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Gay Block: Love, South Beach in the 80s


Miami, 1982: the peace and quiet of a retirement community, its residents dapper in their colorful swimwear. The beaches are deserted except for a few men and women in their eighties, arms outstretched, legs spread, staying fit under the Florida sun. Small white buildings a few stories high blend in with the blue sky and water. We are far from the Miami of today, where wealthy young show-offs blare their music down the beach at all hours. Gay Block was able to capture Miami South Beach before it was washed away by the early 1980s, back when it was still a sunny patch of heaven where everyone was welcome. During her first trip there, Block made friends with the elderly who lived modestly but happily on the seaside as if it were a fountain of youth. They bathe wearing irrepressible smiles and outlandish outfits with explosive, disorienting patterns of checks, stripes and plaid. Gay Block’s photographs are bursting with the infectious joie de vivre of a long-lost Miami.

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