My love affair with South Beach has come to an end. I can liken my recent estrangement from South Beach to a 90s Hip Hop song called “Strobe Light Honey.’” See, a guy is out in a dimly lit club and is seduced by the sight of a well proportioned woman. He dances with her and hopes he may go home with her that night. The lights are turned on and the woman’s unfortunate looking face is exposed. Consequently, the man runs for the hills.
After my first couple of visits to South Beach, I was seduced by its energy. I loved everything about it: the pulsating sounds of live salsa music, topless beaches, outdoor cafes, and its one-of-a-kind art deco architecture. South Beach provides an environment that offered its revelers a good time without many barriers. Finding a good time was accessible and available for the taking.
My last time in South Beach was a different experience. I saw it with a pair of discerning eyes. Overall, with the exception of the bars and clubs, South Beach hadn’t changed. Actually, they were the same bars and clubs that had always been there. However, now they had different one word names like Bamboo, LIV, Mansion, and Dream.
I remembered South Beach had its own distinct glamour and sophistication. Without a doubt, it was a place to party and let loose. Yet, the revelry in those days seemed understated.
Now, not so much.
There isn’t a modicum of the former South Beach I knew. Instead, I saw a tawdry display of hyper sexuality, poor customer service, clogged pedestrian walkways, subpar and overpriced cuisine, whack alcoholic drinks, and a glaring disregard for discretion.
South Beach morphed into a college spring break for non-college aged folks.
For me, all of my nascent anti-South Beach sentiments came to a head while walking on Collins Avenue and having to step over piles of human vomit and detouring around a group of women taking duck face selfies.
Am I a travel snob with little patience? Maybe. I know I demand some civility. As I write this, I realize that, perhaps, South Beach has always been that way and I didn’t notice it before. Yeah it hasn’t changed. However, I, on the other hand, have changed. My tolerance for the tourist trap ridiculousness of the multi-block radius near Ocean, Collins, and Washington Avenues is non existent.
I still plan to play on the beaches of South Florida, just away from South Beach. I’m a grown man who is into grown man things. I want a nice cigar, good food and drinks, stellar customer service, and great interactions with like minded folks. As I bid adieu to South Beach and essentially to the mentality in my life where the South Beach scene was an attractive travel option, my South Beach memories will be cherished and rank highly in my mental rolodex.
Under the section labeled for twentysomething debauchery.