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Five Things We Learned Gay Clubbing in Wilton Manors

FastForward is a weekly column documenting the nighttime scene in Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach County. It's a weeknight stop at your neighborhood dive; it's a blurry, bass-filled Friday night in the club; it's that one moment in a conversation you hope you'll remember the next morning.

This past Saturday night, RuPaul's Drag Race star Latrice Royale, the big and beautiful runner-up two seasons back, was slated to perform at Wilton Manor's nightclub and lounge, the Manor. Although we made every effort to determine when the flamboyant, show-stopping star would take the stage (at 11:30 we were told it'd be after 2; at 2:30 we were told she'd gone on an hour earlier), we never did see the queen do her thang. And quite frankly, we're not sure anyone else was even there for Latrice.

What we did see while we wandered the Manor's honeycomb of rooms like Alice in a psychedelic wallpapered, labyrinthine Wonderland, made our trip to Fort Lauderdale's gay neighbor, Wilton Manors, at least partially worthwhile. A group of straight, twenty-something girls, all dressed up in our cutest mini-dresses and heels, we definitely came away with some new experiences.

Here are five things we learned while clubbing in Wilton Manors.

5. Welcome to the Gayborhood

If there's one thing gays are known for, it's their good taste. While Wilton Manors may not exactly have all the fresh meat -- grinding and making out up against the grime-coated walls -- of Twist or Score in South Beach, a more mature, refined strain of gay fills up the sidewalks, bars, and nightclubs of the Gayborhood. The streets and storefronts are pristine, the air inside the bars smells fresh and smoke-free, and everything just feels just a bit more high class. Still...

4. Swing City

This might come as a surprise, but for a neighborhood known to house the country's highest population of happily cohabitating gay couples, there sure were a lot of half naked, jock strap-wearing, shot-taking, booty-dancing, hungry-eyed gay men up in the club.

Were they single, swinging, or just in between relationships? It was hard to tell. One thing's for sure, though: There's certainly no shortage of bears, otters, twinks, twunks, lipsticks, trannies, and everything else under the rainbow getting their drink on and raging at the Manor on a Saturday night.

3. Women: Not Welcome

Apart from the shirtless, chiseled bartender who claimed to be "100 percent straight" as he shamelessly hit on my friend, the reception of women in da club in Wilton Manors could be described as less than tepid.

Parting the sea of hot, dancing buff men sweating it out on the dance floor, we entered the back patio. It was impossible to not sense the burning sensation of unwelcomed otherness as the guys twirled around and stopped mid-fist pump to give us the up and down, shaking their heads and pursing their lips before returning their attention to their mans.

We may not have gotten ice thrown at us (yes, this once happened to us at a crowded Buck 15 gay night), but any attention we did receive ranged from casual indifference to all out mockery. The go-go dancers and drag queens at the Manor may make for a fabulous spectacle on a girls' night out, but unless you're prepared to drop a couple Benjamins on a table with bottles, don't expect speedy (or very friendly) drink service as a lady. Fair warning to bachelorette parties of Broward, bring your estrogen elsewhere.

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Falyn Freyman is a freelance multimedia journalist based in Miami. She previously produced videos for Univision and edited music content for New Times Broward-Palm Beach. Her work has been featured in Vice, Bustle, Broadly, Time Out, and other publications. She has a master's degree from the Columbia School of Journalism.
Contact: Falyn Freyman

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