If you live in or around Ft. Lauderdale and are not in a twelve-step recovery program, you need to attend a Bus Loop.
The Bus Loop happens to be the way the town does a pub-crawl. Several times throughout the year the charitable organization that runs the event lines up ten to twelve venues to visit. When the distance between watering holes gets too far to walk, then a trolley bus will roll up to make you feel like you are being chauffeured by Mr. Rogers.
For a nominal price of $20 if you prepay and $30 to $35 at the door, one can indulge in a drink at some of the trendiest clubs and crappiest dives. Proceeds benefit local organizations such as Jack + Jill Children’s Center, so the guilt will be less than the hangover. Parking may run around $5-$7 depending on when and where the check-in happens to be.
Keep about $10 (in singles) handy for tips as you go. Once checked in, you will be given a bracelet to get you on the busses and a scorecard to earn you your libations.
This recent January the Ft. Lauderdale Bus Loop featured stops around The Riverwalk District, Las Olas Boulevard, and one stop on A1A on the beach. Past loops circulated partyers around the Beach Place and various stops along the water. The great thing about the event is that new venues pop up and replace others. Try to catch a Loop when Southport Raw Bar shows up on the list. They offer conk fritter appetizers that are excellent.
I appreciate the option to drink and move on when the bars get too crowded. If you want to stay and imbibe, feel free. Keep in mind that, as Spider-Man says, everyone gets one. After that, you move or keep paying.
The January Loop suffered from three key setbacks: 1) none of the venues had food, 2) two of the stops didn’t even open until ten, so no drink flowed from them, and 3) the busses did not run well.
Sure, the organizers had huge coach busses with great air conditioning and comfy seats. BUT the delay on waiting for the busses had revelers stopped on Las Olas Boulevard for close to a half hour. Thankfully the Jazz Festival entertained queued souls with great riffs.
And to Copa Cabana Café and America’s Backyard, you owe me a beer.
Check out The Ft. Lauderdale Bus Loop for a good night of exploring clubs that you wouldn’t ordinarily patronize. I did find it funny to be hanging out in the ultra swanky club Vibe with all its exotic cars and people trying to look trendy as I slugged the ‘preferred drink’ and posed by the fire sculpture.
There are also some other locations for those crawls, including Boca and Deerfield Beach. Be sure to have a designated driver because the drinks can pack a roundhouse. For no charge, Red Cap offers a ride for those in need.
And keep rising from the graves of ignorance, my Zombies.