Staggering in the Realm of Fights and Fondling at Beach Bars

There are some places where spring break never ends. People there will always be dancing and drinking till they publicly pass out. There will be fights and fondling and impromptu football, booze-swigging and beer buckets and pickup attempts on perfect strangers. And that is the beauty of Fort Lauderdale.

Elbo Room: "DICKHEAD! HEY, DICKHEAD!" A trashed young man wearing a Kiss-like wig was yelling from the second-story balcony of the Elbo Room.

"Who are you talking to?" a guy from the first story screamed up at him.

Jason Crosby

Location Info


Elbo Room

241 S. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd.
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316

Category: Bars and Clubs

Region: Fort Lauderdale


Elbo Room, 214 S. Atlantic Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-463-4615, or click here.

Pirate Republic Bar, 400 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-761-3500, or click here.

Dirty Blondes, 229 S. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-728-9801.

"I don't know — " Kiss-wig dude responded. "Everybody!"

Fortunately, this is nothing new. Drunks have been screaming obscenities from the balcony of the Elbo Room, an old-as-dirt Fort Lauderdale party staple, stationed across the street from the beach, for going on 70 years now. And clearly, no changes are in the works.

As I was ducking through the crowd, a tall woman with striking blue eyes grabbed my arm. "We need more young girls in this picture!" she screamed in my face and tossed me headfirst into a group of rabid Saints fans, all decked out in their black-and-gold best. After the photo was snapped, I peeled myself off of J.R., her short, chiseled but feel-up-happy friend, and straightened my shirt.

"I love Elbo Room!" J.R. said. "I love Fort Lauderdale!" The small gold and black beads around his neck swung, and his beer sloshed enthusiastically.

"And I'm from New Orleans, and we know how to party!" He put his hand on my shoulder and then inconspicuously dropped it down to the small of my back. I pulled away when it became clear he was going in for an ass-grope.

"She's a yacht captain!" he pointed at the tall woman.

"I tell people I'm a homemaker," she said. "I don't like the attention."

"Yeah!" yelled J.R. "I don't go around telling people I'm an astronaut."

"But you aren't," the yacht captain muttered, before walking away to talk to a balding dude with a string of overly large gold beads around his neck.

"She only likes you for your big balls!" J.R. screamed at the other man.

A Ramones cover blared as I darted deeper into the Elbo Room. The place showed its age but captured that old spring break charm — from its rickety second story to its dingy red walls decked out in neon beer signs and framed photos. The tables outside were decorated with mementos of spring breaks past — coins, Where the Boys Are blurbs, shells, beads, and at least one snapshot of a woman in a thong bikini. The long narrow bar boasted more bottles of liquor and cheap beer than a frat house, and the bartenders spun over one another trying to serve the surging masses of thirsty partiers. After several unsuccessful attempts to procure booze — I would have taken shot liquor from a Dixie cup by this point — I was suddenly distracted.

"I fucking hate it!" a big, broad dude with a strong Jersey accent was screaming. "I hate walking in Vegas! I love the girls and booze, but I hate walking around." He punctuated his statement with a swig of beer, and Sheila — a black-haired beauty who'd been swept up in his story — laughed.

"On the day I was supposed to come back here, I canceled my flight and got hammered," Jersey dude continued. "I started drinking at 10 a.m. By 5 p.m., a friend invited me up to his suite — in the Bellagio or some shit."

"Nice place," commented Sheila.

"My friend had a room full of naked girls!" Jersey dude said. "One girl was ironing his clothes!"

"Busted!" said Sheila, nudging me. "That's how we know you're lying. Naked girls don't iron!"

"OK, that's a lie, but the rest is true," he said, sloshing his beer. "Anyway, Vegas is fine, but I like Costa Rica way better."

Pirate Republic Bar: In front of a sign that reads "The beatings will continue until morale improves," the bartender babe leaned over to pour a drink, and a raucous drunk used his camera phone to snap a picture of her impressive cleavage.

Pirate banners, witty signs, and Mickey Clean original crayon art covered the walls. The Pirate Republic is a smoky, partially outdoor bar between two buildings: It's chock-full of knocked-over beer bottles, loud rock music, and take-no-prisoners bartenders.

Outside the bar is a wooden seating area, complete with ledge and stools, plus half a dozen pirate flags and a shitload of graffiti. I took a seat by a slew of scribbled names, carefully formed hearts (with initials inside), and the inscribed words "break bread, not hearts." Ah, the words of prophets.

Brian, a surfer type sporting a sun-shaped tattoo on his deltoid and carrying a backpack, declared himself a bar transient. He was more hippie than pirate, but I wouldn't have been surprised if he'd slit my throat to take my beer.

"I — we — have a beautiful life," he said, looking deeply at a group of partiers behind me. "We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world."

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