Miami Beach’s legendary Palace Bar & Grill bites the dust, last gay venue on Ocean Drive

May 04, 2017

Palace Bar and Grill, the legendary drag bar on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach simply known as The Palace, is closing. According to the bar’s owners, the hotel that has housed The Palace for 29 years, famously perched on the corner of 12th Street and Ocean Drive, is going to be renovated; the process will take months, but locals know “months” really means “possibly over a year,” thanks to the unpredictable nature of South Florida construction workers, as well as those permit offices run by South Florida government. Translation: getting anything done in Miami takes forever. The Palace folks don’t want to wait for this process, so they are moving out.

Although the bar’s owners said they want to move to a new location on Ocean Drive, and they are using this as an “opportunity to grow,” there are no plans for their next step. Reinventing The Palace will be a challenge, as the bar’s essence is their spot on that corner, by the Versace mansion, where tourists wander by and stop to gawk at the antics of the drag queens performing on the sidewalk.

The spectacle is one of the most popular attractions in South Beach, and no visit to the city is complete without seeing performers like Tiffany Fantasia, TP Lords or Noel Leon cause a ruckus as they run up and down the sidewalk and occasionally into the street to dance in and out of traffic. RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant Latrice Royale was a mainstay for several years at The Palace, where she twirled in high heels beneath the South Florda sun.

The LGBTQ scene in the Miami area has drastically shrunk over the years, with most of the community’s nightlife and retail either moving to Fort Lauderdale or simply closing, a result of skyrocketing rent. But The Palace fought the escalating costs, as well as an unfortunate increase of Spring Break party crowds in South Beach, and remained the only business on Ocean Drive that still caters to the LGBTQ community. Its location on 12th St. inspired the demarcation of the gay beach; the bar draws hordes of shirtless beach boys to have drinks after they have spent a day on the sand. The city even painted the crosswalks at 12th Street in rainbow colors.

The LGBTQ party scene in the Miami area will continue, thanks to major events like Winter Party bringing in huge crowds, but this is still terrible news for South Beach.

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12 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Miami is a turd!

  2. Anonymous

    As any good drag queen would say, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”

  3. Anonymous

    While drag may be fun to watch, it’s a form of narcissism that detracts from male homosexuality. It’s a side-show, basically.

    Homosexual men’s bars have been hijacked by women and by men-who-want -to-look-like-women. It’s taken gender de-segregation to an extreme, reducing dramatically the number of venues where men can simply mix and bond with other men without the interfering dynamics of real or fake females.

    This is why it’s getting harder to be a male homosexual in America.

  4. Anonymous

    There is no “South Florida government”; there is the City of Miami Beach Code Compliance and the building is under a preservation act, so the exterior cannot be changed. Workers are flaky is you are not using a reputable contractor who has his own teams; it’s the fly-by-nights who use day workers that are flaky.

    The gays have largely left Miami Beach that has been invaded by Middle America for the last 10 years and, increasingly, hip-hop and rap enthusiasts who are largely homophobic.

    The rents have increased so much that only well-financed national chains now predominate in Miami Beach, that has “jumped the shark” in the last 10 years.

  5. Anonymous

    Very sad to see this. The Palace is/was an institution, and South will never be the same.

  6. Anonymous

    South Beach is no longer the gay mecca it was 15- 20 years ago.

  7. Anonymous

    FT. LAUDERDALE is where its at for The Gays!!!

  8. Anonymous

    South beach is dead. It’s become unsafe for gay men and the town quickly forgets who brought this area back from he dead. Thievery, muggings and gay bashing are the norm here and it’s becoming a war zone. Maybe this is a good thing. Get us out of south beach and some place safer.

  9. Anonymous

    To the reward below who said this is a problem with male homosexuals I America’s. Get a clue, these types of clubs support a certain side of gay makes who like the performance one or two days a week. It also brings straights and gays alike together usually in a positive way. The problem is with the American gay mindframe and the lack of more butch or sporty gay bars. Plus the hyper dominate stereotype of gay culture in the press.

  10. Anonymous

    All these myths about South Beach no longer being gay is BS!
    All data shows an increase in gays. Just 2 years ago, the VO of Grindr reported 100,000 members in Miami Dade and 30000 members in Broward! Miami Beach Gay Pride draws 135,000 to Ft . Laud’s high of 40,000.
    The South Beach Zip Code of 33139 has the 3rd highest number of gays living with HIV still living there of all zip codes in the US.
    Memberships on both Grindr & Scruff are higher in a 1 mile radius of
    33139 than they are in Wilton Manors!
    Plus, the Census report from 2011-2015 shows more single men moving into 33139 over single women, making it the 2nd highest in the US.
    Those are facts, not myths!

  11. Anonymous

    Palace didn’t “Bite the dust”. It isn’t some failure of a business that couldn’t adapt and died because of poor management, and it is not some new mom and pop endeavor that couldn’t find funding and quickly closed thus “biting the dust”. The fact of the matter is that we have to move. The building was sold, and we need to grow and we need to build something even better for the community. Even before we asked for the communities help, there were a fantastic amount of venues ready to give Palace a home. Just because we haven’t disclosed our next step to the entire world does not mean “there are no plans for their next step”.
    Perhaps GayCities should have reached out for comment or even an interview with the Owner, the GM, or even the Marketing Director, and they’d have a better understanding of what is to come.

  12. Anonymous

    I remember going to south beach in the mid to late 90s, to the Warsaw Ballroom, The Kremlin and the other gay clubs in the area. Times change… Nothing lasts forever.