Category Archives: Your City
Cultural tourism and ballroom dance in South Florida will get an extra boost soon, courtesy of the State and one local business. VISIT FLORIDA, the state’s official public/private marketing arm for tourism, awarded a Small Business Partner marketing grant to Pompano Beach-based Beach Vacation Rentals, which is set to launch SouthFloridaDanceVacations.com on June 15, 2013.
“In our case, we will use the maximum $5,000 grant money and match it with our own dollars to help promote the huge availability of top-level ballroom and Latin dance in Pompano Beach and greater Fort Lauderdale,” said Beach Vacation Rentals president and CEO Elaine Fitzgerald, who believes this is a big, untapped niche market for tourists and business travelers. “We have a literal mecca of the finest dance venues and world champion instructors here, and we should promote it. Our area is perhaps second only to New York City with the quality and quantity of dance here. But New York City does not have a beach!”
Beach Vacation Rentals was selected from among a large number of public and private sector grant applicants during the state’s most competitive grant cycle to date. The funds will be used to help better position and market Pompano Beach and Greater Fort Lauderdale as an even more desirable destination.
“The purpose of these grants is to help local governments stretch their tourism marketing dollars in an effort to expand cultural, heritage, rural and nature tourism activities in Florida,” said Chris Thompson, VISIT FLORIDA’s immediate past president and CEO at the time the grant was awarded last year.
Fitzgerald, a dancer herself, is creating and marketing SouthFloridaDanceVacations.com to package her upscale beach-area apartments and cottages with the ultimate dance experience. Whether it’s traditional ballroom, Latin, Country Western, swing or Argentine Tango, she says visitors can have the best of all worlds. They can go sightseeing or to the beach or to business meetings in the morning, take private dance lessons in the afternoon, and choose from several social dances and group lessons each evening of their stay.
Visitors who book their stay at a Beach Vacation Rentals property will get discounts on private dance lessons and free admission to an evening social dance. If they choose to stay elsewhere, they still can use the website’s South Florida Social Dance Calendar and list of dance venues to plan their evenings out.
“In today’s business climate, I could not afford to spend $10-$20,000 to start this effort, but with the state’s help it will be a win-win for my small business, local dance instructors and venues, area restaurants, retailers and attractions, and the state,” said Fitzgerald. “I will take the time, effort and a lot of my own money to help promote a cultural activity here that has never been actively promoted, but one that has a lot of promise as a new niche tourist market.”
Beach Vacation Rentals owns and operates a collection of apartments and cottages at five award-winning Superior Small Lodgings in Pompano Beach. Tourists and business travelers can choose from fully outfitted studios, 1/1s and 2/2s for stays of three nights or longer. For more information, visit http://www.4rentbythebeach.com
Photo: Elaine Fitzgerald and her ballroom dance instructor Scott Lappin choreograph a waltz for the Goldcoast Ballroom Winter Showcase. Photo by Kathleen Mathiesen.
The five-minute rain shower did nothing to dampen the spirits of the thousands in attendance at tonight’s .38 Special concert at the Pompano Beach Seafood Festival. If anything, it added to the feeling that this was a special night, in a special place. When the drops began to fall, all manner of folk – whether decked out in their finest cowboy attire or their beachiest sundresses, and everything in between - happily ducked under the “small stage” tent.
“It’ll blow right over,” we confidently assured each other, smiling. This is the beach, after all, where the sun is almost always shining, and this is .38 Special on stage – we’re not going to let a little rain stop this party.
Sure enough, five minutes later, the clouds were gone. The band hadn’t missed a beat – what’s a little rain when you’ve been rocking the house for over 30 years?
The near-90 minute show was just great. What a class act .38 Special is – it’s great to hear a band that has contributed much of the soundtrack to so many of our lives say goodnight by saying, “Thank you all so much for letting us be a part of your lives for all these years.” And what fun it was to sing “Hold on Loosely” in unison with thousands of others, on such a happy, happy night.
Happy not just because nearly everyone had enjoyed the magnificent seafood that is, of course, the highlight of the festival, but because this felt like Pompano Beach’s true coming-out party. Yes, we had a great celebration and “grand re-opening” on April 5, but the Seafood Festival , which draws not just locals, but thousands of others from near and far, can be considered one of our annual marquee events, a decades-old tradition (this is its 29th year) that draws people who, we’d guess, don’t ever come to Pompano Beach at any other time.
Listening to the conversations of those around us confirmed this suspicion. “I’d say,” said a woman walking next to us, “that this beach is prettier than Fort Lauderdale.” “I don’t ever think to come to this beach, but now this is where I’m going to come!” said another. Our favorite: “Dude, you’ve been holding out on me! I didn’t even know this place existed!”
Ahhhhh. Finally. Thanks, .38 Special, for a great, great show. And thanks, Pompano Beach – we know that this is just the beginning of so many more great things to come.
For more photos, see our Facebook album.