Gay Times Magazine

Miami Nice

South Beach has no sense of decorum whatsoever. It’s what people like about it. Which is what makes Miami such an eye-opener.

- Words Simon Gage

As we walk past the girl twerking in a string bikini for her friends at a roadside bar on Ocean Drive, we can’t help but notice she’s showing more than even she probably intended.

But that’s South Beach. If you’ve got it, flaunt it. Hell, if you haven’t got it, flaunt it anyway: someone might buy it. Sit outside, say, The News Café, where Versace came moments before he was gunned down outside his mansion just two minutes walk up that way, and you’ll see South Beach showing off in grand style whatever way it can.

Whether it’s the two shirtless guys in running tights jo†ing up there for two minutes then back down here for two minutes, just so the audience can appreciate their bounciness. Or the trio of girls eating burgers in sheer tops to show off some rather impressive surgery. Or the classic cars, open-windowed for the blasting out of music and catcalling at sexy sidewalker­s (we’ve been given a shiny convertibl­e Camaro by Hertz so we’re joining in on this bit with Lisa Stansfield remixes really turning heads). Or the trans dancer in a bikini in front of gay bar Palace, out Beyoncéing Beyoncé enough to literally stop traffic, pulling in dollars collected in buckets by bouncers wearing Every Queen Deserves a Palace T-shirts. Did I mention this is all at 3 o’clock in the afternoon?

South Beach, a stretch of Miami Beach, an island over a bridge from Miami proper, has no sense of decorum whatsoever. It’s what people like about it. What it does have is a sense of loveliness and a sense of sexiness. The famous stretch of pastel-coloured Art Deco hotels, too small to really work as hotels but too beautiful and important to do anything else with, will have your phone overheatin­g as you Insta each and every one of them walking up Ocean (the tackier bit) and then back down Collins (the smarter bit).

If you go further up, past 20t h Street, you’ll bump into the big boys of the Miami Beach hotel scene, the Delanos, the Betsys, the Rialto (currently undergoing huge renovation­s). There’s even a Soho House Beach House, where you can bore everyone with your business calls while actually on a beach.

A good compromise is the reasonably priced Stanton, a Marriott housed in a bi†er deco building right at the beginning of Ocean Drive. Quirky interiors, a beach-side pool, an in-house cantina called Lolo’s where Margaritas go for just $6 a pop come happy hour and a great location just around the corner from the huge Big Pink diner means it ticks a good few of your boxes.

As to nightlife, people – like other people the world over! – love to say it’s not what it was. But the important bits are. Take Twist, the nightclub that was not only good enough for Versace and his boyfriend but also for Versace’s murderer, serial killer and sharp dresser Andrew Cunanan.

The genius of Twist is that it’s like bar-hopping without ever leaving the premises. You can have your first sophistica­ted drinks in the low-lit downstairs bar, all a bit Twin Peaksy and sexy, then have a cigarette outside (or even inside, they don’t seem that big on observing regulation­s around these parts) on one of the little boardwalks that join the different bits of the venue and then, having cunningly availed yourself of single dollar bills, because you’re clever like that, step inside the bar where the stripper with a very obvious *ahem* barely tucked into his stretch Calvins is lumbering around on the mini-stage, daring you to pop one of those singles in his undies.

If you like things a little less in your face, you might want to try the fun but much less out-there parties at gay hotel Gaythering, which seem almost like private parties that spill out into the garden in front of the hotel, they’re that friendly.

Of course there’s more to Miami than this. This is all just Miami Beach and South Beach away from the big city and the big museums and the big everything. And it’s away from Little Havana, a Hispanic neighbourh­ood which may seem like a regular district with fun but not-very-LGBTQ bars and restaurant­s all along Calle 8 but which hosts the bi†est LGBTQ Latin Pride festival in the country. Or Little Haiti, with its must-Insta murals, indie galleries and perhaps our favourite Vietnamese restaurant in the whole wide city, Phuc Yea. Seriously, their crispy tofu. And their caramel cod. And their pepper-crusted churrasco. And their vodka martinis...

And this is just a regular day. Maybe even a weekday. You wait until Miami Beach Pride, a nine-day extravagan­za held early before it gets too sweltering, which seriously ought to be renamed Sexy Pride because when the population deems swimwear in a supermarke­t to be appropriat­e, you can only imagine how ji†y they get at this. Unless you are done up carnival-style in feathers and sequins, it’s pretty much skimpy trunks or just underwear across the board. With or without angel wings.

 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??
 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom