Counter Corner has been a staple of Miami's queer community for more than two years. The third Sunday of every month at the Corner, the party constantly spilled into the streets like beer from a tipsy reveler's cup. That was reason enough for its organizers — Sleeper, Juleisy, and Karla — to think about expanding. Now the team has moved the event to the nearby venue 1306. And that's not the only change.
There were many reasons for the move, Josue Garcia (AKA Karla) explains, but mostly, the team was listening to its audience. Just a few days before the new location debut, Karla and Sleeper both joked about attendees who complained about waiting in a long line for the bathroom and not being able to see the event's performances.
"It's a good problem to have to be too big," Garcia says. "And we were scared about the move, but everyone has been so excited."
Sleeper elaborates, "We tried to make it work with Corner, but everything just worked out between the two places. It was such an easy transition because everyone is friends."
The Corner helped facilitate the move from the smaller bar to 1306. So what can attendees expect now? Eight bathrooms, three bars, a stage that's raised enough for everyone to see the party's drag shows in a wide space, seating, and a dance floor in the same space, plus free drinks for guests 21 and over. Anyone 18 or older can attend.
The two won't reveal what surprises are in store, but they emphasize timeliness with performances, beginning at 11, when they'll also begin serving complimentary Absolut Elyx cocktails during a happy hour of sorts.
"It's gonna be lit in every sense," Sleeper jokes.
"Like, there's actually lighting," Garcia adds, cutting him off.
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Midnight Thrift, Porn Nails, and FreakJawn will make appearances this Sunday as special vendors. Also expect beats by DJ Zehno and photos by RADskillZ Photography. But the real highlight of the evening will be more than a dozen performances by a massive collection of queens. According to 1306's website, Kunst, Miss Toto, Jackie Jae, Persephone Von Lips, Delishez Lii, A.Carrie, Queef Latina, Andro Gin, Mthr Trsa, Candi Dixxx, Stephanie Cockroach, Jupiter Velvet, Neptune Angel, Opal Am Rah, Ded Cooter, and Kelly Razzberry will perform. And that's not even counting the after-hours shows by House of Kunt's La Donna Sucia, Dasha Sweetwater, and Neon Miller.
"Something that was important to us was keeping it in this neighborhood," Sleeper says. "We don't want to go to South Beach."
"Where it becomes a tourist trap," Garcia adds. "It's not what we're looking for. We're looking for an all-inclusive event where everyone can come be free and express yourself to the best ability of who you are.
"What we've done with Counter Corner is create a space where it's not like South Beach, where you walk in and it's all muscle jocks," Garcia continues. "It's great to look at, but I want something that's real, someone who looks like I actually want to make out with. People who you want to be intellectual with and get involved with."
And though the move seems big, there's also a lot of familiarity. The same organizers are planning it, it has the same name, plenty of queens who have performed before are back for more, and even many of the folks who have worked at the parties will still be around. Kesiah Wattley, who originally worked with Sleeper in getting the party together but had since left the event, will be back and bartending alongside others.
Two years ago, when Counter Culture started, "there was no queer anything in Miami," Sleeper remembers. "You would go to whatever gay thing was happening and there was no one that looked like you or shared similar interests. You didn't feel like you fit in."
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"And that's how Juleisy y Karla started. It was because we didn't fit in anywhere and we got kicked out of places. We created our own world," Garcia says of his act with Gio Profera, AKA Juleisy. "It's bigger than just a party now. We're understanding with the queer community and embrace the fact that young people need a safe space and people don't have a ton of money."
Many of the popular queens of Miami, as well as performers who travel to Miami from cities nationwide, made their debut at Counter Corner. Its organizers hope to continue inspiring more new talent while also highlighting many of the queens who have their own regular gigs and are booked elsewhere.
"The community is growing outside of it, but these girls are all a part of our family," Garcia says. "There's a lot of love, and we're fortunate to have all this strong support from people who come out every month and put on a fucking show."
10:30 p.m. Sunday, June 18, at 1306, 1306 N. Miami Ave., Miami; 305-377-2277; 1306miami.com. Admission is free.