BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
The sweltering South Beach summer — a perfect time for the gays to strip down and hold a poolside fundraiser called SummerFest.
“Everybody loves a pool party, especially a pool party filled with gorgeous guys and skimpy, delicious bathing suits. I know what I’d be looking for,” said Thomas Barker, co-publisher of Wire Magazine in South Florida, who started SummerFest four years ago.
SummerFest is more than a single pool party. This year’s events also include all-night bashes at Lincoln Road’s MOVA Lounge and Score; a Sunday brunch at the Lords South Beach resort; and midday tea dance with drag queens at The Palace on Ocean Drive.
About 1,000 men and women participated in 2010 SummerFest events, said Rafa Carvajal, owner and co-publisher of the Wire and owner of Pink Dollar Enterprises, a company co-producing the weekend with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which benefits from SummerFest.
“Last year, the Task Force made about $10,000,” said Michael Bath, the national organization’s Miami special events manager. “When the Wire came to us and gave us the opportunity to partner with them, we loved it. We tried to expand the market a little bit this year. We did some promotion at Gay Days [in Orlando].”
Bath described the Task Force as “a very bare-boned organization” and said that “$10,000 can really go a pretty far way with us in terms of training and education.”
Each year, the Task Force also presents Miami Beach’s Winter Party Festival and fall Recognition Dinner, which benefit South Florida gay organizations through the Miami Foundation’s GLBT Community Projects Fund. Grant recipients have included the Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival, Miami Beach Gay Pride and Pridelines Youth Services.
“It’s always great when you can get people together to have fun and support a worthwhile, local-giving organization such as the Task Force,” said Tim Nardi, general manager of the Shore Club. “It’s one of those local organizations the community really gets behind. That’s who South Beach is. It’s really about friends getting together and supporting our community. The whole weekend is going to be packed. It’s just a whole weekend of supporting the community and having fun.”
SummerFest began four years ago with a few small parties and a South Beach bar crawl.
“It has really grown from the previous ones to a full line-up of events,” Carvajal said. “The goal this year is to have events that appeal to everyone. This year is a much broader audience. We promoted the event nationally and did cable advertising for the first time. [We’re expecting] visitors from outside South Florida, South Florida residents who live a little farther north and Miami residents who live in town.”
Celebrity DJs will be Miik and Charlie Rojas at the big Shore Club pool party on Saturday afternoon; and Rafael Calvente of Brazil at Score on Saturday night.
Barker, Carvajal’s business partner, gave another good reason to attend: “It’s summer, and there’s nothing else to do.”
IF YOU GO
SummerFest runs Friday through Sunday at various venues on South Beach. For updated event details and ticket prices, visit www.summerfestmiami.com