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Saturday, June 4, 2016

TOGA! Another in a Series on Great Grove Parties

- Great Grove Parties, Part 2 -      

 I met a woman at a party last month who told me, "You know, I was at your toga party".
  I knew exactly what she was talking about even though it had taken place decades earlier.
It may have been my best party ever. 

   The fifty people who donned sheets that night still remember the 1978 bacchanalian affair


Tax attorney, Alan Weisberg (left) and former Miami city planner, Jack Luft, outside my Franklin Avenue townhouse. The sign over the doorway blinked "Toga, toga, toga"!

The party's host (The Grove Guy) with a friend.

I would have remembered much less had it not been for Mike the Pilot. He was a photographer as well and took most of these photos. Mike is also the person who dreamed up the phrase, "Let's put the nut back in Coconut Grove!". I used it four years later as the theme of the King Mango Strut parade.

   Mike was so impressed by the party he created a photo book and gave it to me a month later.  It made me a member of the original Animal House fraternity!

It also had hand-written explanations of what was going on that night.

Tom, one of my neighbors, was a Burdines jr. exec at the time.

Marty Pitts left Miami soon after to take his film talents to Hollywood.
Judy and Larry Litt

My little brother, Bruce, with
Coconut Grove artist, Uta.

   Of course the party was all about Animal House -one of the funniest movies ever made-  and having a good time. It had an amazing toga party and had come out a month before (1978). The film had many of us remembering the joys of drunken fraternity parties and I thought, "Why not do it again"?

   Being single in Coconut Grove I had a lot of friends who enjoyed that sort of thing. I called each one and said, "I'm having a toga party Saturday night. Bring something alcoholic and wear a sheet or tablecloth".

  The guy on the right is former judge Murry Klein. I didn't invite him but he showed up anyway with a folded sheet in his hand.  I told him he could only come in if he wore it. It took him 20 minutes to work up the courage. It probably changed his life. 


Jerry Weisberg was a major Grove party animal before he moved (soon after) to the Bay Area. His swimming parties and beatnik poetry readings were the best.

Bill Kunz kept his home (a sailboat)  in the Grove but spent the next thirty years flying all over the world for Delta.  He now plays fiddle for the Solar Dogs.

 Mitchell Wallick was an asst. public defender here for years.  He retired and moved to Boca where, sadly, they have very few toga parties.

      After midnight the party was showing signs of slowing down.  Thankfully, Miami's premiere dance troupe, showed up en masse after a performance.  They pumped new life into Toga '78.  That's Fusion co-founder, Mary Luft, gettin' down on the right (above).

                                                    One of my blood brothers, Kim,

and Jill, who went to that Great Toga Party in the Sky last year.


  I played DJ slipping dance tapes into my boom box. 

 The party was fueled by beer and Purple Passion.  I got the recipe from my UF fraternity (ATO) in the late 60's. It's not too complicated, you mix grape juice with grain (pure) alcohol.

Here I am about to mix up another batch in a trash can.

Twenty-five years later I tried to mix up another toga party.  Of course, it wasn't the same.
Now in our fifties, we drank wine instead of the hard stuff.  We danced taking frequent rest breaks. Most of all we remembered how much fun it was a quarter-century earlier. 
   That was some party.


  1. At first, I did not notice your photo of me! You must recall I went to Tulane in New Orleans where we had many, many toga parties and such. Thank you for the record of our brilliant follies back in the day!

  2. The snacks here had a smooth taste with a bit of cheese and lime juice. To start, we got pork rinds at Seattle venues; they were really flavorful with a spicy kick and smooth taste. Plus, it was a large fresh bag too, place is worth the price.