BY EMELINA MINERO
Since its inception in 1999 as a one-night charity event, Aqua Girl — the party for a cause — has evolved into the largest charity-focused women’s week in the country. Miami-based Aqua Girl is now one of the hottest queer women’s festivals in the country — literally — as party-goers can expect temps into the high 80s.
More than a festival, Aqua Girl donates 100 percent of proceeds to Aqua Foundation for Women, a nonprofit that focuses on wellness and equality for lesbian, bisexual and transgender women in South Florida.
This year’s May 14-18 event marks Aqua Girl’s 15th anniversary and organizers kicked off this special year with a pre-event VIP cocktail reception hosted at a glamorous private home in Fort Lauderdale on May 10. The reception featured a performance by ES OH, a cameo by “Orange Is the New Black‘s” Dascha Polanco and an award ceremony which honored volunteers and community leaders.
Aqua Girl officially gets underway on Wednesday, May 14, with speed dating and a wine and cheese reception in Miami Beach from 7-10p.m. Although they’re two separate events, don’t worry ladies, you can split your time between the two, hang out with your friends, make some new friends and possibly leave with a date to the kick-off dance event, Traffic Jam.
If you don’t meet your match while speed dating, Traffic Jam is set up to help the single ladies. Colored glow necklaces are handed out: red means she’s taken, yellow means approach with caution and green means she’s single and ready to mingle.
With the Aqua Foundation for Women promoting wellness, it’s no surprise that Aqua Girl is offering morning yoga at 9a.m. on Friday, May 16, for free. Yoga is a great way to start your day before you head over to The National Hotel at noon for the pool party hosted by professional mixed martial artist (MMA) and out bisexual Jessica Aguilar.
If you want a more casual place to meet up with your friends for a drink and conversation before the night heats up, there’s a happy hour at The Catalina at 4p.m. and the Miami VIP cocktail reception at 7p.m. at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden with appetizers made by out chef Robyn Almodovar from “Hell’s Kitchen.”
For fans of “The Real L Word,” Rose Garcia, Romi Klinger and Kiyomi McCloskey of Hunter Valentine will be at Friday night’s Fuego dance party, which starts at 10p.m. You can expect the Latin flavors that Miami is known for with a mix of Latin music blended with top 40 hits, 80s and 90s from DJ Tatiana and a mix of house, hip-hop, salsa, merengue and reggae from DJ Citizen Jane. If you go to Fuego, you’ll also be privy to a special surprise performance that will be announced the night-of.
Saturday, May 17, features free yoga again at The National Hotel, the host venue for the Aqualicious Pool Party at 11a.m. The party will be filled with thousands of queer women, cocktails, go-go dancers, DJs and Romi and Rose of “The Real L Word” will be available for hang time.
Saturday night is packed with music, starting with Aqua Girl’s first ever #aquaSOUNDS concert from 7-10p.m. at Grand Central. Seven local bands will rock out, getting you revved up for headliner Beverly McClellan from “The Voice.” All proceeds from the concert will go to Aqua Foundation for Women’s LGBTQ Youth Homelessness Initiative.
Following the concert, the infamous Temptation dance party will continue at Grand Central at 11p.m. International DJ Theresa, who was named Best Female DJ by EDGE, will be spinning tunes all night, and Romi and Rose from “The Real L Word” will also be in attendance.
Another opportunity to take in the sun, and a gorgeous view of thousands of beautiful women, will be the Beach House Pool Party and Tea Dance which runs from 11a.m. to 7p.m. at The National Hotel. Professional MMA fighter Aguilar will be hosting the pool party again and DJ Zehno, Laura D and Jenni Fox will be doing their part to have you dancing throughout the day.
If you want to start your day on a more chill note, the Aqua Brunch is from 11a.m. to 2p.m. at the Riviera Hotel. It’s the perfect setting to unwind on your last day and another opportunity to better acquaint yourself with your new friends or that cute girl you’ve had your eye on all week.
After the pool party, head on over to Score. From 7-10p.m. you can show off your vocals and stage presence, and perhaps impress a special someone, with karaoke. The closing dance party, Afterglow, will also be at Score. This finale event will be your last chance to make the most of your five-day, hot and steamy, women-who-love women event.