean, and inviting event that it made me want to come back for more the next chance I found.
I want to thank Sunshine Cathedral for being another venue in the community. But it is more than that. I think I was more comfortable there than walking into most of the gay bars in town. And as for the venue itself? I was impressed. The quality of the sound was shocking. The lighting effects they did during his show made the venue the costar of the event adding so much to the performance. Needless to say, I was impressed, but I was comparing it to many clubs that attempt shows with their dancefloor lights and the over-bassed sound system so the performer sounds like a NYC subway announcer.
Point? Take a chance at a new venue. I took a chance, put away some of my fears, and went for it. You don’t need to go to Bar A, then B, then C every single weekend. Don’t always look in the same Gay Rag for something to do. Branch out for you may find a quality place that is inviting, clean, and one you want to go back to again and again.
What are some of your non-club scene treasures that you would like to share? Is there a small theater, church, venue that just truly impresses you?
Or … Is there a bar / club that is actually great at putting on shows? One that does better than a theater? Here's a chance to give them a shout out, too.
Leslie Jordan is one of the most consistently recognizable faces in popular entertainment. His journey towards stardom has provided one of the quirkier, impressive varied career trajectories of the past few decades. His arrival in Hollywood back in 1982 (with $1500 sewn into his clothing by his steel magnolia Mother) was the starting gate. After a brief career as a jockey, Jordan has enjoyed the full show-business spectrum; the lean days, the bumps in the road, the acclaim, reaching the pinnacle of television performing with award recognition, the ensuing victory laps followed by an alarming and unexpected down slope, the dangers of being type cast or stereotyped, the challenges to remain relevant in a rapidly changing world of technological advancement, and the ever present threat of being put “out to pasture” by a youth obsessed culture and industry.