Something like 150,000 glow stick-clutching, Molly-munching, neon hat-wearing, EDM-loving beautiful freaks plop down in downtown Miami each year for Ultra Music Festival. They bring us business, like a lot of it, and all kinds. But they also block Biscayne Boulevard, a strip of US 1, and, at times, horrify the senses. With swarms of these numbers entering any city for a music festival, there will be some who contest.
This year, the massive EDM festival announced it was expanding from three sweaty days of dilated pupils and furry boots to six, over two weekends. Our sister paper Miami New Times reported on the minute to minute drama that befell Ultra this week when City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff contested the second weekend of dancing in downtown. Good news is, he lost this round. Here are the gory details.
Commissioner Sarnoff introduced two resolutions that would have blocked a second weekend of Ultra.
1. The first called the commission to disapprove of the closing of Biscayne Boulevard's northbound lane. Though the real decision-maker on this is the
Florida Department of Transportation, if this had been passed, it would have indicated to the FDOT that things weren't groovy in Miami.
2. The other disapproved of Ultra's mere presence at Bayfront Park for that second weekend. Though the Bayfront Park
Trust had already approved it, the City code says that the City Commission trumps
the Trust. So, this would have been a big old meany power move.
The whole thing was heavily criticized by author and sometime Miami resident Irvine Welsh (remember Trainspotting?) and long-haired DJ Tommie Sunshine, on, of course, Twitter. If there's anything that'll mobilize the youth (or in these cases, not so youthful) of this country, it's some suit trying to take away our party time.
But things didn't go smoothly for Sarnoff. Oddly, or maybe, obviously, the meeting turned to talk of drugs. Miami New Times quotes Sarnoff as saying: "We
all know drug usage is high at Ultra. And it might be OK for a young
man to get high, or whatever you want to call it, on Friday, Saturday,
Sunday. But you are going to have some people try to do Friday,
Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday...." So, you know, three days of chomping on E and snorting lines of K is tots acceptable, but a full week, with two weekends is something else. Sarnoff ain't wrong.
But ultimately, Ultra had the support of the Commission. Those on their side included former cop Frank
Suarez, and Michelle Spence-Jones, who argued that the festival provides income to
people in her district, which includes nearby, impoverished (and historic!) Overtown.
meeting, Ultra had promised $600,000 dollars for police and security for both weekends.
Last night, the commission asked for an additional $500,000 from organizers for a special
police fund, and asked that Ultra seek the Commission's approval next year on a second weekend before announcing dates or acts.
So, what happened? Ultra won! We get two huge weekends of mad dru... er... awesome music and community!
While we're on the topic, here's the lineup and arenas so far:
DJs: Above & Beyond, Afrojack, Armin van Burren, Avicii, Bassnectar, Calvin Harris, Carl Cox, David Guetta, Fatboy Slim, Kaskade, Knife Party, Richie Hawtin, Swedish House Mafia, and Tiësto.
Live performances: The Bloody Beetroots, Booka Shade, Boys Noize, Crystal Castles, deadmau5, Disclosure, DJ Fresh (Live), Hot Chip, Major Lazer, Matt & Kim, Modestep, Rudimental, Thievery Corporation, and Yeasayer.
Arenas: A State Of Trance 600 Arena, Carl Cox and Friends Arena, Mixmag Arena, and Space Ibiza.
2013 Ultra Music Festival. March 15 to 17 and 22 to 24. Ticket cost from $299.95 to $1,449.90.