It wasn’t until the evening of my first day—while sitting in a bar in the impossibly swank Ritz-Carlton lobby—that I finally figured South Beach out. Until then, I’d thought that subset of Miami was only a paradise of people-watching—of hotties in barely-there swimwear, of glamorous types sleeping off hangovers under pastel umbrellas, of visitors of unknown origin dancing to oonce-oonce music. I thought it was a place to gaze at all manner of humanity parading past on hoverboards, motorized bikes, skateboards and rollerblades. To watch videos being filmed, ice-cold coconuts bought and sold, sand volleyball and soccer played, Bentleys and Lamborghinis and party buses gliding by. To go to Miami, I thought, was to witness CrossFit freaks, parrots, druggies, drag queens, twerkers and flesh, everywhere flesh. 

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