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While this winter has not been nearly as bad as it has in past years (hello, three feet of snow!), the holidays are over and the boys are starting to look forward to the summer months. While Rehoboth Beach is a consistently great time and Fire Island will eventually be back better than ever, Paradise and Asbury Park are going to be especially hot this year!

Bartender & resident Asbury Park party boy Jojo Crisci is throwing his birthday bash at Paradise on Friday, February 10, with one of NYC’s favorite DJs (and Paradise favorite) Jonny Mack on the decks throwing down his signature fierce beats! The theme is “Jojo’s Big Top Stripper Circus Birthday,” so there will definitely be something for everyone there. Christy Girlington will be “ring-mistress” of ceremonies for the evening’s festivities, with fabulous cocktail specials and amazing strippers (some of NYC’s best).

On the heels of Jojo’s birthday circus is one of the biggest events on the calendar annually, the 13th Annual Miss Paradise Pageant Weekend. Friday, February 17, is Miss Paradise 2011 Juliza Alezae’s final show, with special guest HEDDA LETTUCE! Alexis Mateo (RuPaul’s Drag Race 3) returns to perform at the pageant on the 19th, hosted by Asbury Park favorite Lady Marisa. This pageant has featured talent that has gone on to Broadway and even “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” This year, there are seven girls to give us truly a “sick’ning” pageant! The judges this year include “Project Runway” alum Suede, Style Network’s “The Glam Fairy” co-star Jon Kutlu and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 4 contestant Jiggly Caliente. Past years’ performances have ranged from drag queens entering in a Gaga-inspired egg to another performing “Wicked” anthem “Defying Gravity” and actually taking flight! This event is one of the most highly attended events of the year and definitely not to be missed.

A great year-round way for you to kick off the weekend is a visit to the Paradise Copper Bar for Friday “Throw Back Happy Hour,” hosted by Asbury Park’s own Skoot Golightly. You may be having a cocktail while watching some classic “Golden Girls,” or it could be a viewing of the classic “Sonny & Cher Hour.” With a mix of Andy Cohen and Auntie Mame, starting your happy hour with Skootie will definitely get your weekend started right.While many people may still consider Sunday a recovery day, the amazing leather community of Asbury Park takes over Paradise for “Sinner Sundays.” Hosted by Mr. New Jersey Leather Danny Tamez, you can expect a little fundraising, a little brunch, a little kink and a LOT of FUN! The event takes place every second Saturday of the month. February closes out the month with the annual Furry Fun in February Weekend (February 24-26) with a Jock Strap Party on Friday, Saturday’s Hi-BEAR-Nation Party with go-go gods, porn stars & DJ Jonny Mack, plus Bear Brunch on Sunday. It’s a great weekend to come out of hibernation!

Believe it or not, these are only the events that are leading up to summer; as soon as the curtain came down on the summer of 2011, planning already went into overdrive to make sure the summer of 2012 was just as spectacular (let’s be honest, even better)! Already confirmed to kick off summer on Memorial Day Weekend: Grammy Award-winning remixer, producer and DJ Hex Hector will take over the main-room dance floor on Memorial Day Saturday. He will surely be giving you some “Hex favorites” along with some unreleased gems, and he is also making a return engagement to spin again on June 2, New Jersey Pride weekend.

Of course, the beginning of summer in Asbury Park would not be complete without the poolside Tea Dance at Paradise, with the iconic Shep Pettibone giving you the most amazing beats to finish out your weekend (and what is better than dancing poolside)? Drag followers will also get their fill with NYC icon Sherry Vine coming for a visit this summer!

While all of the events will be filling up your summer calendar quickly, rest assured that there are plenty of spots to chill at Paradise. The spacious hotel rooms are all equipped with free Wi-Fi (a MUST have these days). The rooms have either a poolside view (to people watch, of course) or an ocean view (perfect view of the beach for a romantic sunset cocktail right from your room). And if you want to get away from the incredible lights, dancing and rotating roster of DJs, pop into the lobby bar for some fabulous martinis, or just to take a breather.

The restaurant Tabu is right downstairs, back again this summer with a brand new chef and menu and new specials popping up on the menu all the time. A personal favorite is one of the homemade savory soups, paired with the amazing chicken panini. And of course, table service direct to the pool deck is always available. Who wouldn’t want to spend a lazy afternoon at the pool with a cocktail and a fantastic meal?

With these events already on the calendar (and more artists/events being confirmed currently) this summer is destined to be the best yet. Now, start thinking summer wardrobe and head over to: www.paradisenj.com Reserve your room now at (732) 774-0100 and start making your plans to join everyone else in Asbury Park for the summer of 2012.

By Michael Cook

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