10 Lessons the Fort Lauderdale Bus Loop Taught Me
Photo by Betsey Denberg
A night on Fort Lauderdale's Bus Loop is like casual sex, you get in, sweat your ass off, and get off as quickly as possible.
Although the event officially started around 6 p.m., I decided it was best to wait until the sun went down to get the party started. I knew space was going to be limited and eventually my feet would be hurting, so I immediately went into party girl survival mode. I left the heels at home, ditched the over-sized purse, and ate lots of carbs for dinner.
8:25 p.m.: Check-in at the Galleria Mall. I thanked my lucky stars for purchasing tickets in advance because according to the girls behind the table, the event sold out. Clearly drinking for charity really does work.
8:30 p.m.: The line at Blue Martini looked unreasonably long, so we
decided to wait for the next available trolley and head to the beach.
After standing at the trolley stop for 15 minutes, we realized we were
actually at the Sun Trolley stop and not the Bus Loop stop.
to future Bus Loop planners: You're dealing with drunk people, make this
event as simple as possible.
8:45 p.m.: Check-in at Blue
Martini. Decided it was on the way to the first trolley so why not cash
in on the free drink. Plus the line was short enough to deal with. Two
frat guys attempted to push ahead of me in line like this bar was the
end all be all places to be. Cue eye-roll. The door guy checked our
IDs...really? I'm on the bus loop, if I couldn't drink why else would I
be on it?
Went with the free glass of wine,
decided it was better than Skoals vodka with cranberry. Peeked at the
two cougar's Bus Loop card's next to me, they already had 60 percent of the
stops marked off and it wasn't even 9 o'clock. They were in it to win it.
Tipped my imaginary hat to them, chugged my wine and ran to catch the
Lesson #1: Cougars love the bus loop, and they can out-drink you.
Complaint: Blue Martini, this is a charity event,
you should have really put some of your specialty martinis on the free
p.m.: Barely got onto the trolley. Literally. The bus driver squeezed
the doors on me while I was boarding. I was not drunk enough to deal
with that, but quickly recovered after seeing how empty and cool the bus
9:08 p.m.: Attempt to check-in Michael's Restaurant. Yes,
attempt. Why? They were fucking closed!
9:11 p.m.: Walked to
Bluefish Cafe, only to find out that it's a mob scene. Headed around the
corner to McSorley's instead.There is a guy wearing a beer bucket on
Lesson #2: The Bus Loop brings out the animals.
p.m.: Check-in at McSorley's. Needed a drink so badly at this point I
didn't care what I was getting. Surprisingly enough, the lovely folks at
McSorley's are giving out Yuengling as the free beer. Squeezed through
the insane crowd of spring breakers wearing wayfarer sunglasses and
singing along to Bruno Mars to get to the outside patio bar. There was a
50-something woman wearing a hot pink birthday crown dancing to "Whip My Hair".
Two cops were hanging out at the entry way to the bar, laughing and
pointing at the drunk idiots who were so obviously unaware of their
presence. "Teach Me
How to Dougie" blasted through the speakers, resulting in cheers
from the crowd and some drunk white guy attempting to "Dougie" his way onto
Lesson #3: People love to
dance in non-designated dance areas at any given moment.
p.m.: Check-in at Bluefish Cafe. It was shockingly quiet in there now
compared to our initial attempt at getting inside. At this point, the poster
board with the list of free drinks available had a majority of the items
"So just exactly what do you have available for us
bus loopers?" I asked the bartender.
"Well, what do you want?
And I'll let you know." he replied.
Lucky for me I was able to
get my hands on a cold Blue Moon. I don't even think that was on the
actual list of free beers, but from the look of his face he was just
over the night.
Outside a bohemian girl doused in patchouli
entertained the drunkards with her hula hooping skills. The Blue Martini
cougars from earlier suddenly appeared, still going and not showing any
signs of fatigue. They should be crowned the Bus Loop Beauty Queens or
something. A trolley pulled up and let out a heard of screaming drunks.
the booze. I need some ice cream or some shit in my stomach!" yelled
a large fellow to his stumbling friends.
While they ignored his
requests, he ran across the street to Yo Mama's Ice Cream to cash in on
his free scoop. Decided that I agreed with him and off to ice cream
parlor we went.
Lesson #4: Bus loopers are not tipping.
#5: Bars run out of the free booze options very quickly.
p.m.: Check-in at Yo Mama's Ice Cream. You know in a movie scene when
someone is in a desert, and upon arriving at their destination the sound
of angels play? Sort of like "Ahhhhhhhh". That is what happened to me
when I opened the doors of Yo Mama's. It smelled of ice cream dreams and
candyland fantasies. I went for the chocolate chip cookie dough. At
that moment in time, it was better than sex.
non-bar venue employees are the friendliest.
Note to the
planners of the Bus Loop: Putting Yo Mama's Ice Cream on the list of
stops was an excellent fucking idea.
10:10 p.m.: Time to get back
on the trolley. The crowd at the stop was a lot rowdier than before and
extremely large in size. At this point it was all about strategy. I
immediately went into party girl survivor mode and thanked god for
making me so short.
"Amy! Amy Winehouse! We love you Amy."
yelled some drunks at me.
Apparently in drunk guy land,
a girl in black eyeliner with tattoos = the ghost of Amy Winehouse.
Despite the amount of free booze flowing through my veins, I decided it
was best to ignore them. I had more important things to worry about, like how
was I going to get onto the trolley before them. Keeping my eye on the
prize, the trolley approached, I grabbed my partner in crime's hand.
After weaving through some cars, I ended up in front of the crowd and
gracefully landed in a front seat. Success was mine! In my head I heard
Liz Lemon saying "Suck it, nerds!"
"Wow. Those are some fucking
skills. I need to take notes from your playbook." said the tipsy
20-something guy behind me.
Before I could thank him I was
distracted by the hot mess of passengers attempting to pile onto the
already packed trolley.
"You just grabbed my dick! That's sexual
harassment." yelled a stumbling guy to the girl trying to squeeze
Lesson #7: The Bus Loop = Spring Break on a trolley.
p.m.: The trolley finally went on its way. Off to Beach Place we go, or
so we thought. First it stopped off at Tropic Cay Bar to pick up some
more loopers, not that there was really any place for them. Apparently
everyone's goal in mind was Beach Place because nobody got off at this
10:30 p.m.: Arrived at Dos Caminos. At this point
I'm not sure why we drove away from Beach Place, but it wasn't up to me
to question our route. Once again, nobody got off. Still holding out for
the bars at Beach Place. As we looped around the hotel, I looked in
front of us, A1A was gridlocked in traffic and we only had 30 minutes to
go with 3 bars left. It was sort of like being in the movie Speed,
and our trolley
driver Kim was taking no prisoners.
"Move up motherfucker!" she
yelled at the bus in front of us taking up the entire road.
me off. Let me off." chanted a few guys in the back.
more lights. Then I can stop this bus." explained Kim.
waiting for Howard Payne to appear on a screen and give us further
instructions. In front of the trolley a white Honda attempted to make an
illegal U-turn to avoid traffic. But little did the driver know that
there was a cop car just waiting to bus him. It was the only time the
entire bus was quiet as we waited patiently for the guy to get pulled
over. Minutes later the entire bus, bus driver included, cheered and
yelled as we saw the sirens and lights go on.
10:45 p.m.: Finally
made it to Cafe Del Mar. In desperate need of a drink and a restroom,
we made a pit-stop before Beach Place. I requested a wine and in return I
got some sort of bubbly drink that kind of resembled wine. But it was
free and who was I to judge at this late stage in the game? Chugged our
drinks and hurried off to Beach Place. That's the glorious thing about
Fort Lauderdale, open containers are allowed.
Lesson #8: Wine is
never wine. It's usually Arbor Mist.
10:55 p.m.: Da Big Kahuna
arrival. The security guards tried to tell me they're at capacity. But I
am not one for waiting in lines or being kept from free drinks so I
decided it was time to turn on the charm. I ignored the fake mustache
wearing dork and turned to the burly motorcycle gang member heavily tattooed
"Really? It's at capacity? But it's only two of
us...can't you please let us in?" I questioned him as I turned the charm
level to maximum and pouted my red lipped smile at him.
ok. But just you two. Let them in." as he moved out of our way.
Cue eye rolls from the blonde bimbos behind me. Once
again, success was mine. I could totally survive on Lost. Much
to my delight they were giving out free Mai-Tai and they were oh so
Lesson #9: It's good to have tattoos when dealing
with security guards.
11:15 p.m.: Looked over my card and was
pretty impressed with the amount of spots that I hit. But decided that
instead of heading down the escalator, why not find out if Soprano's
Dueling Piano bar was still honoring the free drinks.
p.m.: Check-in at Soprano's. Yes, they are still giving out free drinks
and the crowd is absolutely out of their minds at this point. On the
stage a piano player belted out hits from Journey, Bon Jovi, and other
drunk singalong favorites. But it wasn't until his rendition of "New
York, New York" that a slew of guys in cargo shorts and flip flops
organized a Rockettes style dance routine. It was finally time to call
it a night. . . well sort of.
11:45 p.m.: Discovered that Beach
Place had a photobooth and yes they do take credit cards. So before
hailing a cab we hopped inside for a little impromptu photo sesh. (It
was amusing the morning after at brunch to look at the bank statement
and wonder what "photo fantasy" is.)
Lesson #10: It's called
Fort Liquordale for a reason and the citizens are damn proud of it.
after a whirlwind night of free drinks and no driving, would I do the
Fort Lauderdale Bus Loop again? Yes. But, I would definitely start out
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