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What’s with the giant tent on Fort Lauderdale beach this weekend? Why is everyone wearing pink? What are they all drinking? Why is Belkys Nerey singing Hall & Oates?
These are the kinds of good questions inspired by Seaglass: The Fort Lauderdale Rosé Experience, the newest annual destination event on the city’s oceanfront, which barely got a chance to introduce itself in 2020, taking place a few weeks before pandemic lockdowns, which then canceled last year’s return.
Ostensibly a celebration of rosé wine and the laidback beach aesthetic, Seaglass 2022 has expanded into a three-day event Friday-Sunday on the sand opposite the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort, larger and more energetic, with more food, drinks and music — including sets by irresistible party band Yacht Rock Revue.
About 3,200 guests, some flying in, most accented in shades of pink to honor the blush-colored wine of the day, are expected at Seaglass, which will direct all proceeds to AutoNation’s DRV PNK initiative for cancer research and treatment.
As an annual event, Seaglass will be a perfect fit for the calendar on Fort Lauderdale beach: It’s the Tortuga of rosé. An open-Air & Sea show for the fuchsia, the proud, the tipsy. A St. Patrick’s Day-style party, but with wearin’ o’ the magenta instead of green, and honoring St. Vincent — patron saint of winemakers, celebrated each Jan. 22.
In addition to longer hours (it was a two-day event in its debut), the party along the 500 block of North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard will happen under a bigger tent, with a larger footprint and twice as many cabanas (20) as the original, which sold out. Tickets start at $99 at SeaglassExperience.com, with early-access VIP passes and a few 10-person cabana accommodations (including a “beach butler”) also available.
The festivities will include bottomless pours from bottles by dozens of leading winemakers from around the globe and light dining provided by local celebrity chefs such as Dean Max and Steve Martorano (both on Friday), José Mendín and Taek Lee (Saturday), and Paula DaSilva (Sunday). New this year is a selection of spirits and craft beer.
“What a great way to spend a Sunday,” says Nerey, acknowledging the strength of the dining scene north of her Miami home. She says DaSilva, in particular, is one of her favorite local chefs. “Fort Lauderdale has tons of culinary talent and tons of foodie finds to offer. Little out of the way places, the same thing that’s down here in the Miami area.”
But the redefining feature of Seaglass 2022 is Yacht Rock Revue, a nationally touring band that traffics in a particular brand of irreverent nostalgia — expert musicians in period polyester (chest hair and mustaches, too) who wink at the music you hate to love from the 1970s and ‘80s while encouraging mass sing-alongs. Its fans are known as the Nation of Smooth.
A typical set might include “Baby Come Back” by Player, “I Want to Kiss You All Over” by Exile, Ambrosia’s “Biggest Part of Me” and Hall & Oates’ “Sara Smile.”
As bandleader Nick Niespodziani said in a 2020 Sun Sentinel interview before the band’s sold-out show at Revolution Live: “We make people happy for a living.”
Nerey, whose appearance aligns with Yacht Rock Revue’s 2-4 p.m. show on Sunday, is happy already.
“I love it. That is my jam. It’s going to be my Pandora come to life, basically,” Nerey says. “I live for yacht rock. I love a good Hall & Oates. I love a good Rick Springfield. I love a good REO Speedwagon. I can’t wait.”
While Yacht Rock Revue is the headliner on Sunday, they also will perform Saturday night, when all of Seaglass has been reserved for a private party. (Psst: Ask someone from Moss Construction.) Don’t be surprised if A1A pedestrian and vehicle flow gets a little tied up when the band is on — call it a blush-hour traffic jam.
Also onstage during Seaglass will be Miami band the Collektives, led by singer Tatiana Blades (niece of Rubén Blades), on Friday night and Saturday afternoon. DJ Anna de Ferran (ADF) is scheduled all three days.
Carlos Suarez, of Fort Lauderdale, created Seaglass as a celebration of the beach lifestyle he loves, but the momentum behind the party came from a new appreciation of life, style or no style, during a 2019 cancer scare.
Suarez, publisher of Fort Lauderdale-based Venice magazine, was at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota waiting for chemotherapy and radiation treatment for cancer on his left tonsil when he was inspired to action.
“I had given this event, Seaglass, some thought. I realized, I’ve got a little bit of time here — and maybe not a lot of time left — so why don’t you put some wheels in motion? I was up there for about three weeks, and I began to visualize it. I created a logo, I did a poster, and next thing you know, it all came true,” he says.
Suarez credits wife Lori for instilling in him the optimistic message he carries with him now.
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“Celebrate life. I could have taken this turn and been down and depressed and all those things you would associate with cancer, and I made a choice to be the opposite,” he says.
During Suarez’s years as creative director of one of the globe’s most fashionable lifestyle publications, Ocean Drive, the barely kept secret among the chic international crowd he ran with was that he actually lived 30 miles north of South Beach in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
Seaglass is a love letter to the city where he met his wife, is raising two daughters and that gave him his first job at the “epicenter of Fort Lauderdale,” Peaches Records & Tapes. It is a relationship that began when he first signed up for classes at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.
“I was 18, and my mom and dad drove me from south Miami to 95, east on Sunrise [Boulevard], all the way to Sunrise and A1A, and I remember almost smacking into the ocean. I looked at my mom and said, ‘I can’t believe I’m going to get to go to school in this environment,’” he says. “Fort Lauderdale has always had an incredibly special place in my heart. I just love this town.”
Seaglass: The Fort Lauderdale Rosé Experience takes place Friday-Sunday, Jan. 21-23, on the beach across the street from the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort, 505 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd. Hours: 7-10 p.m. Friday, noon-3 p.m. Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sunday (VIP gets early access each day). Call 954-873-4263 or visit SeaglassExperience.com.