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
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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.
2. Multi-gender Bathrooms
When the Manor Complex re-opens its doors as a nightclub at 11 p.m., it still maintains some semblance of its evening persona as a restaurant. The dining areas are cleared, a smattering of patrons sip cocktails at the bars or outside lounge, and the ladies' rooms, albeit it rather tiny for such a large venue, are still a safe retreat for gals to powder their noses and pee with a bit of privacy.
By 2 a.m., it's another story. Every open area of the club has been transformed into a packed dance floor, the wait at the bar rivals that of any club on South Beach, and there's no longer such a thing as a ladies' room. Once you get through the line of designer jeans and bejeweled button down-wearing boys, squeeze past the couple of gaybies who just exited the same stall, and settle yourself between the puddles of dirty piss. These guys might be gay, but they're definitely still guys.
Walking past another of the restrooms, the door swings open to reveal two very large ladies adjusting their man junk into the crotches of their one-piece bustiers and applying gloss to their enormously pumped lips. One leggy black tranny exits and looks us up and down, the skin of her breasts pulled so tight, they look like they might explode, and says, "Keep walking, ain't no room for you in there."
1. If You Get Bored...
Just drive a few miles down the road to Downtown Fort Lauderdale, where you trade chic décor, bumping EDM music, and hot male go-go dancers for $2 PBRs, terrible Top 40s, and all the shameless and tasteless hetero attention you could ever ask for!
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