Ambling around in your shorts on an average day in South Beach already makes you feel like a cellulite-ridden whale. Well, thunder-thighs, get ready to feel even worse about your slothful self when the Miami Beach Sports and Fitness Festival comes to town for the next four days and transforms Ocean Drive from Seventh to Ninth Streets into an interactive sports village. Spinning and aerobics instructors and other fitness specialists will whip you into shape with kickboxing, capoeira, African dance, martial arts, yoga, gospel aerobic, and aqua aerobic classes. If you're into individual pursuits, you can pump iron with the bodybuilders (including Ronnie Coleman, Mr. Olympia 1998) at Muscle Beach, inspired by Venice California's sandy workout area; roll around the 10,000-square-foot inline skating rink; or run a scenic one-mile road race. The truly lazy will be entertained, too: You can stand around ogling models from twelve top agencies, who'll be competing in a charity volleyball tournament. The fest takes place from noon to 10:00 p.m. each day. Twelve dollars gets you in all four days. Call 561-790-6419.
Pulleys, ramps, harnesses, ropes, trampolines, trusses. A few choice items found in the closet of the Marquis de Sade? Perhaps. But also the implements employed by Ringside, innovative dancer-choreographer Elizabeth Streb's fourteen-year-old, eight-member company that's more Flying Wallendas than American Ballet Theater. A typical performance showcases what Streb calls "pop action." Art and physics converge as athletic dancers float above the stage, roll around the floor, hurl themselves from scaffolds, and slam into walls. Ouch! The aural accompaniment to the gymnastics is not music but grunts, groans, and the occasional shout. Now that's entertainment! Miami Light Project presents the program STREB tonight and tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. at the Colony Theater, 1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $20. After tomorrow's performance meet Streb and cohorts at a free reception at Books & Books, 933 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Call 305-576-4350.
Continuing the pop theme, Pop-art icon Peter Max visits Bal Harbour Gallery (9700 Collins Ave., level 2, Bal Harbour) tonight from 6:00 to 8:00 for a reception in honor of a retrospective of his colorful work. The artist who made his mark in the Sixties with his vibrant psychedelic creations, which often featured stars, planets, rainbows, and flowers, had a little trouble with the taxman recently, but has managed to keep his career afloat. His most recent feat: Painting 21 portraits of Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura. Admission is free. The exhibition continues through April 11. Call 305-864-5800.
Why sweat up a storm raising money on those charity walkathons when you can cool off in the ocean while rustling up bucks too at Miami Beach Swim for Life? Special guest Bruce Hayes, gold-medal winner in the 1984 Olympics, will lead the one-mile open water timed swim, which benefits the South Beach AIDS Project and The Cancer Lifeline of Mount Sinai Medical Center Breast Center. Registration begins at 9:00 a.m. and the swim begins at 10:00 a.m. You must collect a $100 minimum pledge to participate. After the event a free awards luncheon for swimmers, sponsors, and volunteers will take place at the Oceanfront Auditorium (1001 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach). Later that evening the Miami Beach Botanical Garden (2000 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach) hosts the black-tie Celebration of Swim for Life Gala, featuring cocktails, a light buffet, and music by DJ Jody McDonald. Tickets for the gala cost $50 in advance and $60 at the door. Call 305-573-6477.
Just a few short years ago impish presidential senior adviser George Stephanopoulos was vociferously defending his then-boss Bill Clinton from big-mouthed traitors like Dick Morris. But once George left the White House, signed on as a pundit with ABC News, and got a three-million-dollar advance for his book, All Too Human: A Political Education, everything changed. Since then Stephanopoulos hasn't said one positive thing about the commander in chief. Guess you can't really blame the guy: If we were the last ones to find out that our boss and his nubile young intern had "fooled around" in our office, we'd be kind of pissed too. The horror! Books & Books sponsors a reading by Benedict Arnold, er, Stephanopoulos at Temple Judea (5500 Granada Blvd., Coral Gables) at 7:00 tonight. Admission is limited to those holding tickets, two of which are available with the $27.95 purchase of his book. Call 305-442-4408 and whine a la Stephanopoulos.
One of the world's foremost figures in the field of Jewish studies, Daniel J. Elazar is author of the Covenant as the Basis of Jewish Political Thought and the benchmark tome on the American Jewish community, Community and Polity. Research professor of political science at Pennsylvania's Temple University, professor of political studies emeritus at Israel's Bar-Ilan University, and president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Elazar is also visiting eminent scholar in religious studies at FIU this spring. Tonight at 7:30 in the Graham Center Ballroom at FIU University Park (SW Eighth Street and 107th Avenue), he'll deliver the lecture "From Hierarchy to Patriarchy to Covenant in the Bible." Admission is free. Call 305-348-2186.
Gypsy traditions from Europe and the Middle East will be showcased at 8:00 p.m. at the Colony Theater (1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach) when the Gypsy Caravan arrives courtesy of MDCC Wolfson Campus's Cultura del Lobo Performing Arts Series. The dynamic festival-like event features more than 30 musicians and dancers (known more accurately as the Roma) from India, Bulgaria, Romania, Russia, Hungary, and Spain. Tickets range from $12 to $20. Call 305-674-1026
The four-time Tony Award-winning musical Bring in 'Da Funk, Bring in 'Da Noise celebrates the history of tap and the beat at the Jackie Gleason Theater of the Performing Arts (1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach) tonight at 8:00 p.m. Other performances take place at 8:00 p.m. tomorrow through Saturday, 7:00 p.m. Sunday, with 2:00 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday. The show runs through April 4. Tickets range from $28 to $48. Call 305-673-7300.
About once every two to three years a blue moon (two full moons during the same month) occurs. But it's only about every 30 to 40 years that two blue moons come around in the same year. In case you've been living in a cave, 1999 is one of them. The first blue moon was in January; now we're getting the second one. To commemorate the phenomenon Chris Rollins, director of Fruit and Spice Park (24801 SW 187th Ave., Homestead), takes you on a Once in a Blue Moon Stroll through the park's grounds at 6:00 tonight. The Southern Cross Astronomical Society will provide a telescope for your viewing pleasure and refreshments will be served afterward. Admission is ten dollars. Space is limited, so call 305-247-5727 for reservations.