Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Wondering what your fellow gay neighbor upstairs is doing that is causing your ceiling to feel like it is about to collapse like your 401k? Go upstairs and ask; they will probably tell you they are on day 75 of P90x in preparation for one of most anticipated events of the year; Memorial Day weekend in Pensacola also known as Pensacola Pride. The 5-day weekend is considered a favorite travel destination of many Atlantans. The event draws crowds from all over the south mostly coming from Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, the Carolinas and especially Georgia. With Atlanta being landlocked, it is not hard to see why so many from here make the short drive and head to the beach. Some have dubbed the annual pilgrimage; “Blake’s on the beach” as a joke to point out how many of the familiar faced Atlanta boys you will run in to in Pensacola only in their bathing suits instead of all dolled up in their usual evening attire.
The Florida panhandle is not known to be a very liberal location to host such a big event. Despite the unlikely location, the locals embrace and welcome the masses of LGBT community that descend every year to Pensacola Beach and notice the huge economic impact it brings. The celebration began more than 20 years ago and has become a cross between a circuit party and a gay pride celebration. The event draws some 50,000 partygoers to the area over the several days.
The Portofino Island Resort is the host hotel for the weekend and usually sells-out months in advance. The Mediterranean-style resort spans 28-acres on the east end of Pensacola Beach, offering luxurious amenities such as seven heated pools, spas, saunas, steam rooms, Olympic-sized pools, indoor and outdoor restaurants and other services like water shuttle to the Pensacola Boardwalk for entertainment and shopping. Despite The Portofino website promise of “white sandy untouched beaches”, anyone who has been watching the news is aware of the oil spill that has covered the Gulf of Mexico in a dark layer of petroleum killing thousands of marine life and ruining the “white sandy beaches” across the shorelines. The bad news is we can’t help bring back the dolphins; the good news, the oil forecast looks clear for Pensacola’s beaches during the Memorial Day Weekend.
The host hotel boasts so many amenities that the guests should have no shortcoming of activities but honestly, most of your time is spent in your new Boy Next Door bathing suit with friends on the beach drinking in a make-shift tent city and talking about last week’s Glee episode while sightseeing and meeting new people. You might get lucky and end up bunked up with your future soul mate; anything is possible in the panhandle. A perfect way to end your beach days is to bounce around all of the many condo parties held all over the resort or head out to the local nightlife events at Emerald City, Pensacola’s premier gay club. Emerald City will be hosting a plethora of events for the night owls including Atlanta favorite DJ Joe Gauthreaux on Saturday and others like DJ Jay-R and DJ Dewight Barkley spinning throughout the week.
So get your bathing suits ready and your best liver out of storage and get ready for a weekend of crazy adventures that will surely end up as the headliners for table conversations amongst friends back home and, remember to update your facebook/twitter/foursquare/manhunt statuses often to keep us, who have to work in on all the action.
at 5:08 PM