When Ian Smith planned a getaway for a group of 22 friends to Miami Beach five years ago, he never imagined the trip would grow into one of the most popular annual events among gay men and women of color.
This weekend, more than 400 people will join Smith and his friends for a celebration of culture, fashion and, yes, partying, called Miami Beach Bruthaz.
“It all started when I planned a weekend trip for a few friends,” recalls Smith, 40, a resident of the Tampa area. “We were going to have a nice relaxing weekend but it became so much more.”
Author JL King had just released a new book and Smith invited him to lead a discussion about issues in the gay community at that first gathering. An informal fashion show was also organized and soon Smith was planning an annual event.
“Even from the first year, people were making connections, friendships that became relationships that continued throughout the year,” says Smith.
Miami Beach Bruthaz attracts participants from across the United States and Canada, as well as Brazil, Honduras and even Sweden. And, Smith adds, the participants tend to be aged 35 and older, “a more intimate and mature event than the traditional circuit party.”
Highlighting the growing international flavor to Miami Beach Bruthaz, the weekend will feature a Brazilian-themed party at Score nightclub on Saturday night featuring Sao Paolo DJ Rodolfo Bravat.
“The Bruthaz concept is definitely embracing all groups,” Smith says.
In addition to the social events, fashion shows and workshops, this year Smith and his volunteers have added a jazz segment on Sunday featuring musicians and spoken word artists, which he says is “a nice cool down at the end of the weekend.”
Miami Beach Bruthaz kicks off with the Welcome White Party on Thursday, July 13 at Bar 721, 721 Lincoln Lane. DJ Gavin will be in the booth and the host for the party will be Jensen Atwood, accompanied by hot go-go boys.
On Friday afternoon, LGBT authors and Rev. Tommie Watkins will lead a dialogue at the Brothaz SpeakUP!, a luncheon from noon to 2 p.m. at Prime 112 Steakouse, 112 Ocean Dr. Jensen Atwood will also be on hand.
Actor and R&B singer Terrell Carter (“Madea’s Family Reunion” and “Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman”) will headline Friday’s main event, a fashion show and after party beginning at 9 p.m. at Gemma Lounge, 529 Lincoln Rd. Underwear and swimwear from Mundo Unico, Frank Dandy and Boyrio will be displayed on hot models.
The party heats up poolside at the Lords South Beach, 1120 Collins Ave., on Saturday from 2 p.m to 6 p.m. DJ Platinum will provide the music while the boys splish splash the afternoon away.
Miami Beach Bruthaz adopts a Latin beat Saturday night for the e-Joy dance party featuring Brazilian DJ Rodolfo Bravat at Score, 727 Lincoln Rd. The party starts at 11 p.m., but expect the action to continue well into the morning hours at the popular dance club.
The weekend concludes with cool jazz on Sunday back at Bar 721 with performances by Miami saxophonist Jon Saxx and vocalist Mareyl Epps. Spoken word artist Rebecca “Butterfly” Vaughns rounds out the entertainment at Soul Lounge, with performances beginning at 9 p.m.
Individual tickets and weekend packages are still available for all Miami Beach Bruthaz events. Visit MiamiBeachBruthaz.com for more information and tickets.