Key West's monthly Full Moon Experience gatherings on HIggs Beach feature entertainment, artistry, community camaraderie and surprises under a moonlit night sky. (Photo by Turner Harrison)
- By: Carol Shaughnessy
- March 13, 2019
Key West is internationally famous for its Sunset Celebration, an eclectic gathering of artists and street performers and their fans, that takes place each evening overlooking the water at Mallory Square.
One Key West resident, however, believes the monthly full moon is equally deserving of celebration — and he’s renowned for staging Full Moon Experience gatherings on Higgs Beach, beside the Atlantic Ocean, that are becoming more popular each month.
His name is Scott Gerke, and he’s a DJ and innovative event coordinator whose previous projects include an open-air movie series in Key West’s Bayview Park. But when he turned his talents to creating a full moon celebration of local culture, he quickly realized that its production should be a synergistic rather than solo effort.
“What started with a few friends turned into a 600-person dance party within a few months,” Scott said. “When a friend showed up with a huge palm frond and used it as a limbo stick, I knew this should turn into more of a participation event, where WE are the party.”
Accordingly, Scott branded it “A Celebration of Us” and evolved it into a community bonding event that appeals to people of all ages and features creativity in a wide variety of genres.
“Live art, bands, DJs, fire dancers and aerial artists have been featured since the inception of this concept,” Scott explained. “Each month we turn this blank canvas into something new and exciting, thanks in part to the participants who come to show off their talents.”
The gathering is held from dusk to midnight on the date of the full moon (or as near that date as possible) from October through June. And while each event is different, with a unique monthly theme and the tone set by the creative spirits who participate, certain elements remain constant.
Each celebration begins with yoga on the beach, a communal session of rejuvenation for mind and body for practitioners of all skill levels. That’s followed by a family-friendly Moon Rise Celebration with local performers. Attendees who have birthdays during the month are honored, and music by local DJs and bands is always a highlight. Libations and local food offerings are available for purchase.
Depending on the month, attendees at the beachfront festivities might find limbo dancing, drumming, face painting, tug-o-war challenges, artists painting live on the beach, magic, jugglers, surprise performances by buskers and many other enticing elements.
“We encourage self-expression and participation,” said Scott. “We want people to see this as a positive environment where they can be the best version of themselves — a place to become inspired and inspire others, make or connect with friends, and get excited to be a part of the community.”
The next Full Moon Experiences are scheduled March 21, April 19, May 19 and June 15. As in the past, they’re sure to feature exuberant energy, a good-spirited vibe and the chance to share an evening with some of the most creative people in the Florida Keys — all set against the backdrop of the Keys’ natural water’s-edge beauty, salt-flavored breeze and sky glowing with the light of a perfect full moon.