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What Happened to Siesta Key?

Posted by Paul Parr on February 18th, 2009

Known as a bohemian community and regular Florida destination for artists of the 50’s and 60’s Siesta Key has now lost much of it’s early mystique. When you read the meaning of bohemian you will find;

“The term bohemian, of French origin, was first used in the English language in the nineteenth century to describe the nontraditional lifestyles of marginalized and impoverished artists, writers, musicians and actors in major European cities. Bohemians were associated with unorthodox or anti establishment political or social viewpoints, which were often expressed through non-marital sexual relations, frugality, and/or voluntary poverty.”

Bob Dylan, Billie Jean King, Arlo Guthrie, John McDonald, Syd Solomon, Jerry Wexler are just a few of the many names who made Siesta Key their Florida retreat of choice. Small cottage homes dotted the key and shore. Informal casual was the dress code and the attitude. When on the key you were protected from stress and deadlines. This is where they came to relax and have fun. No reporters to report their going on’s and no photographers to prove their existence and location. Siesta Key’s favorite commercial establishments basically served light food and lots of beverage. To say that it was idyllic in every way would be an understatement.

This was Siesta Key, but if it is gone, where did it go? Relax, the key of Siesta is still located in pretty much the same geographic location that it had during the 20th century. What has changed? Lots! Just like all of America, your 1950’s gave way to the 60’s and this meant change. Many of those little beach cottages and houses gave way in the late 1960’s to a new phenomena on Siesta Key called a condominium or condos. This wave continued into the 80’s when the cottages and little homes on the interior of the key started to disappear and were replaced with larger houses. The Village of Siesta Key hung on and continued to let you know you were on a location where clocks and calendars had no real place or use. You came here when you could and left when you had to. You slept when you had to and awoke when you wanted to. Life was still laid back, but the scenery was slowly changing.

The changes were not always obvious, but you knew it was not quite like it was. Oh sure, you could still get pretty smashed on any night of the week and somehow find your way back to that place you were staying, but it did seem that people were starting to look a little different. In fact, that was it, the people were starting to look. They looked at you when you walked down the street and they looked at you when you slept on the beach. You started to notice that these people also had kids with them, that was different and they were entering and leaving the new shops that started to appear along Ocean Avenue. It seemed that someone may have put Siesta Key on the map. Wow, mainstream was finding and visiting Siesta Key. In reality mainstream had found and were purchasing Siesta Key, a condo at a time. You had to be honest with yourself and admit that the first condo at the beach, Sunset Royale, now had a lot of company. Condos had spread along Beach Road and Midnight Pass like the pepper trees and Australian pines that did not used to be here either. “The times they are a changing.”

So if Siesta Key is still there, would it be safe to say that it is still a community of artists, actors, musicians and writers with a strong bohemian bent? That would be partly true. Siesta Key has become the home and play place for many of the artists of the Americas and Europe. It appears that somehow Siesta Key is still able to keep out the reporters and paparazzi who like to track the rich and famous no matter where they go,except for Siesta Key. The beaches are a magnet for those seeking a stress free escape. The sands of Crescent Beach proudly conceal those scantily clad artist who need a place like to Siesta Key to find themselves. Additionally many hard working successful folks from around the world make it a point to arrive and experience this incredible key, but bohemian, I’m sorry bohemian has left the key. Perhaps replaced by our newly refashioned Village of Siesta Key with it’s many shops, sidewalk cafes and very fine restaurants, which, by the way, would prefer that you left your ties and jackets at home, after all, this is still Siesta Key!

To the ghosts of Siesta Key past it might seem sacrilegious that Sunday mornings at 7:00 AM an organic farmers market caters to the vacationers and many early morning breakfast bistros start your Sunday with eggs Benedict along with your espresso in the heart of Siesta Key Village. On the other hand, were the bohemians ever religious? The cars on streets and roads seem to be pretty upscale to those of the 50’s, but than again what else would one expect. Even the streets and roads are being updated and stylized with utilities buried and fancy street lights installed along with brick sidewalks and street crossings. We can go forward or backward, but we can’t just stay in place. Enjoy the metamorphosis of Siesta Key as one thing has not changed at all. It is still lots of fun with it’s breath taking beach of white powder sugar sand touching the azure Gulf of Mexico and beckoning you in to it’s sparkling waters reflecting the ubiquitous blue sky.

Filed under Siesta Key Beach
Tags: beach, beachfront, holiday, Penthouse Condo #408, siesta key, travel, vacation, vacation rental
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