ORLANDO – One of downtown Orlando’s cornerstone spots for nightly entertainment, the Wall Street Plaza, had plenty of foot traffic on Sunday evening, as people moved from one club to the next on a mild night.
Standing there in front of the WaiTiki Lounge, Tony Edge glanced around and noted that within a few months, that block between Orange Avenue and Magnolia Street would come alive with music, food, drinks, a parade, live entertainment and so much more. His grand vision wasn’t just wishful thinking, though, but a series of carefully constructed plans for what is going to be the first massive street party organized on the same day as, and in conjunction with, Orlando’s traditional gay pride parade.
“It’s going to be an after-parade block party,” said Edge, who runs Cutting Edge Events, an Orlando-based promotional firm, and is organizing this event as part of Orlando Pride.
“It’s going to be a street party, Orlando’s largest block party,” he said. “Nobody is doing that, either. You can literally walk three blocks from the parade to the block party, and anyone 21 and up gets in free.”
Pride is always in fashion is the motto of Orlando Pride, a non-profit organization that sponsors the three day Orlando Pride event from Oct. 6-8. Edge said the block party will be held on Saturday, Oct. 8, with vendors starting to set up around noon at Wall Street Plaza, and the parade kicking off at 4 p.m. at Lake Eola. The block party starts when the party ends.
Edge is also the promoter for The Monkey Bar’s Jungle Sundays, held every Sunday from 8 p.m. on into the night at the club right above the WaiTiki Lounge. The Monkey Bar is taking part in the festivities as well.
“We’ll have a VIP section up here, and downstairs will be the totally free area,” he said. “This whole block is going to be taken over. We’re expecting a really good event because it’s a free party.”
Edge said part of his goal is to build up and promote more gay-friendly entertainment and venues in downtown Orlando, which is why he introduced Jungle Sundays to the Monkey Bar last June, bringing in good looking bartenders and go-go dancers to help entertain the patrons.
“It’s basically like a high end version of a tiki bar,” he said. “We’re more of a late night gay bar lounge.”
Edge, who also writes a fitness column for the gay magazine What’s Happening, also wants to help spread the word about other gay-owned businesses and clubs in downtown within walking distance of The Monkey Bar, to help bring more gay residents and tourists to the neighborhood.
“To me, cross-promoting helps everybody,” he said. “I want to spread the word. It’s all about bringing the community up. It’s all about helping everyone out, gay or straight.”
That’s largely what the block party is designed to do, he added.
“it’s going to be a great night,” Edge said, as he stood outside the Monkey Bar. “This is going to be the first gay block party in downtown Orlando’s history. It’s a unique opportunity, one of those things no one is doing in Orlando.”
Edge has already lined up a major sponsor for the block party: Al and Chuck Travel, one of the nation’s largest gay owned travel companies, and he’s got some entertainers scheduled to perform at the block party as well, including Alexis Mateo of “RuPaul’s Drag Race”; Tyra Sanchez of Orlando, considered the premiere drag queen and crowned the new (drag) queen online at the 365gay.com blog; and Yaria Sophia, also from “RuPaul’s Drag Race Season III.”
“It’s going to be a totally unique event to Orlando Pride,” Edge said. “It’s basically going to be a chance for thousands of people to dance in the streets.”
As the plans for the block party get finalized, Edge is also throwing himself into Jungle Sundays, which he said is bringing more people to downtown on Sunday evenings.
“It’s going amazing,” Edge said. “The nights are picking up week after week. I’ve stuck with a pretty sure formula. We have drink specials and a buffet, and we have jungle boys on the boxes.”
One of them is George, who just started working – and dancing – there on Sunday nights.
“This is my first time,” he said, as he paused a moment from swaying with the beat of the music to talk about his new gig.
“I enjoy it,” he said. “It’s fun. I dance and entertain all the customers.”
Edge hopes the entire city, gay or straight, gets in on the fun next month.
“When it comes to events, you’ve got to plan it out months in advance,” he said. “I’m doing this because I want to give back to the city of Orlando, which has given me so much.”
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