It’s been more than 50 years since the Connie Francis movie, “Where the Boys Are,” that established Fort Lauderdale as the spring break destination for a generation, a reputation the city fought for many years to come.
But, when it comes to bears, Fort Lauderdale is definitely the place to party and this time around, the city’s convention and visitors bureau is welcoming the association.
Each spring, thousands of hairy gay men — and the guys who like them — converge on Fort Lauderdale Beach for Beach Bear Weekend. The area’s guesthouses, as well as the Wilton Manors entertainment district, are especially busy in early- to mid-May with associated tea dances, restaurant crawls and dance parties.
But, with a large local population, every weekend can be a celebration of the bear culture. Fridays are a particularly popular night, as bears traditionally converge on Bill’s Filling Station, 2209 Wilton Dr., for happy hour and later, Growl, the bear appreciation party.
Bears can also be found in numbers at Village Pub, 2283 Wilton Dr., on Sundays for the Retro T-Dance from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and especially on the last Sunday of the month for Menergy, featuring DJ Bill Hallquist and the bar’s popular $10 beer bust.
Unlike in other cities, bears are hardly an endangered species, roaming freely at nightlife destinations across the area. Local bears can also be frequently sighted at the Cubby Hole, 823 N. Federal Hwy. in Fort Lauderdale; Scandals, 3073 NE 6th Ave. in Wilton Manors; and Tropics, 2000 Wilton Dr. in Wilton Manors.