As winter slogs onward toward its snowy, slushy, freezing conclusion, those who do not live in South Florida increasingly think of only one thing: South Florida. But if anyone needed an additional reason to head down to the tropics in early March, there's the Winter Party.
Founded in 1994, the original Winter Party featured just one event, Miami's first mega-dance party ever held in on the beach. The combination of South Beach, surf, sand, along with hot men, muscles, music and weather, proved irresistible. Soon, thousands of men were pouring in from around the world, making this one of the hottest weekends on the gay calender in every sense.
Today, the Winter Party has grown to include a week-long celebration with dozens of events, from shopping expeditions to museum crawls — and parties, parties and more parties. The roster of international DJ talent and Miami's unparalleled clubs provide the kind of parties that could never happen anyplace else in these 50 states.
Best of all, the entire proceeds go directly into our community. The National LGBTQ Task Force, the event's producer, donates a significant portion of the proceeds to local LGBTQ groups. In 2016, the Task Force donated a record-breaking $275,000; over the years, the total has been $2.4 million.
It starts with Thursday's appropriately named Ignite, the first of many to take over one of Miami's megaclubs. (And down there, mega means mega, baby.) Friday gets even hotter with late-late-night Heat. Don't oversleep, or you'll miss one of the major weekend highlights, the Saturday pool party, which takes over a glamorous beachfront hotel pool area with turntables, wet-and-wild fun and amazing eye candy.
That night, there's the appropriately named Energy, with Berlin-based Israeli superstar Mickey Friedmann spinning. And the next day comes the weekend higlight, the all-day-into-evening Beach Party. A dance floor, pavilions, DJ booth, tents for relaxing, drinking and chatting sprawl along South Beach's Lummus Park. As the afternoon wears on, the gentle waves of the Atlantic Ocean slowly darken until the sea seems to float into the azure sky.
In the other direction, the soft neon pastels of Ocean Drive seem to pulsate in an echoing dance of their own, while all around you exquisitely handsome, muscular men. And on deck, Ralphi Rosario and SoBe's favorite native son, Abel, the legendary DJ partnership known as Rosabel.
After a respite to eat, relax and do whatever, be sure to head to the WE Party. Once again, Spain's premier party-producing brand is taking over a nightclub to present one its legendary nights of sensory overload. Wind down early Monday morning at Verve for one last twirl on the dance floor before donning galoshes, muffler, overcoat and gloves. Almost one last twirl — because the Task Force has added a final-final-final party. The aptly named Finale will take place at Scores, beginning at 5 a.m.!
Fully restored in 2014, the oceanfront National Hotel's historic tower offers unparalleled views of ocean and city. The pool area is jaw-droppingly glamorous, even by SoBe standards. The Deauville became synonymous with Miami Beach high style when celebrities like President Kennedy, Frank Sinatra and the Beatles stayed there. With one of the largest pools in South Florida, it's the perfect spot for the Saturday pool party.
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