The sights and sounds of the Caribbean and Latin America can be found right here in sunny South Florida when Pride Fort Lauderdale celebrates “Carnaval,” Feb. 21 – 24, with an expanded four-day schedule, including the first-ever parade in city history along Fort Lauderdale Beach.
The colorful festival theme, a nod to both the diverse ethnic communities that call Greater Fort Lauderdale home and the timing of Pride during the Mardi Gras/Carnaval season, will be incorporated into nearly a dozen official and sanctioned events, including:
THURSDAY, FEB. 21 – Runway Fashion Show
7 p.m. Trunk Show and Reception, 8 p.m. Fashion Show
Hard Rock Event Center, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Hollywood
Pride Fort Lauderdale opens with a glamorous runway fashion show hosted by “RuPaul’s Drag Race” All-Star Naomi Smalls and fashion guru Carson Kressley (“Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, “Fashion Police”) and featuring creative garments by talented “Project Runway” alumni designers. Male, female, transgender and drag models will sashay across the runway in avant garde outfits to a musical score provided by equally outrageous DJ Power Infiniti and recording artist Allan T. Be sure to arrive early to meet the designers and peruse sale items at the trunk show and reception. Tickets start at $25 at Ticketmaster.com.
FRIDAY, FEB. 22 – Pride on the Drive
6 p.m. – Late – Wilton Drive, Wilton Manors
On Friday night, the Pride Fort Lauderdale celebration moves to the “gayborhood,” as the Island City boasts one of the highest percentages of same-sex households in the nation, and is home to hundreds of LGBT-owned businesses. Participating restaurants, bars and nightclubs along Wilton Drive will offer live entertainment, drink and food specials and more—all night long. Hang out at your favorite spot or explore them all with friends. A complete list of participating businesses will be posted at PrideFortLauderdale.org.
SATURDAY, FEB. 23 – Drag Brunch – 11:30 a.m.
Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale, 1 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd.
Pride Fort Lauderdale is teaming up with the famed South Beach Wine & Food Festival’s Crave Fort Lauderdale series for a boozy drag brunch. National radio personality Elvis Duran and fiancé Alex Carr are your hosts for this one-of-a-kind meal. Celebrity chefs will create new dishes inspired by the 10 gender-bending performers who will entertain on the Ritz-Carlton stage. Tickets are $125 each at SOBEWFF.org/drag/.
B3: Bear Beach Bash – 12 noon
Sebastian Beach, Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd. (SR A1A) at Sebastian St.
The Pride celebrations gets started Saturday on Fort Lauderdale’s traditional gay beach with B3: Bear Beach Bash. Party the afternoon away with your host, “My Big Funny Peter,” Peter Bisuito, the world’s first gay muscle bear comedian. Enjoy hot muscle bear go-go dancers, music by legendary Ramrod DJ Herbie James, and more on the Sebastian Beach stage! Get there early and you’ll be in a prime location to watch the very first Pride Fort Lauderdale “Carnaval” parade, too! FREE, $5 donation requested.
Pride Parties & Parade – 12 noon – 7 p.m. Parade Step-Off at 5:30pm
Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd. (SR A1A), Main Stage and Viewing at Las Olas Blvd.
Hotels, restaurants and bars along Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd. are joining in on the fun beginning at 12 noon on parade day! Enjoy music and performances by popular drag performers at hotels, restaurants and bars along the parade route and live entertainment on the parade main stage all afternoon until the sun starts to set and the historic Pride parade steps off at 5:30 p.m. with floats, marching bands and appearances by celebrity guests.
Fort Lauderdale’s first openly gay mayor, Dean Trantalis, and Stonewall eyewitness and transgender activist Miss Major Griffin-Gracy will be grand marshals for the parade. For a complete list of participating businesses and schedule of stage performances, go to PrideFortLauderdale.org.
Pride Block Party – 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.
5th St. at Seabreeze Blvd. (SR A1A), Fort Lauderdale Beach
After the parade, dance under the stars to the sounds of DJ Dani Toro from Spain at the first Pride Block Party on 5th St. at Seabreeze Blvd. (SR A1A). There will be hot boy and girl dancers and special performances all evening long. It’s going to be an epic evening on Fort Lauderdale Beach. Free, $5 donation requested.
SUNDAY, FEB. 24 – Pride Festival – 12 noon – 8 p.m.
Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, 1100 Seabreeze Blvd. (SR A1A)
The highlight of the weekend is the Pride Fort Lauderdale festival, held on the pristine sands of Fort Lauderdale Beach. Explore the products and services offered by more than 120 vendors and exhibitors, taste cuisines from around the world, and dance to the music of internationally-acclaimed DJs Sushiman and Kidd Madonny. “American Idol” fan favorite Ada Vox and singer, choreographer and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” judge Todrick Hall are the headliners for this fabulous festival. Free, $5 donation requested.
We had the pleasure to sit down with headliner and American Idol Alumni, Ada Vox, for this exclusive Hotspots Interview:
As a young child you had a tragic brain surgery, how did that affect you?
As small child dealing with something of that caliber it can really put you into a dark place. I never let myself think that I was going to die. Even from a child, when something is out of my control I don’t let it bother me much. What’s going to happen, happens. If you act positive you are more likely to have a positive outcome.
Spending that much time in the hospital, did it change your relationship with your mother?
My mother and I have always been close. The situation put a strain on our lives, but it made our relationship more relatable. We spent so much time together when I was in the hospital and in my recovery. She sang to me and I think it helped me heal. By the way, American Idol season 1 came out the same year that I got sick.
Was there someone on Season One of American Idol that inspired you?
Of course Kelly Clarkson, because I saw someone on stage following their dreams and changing their lives. It drove me, and I never gave up on it. That’s why I auditioned so many times, and would not give up. When I sing I hope to take people to another place and heal whatever it is that pains them.
You auditioned so many times before you got picked, what kept you going?
Before my audition, I told myself I auditioned for this 12 times already, maybe this is not for me. So I had decided and I told all my friends I wasn’t going to audition unless they come to my state. It had been like 5 to 6 years since they had been to San Antonio, and that year they came and I got asked to audition. I think I said it enough times for the universe to respond.
On the finale you got to perform with Patti LaBelle, how did that feel?
That was something else, because I was sitting at home waiting for the finale and all I knew is that we would each be singing with somebody. When I got the call and the executive producer told me, I was soooo excited. The first time I met her we had a run through rehearsal and I walked up to give her a handshake and hug. At that moment she looked at me and said she loved me and that she is a fan of mine. To have a legend say that was mind blowing.
Where do you go from here?
I have been on my own tour since the finale of Idol. I started getting bookings early and thank god I haven’t stopped working. I have released a single already “Because of You,” and I was the first contestant from AI to do so.
This month I will be releasing my second single on my YouTube channel entitled: “Forever Mine.”
What should our readers expect from your performance at Pride Fort Lauderdale?
I always try and give my all at every performance as I want people to feel something. I promise not to let South Florida down!
For more information about Ada Vox, go to her website: officialadavox.com. You can also find her on Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube – @Ada Vox and on Facebook.com/adavoxofficial.
In addition to official Pride Fort Lauderdale events, guests will have many official parties and events to choose from, including:
- Stonewall National Museum & Archives Gala, Friday, Feb. 22, 7 p.m., Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale. Actress and activist Kathy Najimy (“Sister Act,” “Hocus Pocus”) will be guest speaker. Fashion expert Carson Kressley will make a special presentation and Stonewall Riots eyewitness and activist Miss Major Griffin-Gracy will be honored. More information at Stonewall-Museum.org
- Sexy cirque troupe AirOtic, Friday, Feb. 22 and Saturday, Feb. 23, 8 p.m., Sunshine Cathedral. This high-flying act offers an LGBT+ flavor in each mesmerizing performance. Tickets at OutlandishFL.com.
- Ronnie Larsen Presents production of the Off Broadway hit, “Afterglow,” Thursday – Sunday, Feb. 21 – 24, Wilton Theater Factory, Wilton Manors. An open marriage gets complicated in this drama by S. Asher Gelman. Tickets at RonnieLarsenPresents.com.
- Official Pride Fort Lauderdale After Parties on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday at local nightclubs and bars, 10 p.m. – Late. More information at PrideFortLauderdale.org.
- OUTshine’s Big Night Out, Sunday, Feb. 24, 7 p.m., The Manor, Wilton Manors. OUTshine LGBT Film Festival celebrates Hollywood’s biggest night, the Oscars, with a gala watching party at the area’s largest LGBT+ nightclub. Tickets at OutShineFilm.com.
Pride Fort Lauderdale, the oldest Pride organization in Florida, celebrates its 42nd anniversary in 2019. The first festivals were actually protest marches, born out of the successful 1977 referendum campaign waged by entertainer and evangelical activist Anita Bryant to overturn a historic gay civil rights bill passed in Miami-Dade County.
“As the LGBT+ community prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, Pride Fort Lauderdale is reminded of the progress we have made. We are especially honored to have Miss Major Griffin-Gracy as one of our grand marshals. She is one of the few eyewitnesses to that pivotal moment in history who is still with us 50 years later. Miss Major is a hero to all LGBT+ people and we’re proud to honor her,” said Miik Martorell, Pride Fort Lauderdale president.
More than 120,000 visitors from the U.S. and beyond are expected for the festival, one of the first in the nation each year, said Richard Gray, vice president for diversity and inclusion with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“Diversity is an integral part of our DNA in Greater Fort Lauderdale,” Gray explained. “We have always been a leader in LGBT+ tourism and we strive to make all our guests feel welcome and comfortable here. That’s why our motto is ‘Greater Together.’ Pride Fort Lauderdale has planned a magnificent festival that showcases just what makes us ‘Greater’.”
For more information about 2019 Pride Fort Lauderdale “Carnaval,” Feb. 21 – 24, go to PrideFortLauderdale.org.