Fort Lauderdale Bar Tour: Southport Raw Bar

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Night Watch is a regularly-occurring feature by Broward/Palm Beach nightlife columnist Tara Nieuwesteeg

On a recent evening in advance of the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, I decided to check out bars near the 17th Street Causeway, and ended up at the yachtie mecca, Southport Raw Bar.

It's a 1960s-style, let-it-all-hang-out kinda place, and the sign by the door reads: "Eat clams, last longer; eat fish, live longer; eat oysters, love longer." Inside were booths with fish-patterned upholstery, two bars, and a host of browned-with-age ceiling tiles that had been written upon over the years ("Bonnie's Yacht Service," read one; "Happy Birthday, Dana, 6-19-88," read another). Old-timey beer ads, small wooden surfboards, and ocean seascapes garnished the walls; the floor was covered with a worn green carpet.

Spread above the booths were a dozen or so caricatures of hot females. For example, windsurfing Pattie was illustrated with long, Cher-circa-1965-style hair and a golden complexion; clearly betrothed Kay had a blond bob and was drawn with her body wrapped around a big-ass diamond; Becky was blond with ginormous tits; don't ask me what she'd been drawn doing.

"Who are these hotties?" I asked a blond, leggy waitress, gesturing at the cartoons.
"They're the original staff of this place," she said.
"From, like, 35 years ago."
"Ah. So they don't look like that any more," I said. I imagined age pulling Becky's caricatured cleavage down to her knees.
"No," she said. "At least, I hope not."

We ventured outside to the deck area; located right along the water and in plain view of a host of white boats. Corona umbrellas covered the tables; white plastic chairs were scattered around them. We took a seat at a table next to a punk-rock couple.

"You think it's a first date?" my buddy, Fancy, whispered. "The body language implies there's a little discomfort."
"It doesn't matter," I said.
"They're going to be perfect for each other." He had a killer Mohawk; she was all leather wristbands and tattoos.

We ordered a round of beers, speculated on life and death, gazed at the half-moon, and I wondered if I'd ever own a yacht. (No.) It was pretty peaceful--at least for a moment. But suddenly, the silence was shattered--by a blonde in a short gold dress (we'll call her Goldie) and a dark-haired woman in a green dress with killer stilettos (so let's call her Spikes). I didn't have a ruler, but it's safe to speculate that the brunet's high-heels were at least four feet each.

Spikes was standing on top of the bar, bent over backward, drinking beer directly from the tap. Goldie was on top of the bar, too, holding Spikes' hand--either for moral support or to share in the spotlight. People jumped from their dates and beers to witness this spectacle of sexy swallowing. Once Spikes had had enough, she casually jumped off the bar--to review the camera-phone pictures that had been taken of her gulping (Goldie just seemed glad to be documented alongside her very thirsty friend). Beard casually suggested that I satiate my liquor-craving liver in a similar fashion, but I declined. Some of us are content drinking from a bottle, thanks very much.

-- Tara Nieuwesteeg

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