At the end of January, my husband and I traveled to South Beach for a couple of weeks to warm up and enjoy the art and other cultural happenings there. We stayed in the Mercury Hotel at the southern end of the beach, thinking it would be a quiet area. When we walked out to the beach the first morning, we noticed some serious construction of tents and what looked like news studios. Since we’d just arrived, we were more interested in seeing the ocean than finding out what was going on. By the third day, we learned it was FOX TV getting ready for a Super Bowl celebration. The preparations covered ten city blocks. Was Miami playing in the game this year?
We went about our business, exploring museums in Miami, admiring street art in the Wynwood area, and relaxing on the beach. The surfers, lemon sharks, and Cuban restaurants captured our interest.
The activity in our quiet neighborhood continued to increase in decibels, as a high-end restaurant under our window served lively crowds. By then, it was the night before the Super Bowl. Our hotel fire alarm went off at 2:45 a.m. We were up and out, expecting the streets to be empty. Instead, a crowd of millennials were waiting to get into the Story Nightclub next door. At least a hundred hopeful club-goers stood in line. Across the street, Big Pink, an American fare restaurant, was hopping when we went in to get out of the cold. It closes at 5 a.m. Who knew all this was going on?
No fire, so we returned to dreamland.
By now we knew the Super Bowl was at the Hard Rock Stadium, twenty-five minutes away, and that Kansas City and San Francisco were playing. We thought the game started at 8 p.m. and planned to escape to a special dinner at the Betsy Hotel. We’d gone from curiosity about all the hubbub to maximum saturation in two weeks. At 6:00, our UBER driver informed us that kick-off was at 6:30. After a moment of panic, we assured ourselves that the Betsy was a safe haven. We arrived just in time to see a big-screen TV rolled into the dining room.
At first, we tried to ignore the mammoth entertainment center in front of us. Then, accepting our fate, we settled into a delicious dinner and watched the first half of the game. I even started rooting for San Francisco because we got married there. We learned that touchdowns are worth 6 points, not 7, as the extra point requires a successful kick. On our walk home — most of the streets were closed off — we saw big screens installed everywhere: on porches, sidewalks, in front of convenience stores. Joining in the celebration enhanced our trip, although watching another football game is probably not in our future.
We’re definitely going back to South Beach next year to again reach beyond our comfort zone. The Super Bowl will be someplace else, but the Story Nightclub has possibilities.