On the first Sunday of every month residents of greater Broward County gather for an event like no other–The SunTrust Jazz Brunch in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Why is this event like no other? Because I cannot think of a single event that I’d want to sit through in the scorching midday heat that doesn’t involve sports or the heavy consumption of alcoholic beverages. Don’t get me wrong, people do drink at Jazz Brunch. However, given the extremely warm South Florida temperatures, I’ll take my intoxicated Sunday brunch inside, thanks.
The lawn of the Esplanade (park across from the Museum of Science & Discovery) becomes so packed that the event quickly consumes the entire area from the Performing Arts Center all the way to the railroad tracks. In addition to the sounds of soft, poppy jazz tunes (I’ll get to that shortly), the Jazz Brunch soundtrack comes complete with crying babies, barking dogs, and the occasional interrupting train, which in comparison to a 5-year old screaming, is actually quite pleasant. On the City of Fort Lauderdale’s website, on the Special Events page, it mentions that “everyone is welcome to attend, including well-behaved, leashed pets.” Obviously this is not a rule that is abided by. Leashed? Yes. Well-behaved? Tell that to the woman pushing the yapping Shih Tzu in a Louis Vuitton stroller.
Now on to the music. I’d hate to criticize bands that display any sort of musical talent, or bands that are willing to play for free for the agglomeration of Fort Lauderdale’s masses, but when I think of jazz, what is playing at Jazz Brunch is not it. Give me Duke Ellington’s toe-tapping piano scores or Ella Fitzgerald’s impeccably captivating vocals, not “Help! I’m stuck in the elevator at Dillards!” Instead you get music I’d like to classify as post-modern pop jazz and cover bands. Granted there are many types of jazz, come Sunday morning, headache in full force, the last thing I want to do is listen to R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
As much as I do not enjoy Jazz Brunch, Fort Lauderdalians flock to the Esplanade to hear those ever-so-cliché tunes once a month and in large numbers. The masses bring coolers – the drink of choice: Mimosas. Mix a perfect bubbly concoction of your finest Andre Champagne with OJ and sit back, relax, and… sweat. Unless you find yourself at Jazz Brunch on one of the rare mild-weathered days in South Florida, expect to lose ten percent of your body weight in perspiration. You’ll find your frail sweat-soaked body flocking to the shady ‘wooded’ area in the park only to discover that everybody else had the same idea. This is the time when you suddenly become thankful that several downtown bars are open at one o’clock.
Don’t take my word for it and check out Jazz Brunch for yourself this Sunday. I do give props to SunTrust and the City of Fort Lauderdale for putting on a free event where the community can come together and at least make good use of one of the downtown parks, even if only for a short time each month. Pack your cooler, grab one of those cheap little battery-operated fans, and go immerse yourself in Fort Lauderdale’s family-oriented booze-saturated Jazz Brunch.
Sunday, August 1st
11:00 am to 2:00 pm