From down the beach, we could hear Annie’s
unmistakable voice, “Sing, my sisters, sing.” And hello—the sisters
were doing it for themselves—and singing was just the beginning. It
was Winter Party Beach Party 2008, on 12th Street
Beach, and Joe Gauthreaux was in the booth. And sisters—and
brothers—by the score were passing under the three successive
flamingo-pink entrance gates. Turquoise pylons supported roof
trusses woven together like a turquoise-and-white placemat framing a
photo perfect sky. Yellow Winter Party Festival banners
flapped in the breeze. The dance floor was PINK! And every sister
had an opinion—“Better than last year,” “Not what I imagined,” “It
works for me.” It was Miami Beach Technicolor. It was Hollywood’s
idea of the Beach in turquoise, yellow, and flamingo pink—and as if
to complement set design, there was Holly, circuit diva
extraordinaire, on a box—showcasing a new outfit every hour—from
Miami Beach matron to tennis-ball-nippled Brickell socialite.
Everyone was there! Seriously, everyone was
there. No, really—EVERYONE was there. It was the most social Beach
Party, the most gregarious bunch of boyz and girls. It was a big
long dancing gabfest—with the most sublime musical journey as
accompaniment and complement. It was gay Winter Music Conference,
with music peeps and deejays—Manny!
Warren! Wendy! Randy!—schmoozing and kissing. It was a six-hour
celebration of fifteen years of progress—because the first Winter
Party in 1994 was to help defeat an anti-gay amendment—and even
though much is still not right for us, there’s much good that has
happened in those fifteen years, thanks in part to the Dade
Community Foundation and the Task Force.
And those volunteers— Those ever-gracious
volunteers, so helpful and cheerful—and adorable. Our sisters, and
brothers—working to make it better. Because, think of it like this:
there are 1,318 federal benefits denied us by denying us the right
to marriage—and that’s just one issue. So it matters, this party,
this Winter Party Festival—and it was right to celebrate—where we’ve
come from and where we’re going.
And that’s where Joe G. came in. He led us on
the journey—from where we were to where we are. He took the baton
from Alyson Calagna who’d played the Pool Party the afternoon
before—and he ran with it, hitting musical markers all the way
home. It was a kind of tag-team challenge. He threw down “Make Me
Work,” as if challenging the crowd to join him—and we did. There
was “Big Love” back and forth. It was a crowd of beach-combing
pleasure-seekers washed ashore for the day. It was Goa;
it was Ibiza—it was Winter Party 2008.
And it was in the details. The girls from
Macy’s passing out Shiseido SPF
55—to keep those noses and faces as gorgeous later as they are now.
And the beanbag chairs under the parabolic tent and the couches in
and the go-go boyz with their costume changes—from Undergear to
Aussiebum to rainbow-toweled Carmen Mirandas.
Everyone was happy. The weather was flawless.
You could stand on the staircases or the bleachers—and stare out at
the ocean, the cruise ships sailing out to sea—and then remember you
were already there: right where you wanted to be with everyone you
wanted to see. And that’s when Joe G. threw down “Let’s Get
Together”—and that’s when it happened: the complete coalesce.
Everything coming together for that perfect moment—a song-long
moment where everything was perfect and euphoria reigned. The sun,
the boyz, the music, the peak—it doesn’t get better— “Never felt
like this before. Oh, let’s get together. Oh, let’s get together
But it did—get better. Another whole hour of better—when suddenly
Robert Shaw of the Task Force got on the mike and asked, “You want
another hour? Another hour of Joe G.?” And the crowd roared, as if
an answer were necessary—and on we went, dancing on the beach with
complete freedom and abandon, as the sun set behind us on Winter
Party Beach Party 2008.