Archive for: March, 2016

Ultra Is Misunderstood

Welcome to the most misunderstood event in Miami.  Starting this afternoon our Downtown streets will be invaded by colors, sounds and an energy that is categorically surreal. Ultra gets its name from the 1997 Depeche Mode album of the same title. Year to year the attendance numbers are staggering with close to 200,000 people attending in 2015. The festival started in 1999 as a one day concert on Collins Park in South Beach. The founders, Russell Faibisch and the late Alex Omes took a $20,000 loss that year. Goes to show you what a little vision and perseverance can gain you. Many people in Miami have negative feelings towards Ultra. There is a “get off my lawn” type of vibe – most of this is generational as the youth have a tendency to be a bit rebellious, which frustrates the older generation. With all the events Miami plays host to year round, I believe there is a place for everyone to exist. Especially since the “money maker” festival is not going anywhere. Estimated ticket revenue is close to $150,000,000 (weekend passes at $500 a pop sold out in January). Contrary to the what the Miami Herald reported today about EDM (Electronic Dance Music) being on a downfall it is hard to see the success of Ultra and agree. Last week I wrote about Calle Ocho, and how it is a unifier and a celebration of culture. Ultra is very much the same.  It is the “Raver Calle Ocho”.  It is powered by what is referred to as PLUR culture // PEACE, LOVE, UNITY, RESPECT. If you take 3 mins to look at this recap video (below) from last year’s Ultra…

Read More →


Little Havana once again will host the annual Calle Ocho street festival this Sunday. It is one of the largest in the world with almost 2 million people attending last year. For anyone of my subscribers who are not from Miami, it is a true experience unlike any other. BACKGROUND In 1977 tensions among Miami’s different ethnic groups were running high. Eight Cuban-Americans, mostly from the Kiwanis of Little Havana, were trying to come up with ideas to address the situation. They considered a bicycle race on SW Eighth Street (Calle Ocho). It was turned down because the organizers feared that it would pit one ethnic group against another. Willy Bermello came up with the idea of doing something similar to the block parties and street festivals of Philadelphia. Calle Ocho was born.   Today the Calle Ocho Festival is a local holiday, where various ethnic communities pridefully wear colors or flags representing their heritage. You can see flags from Colombia to Nicaragua to Puerto Rico to Costa Rica and even Ireland flood the streets. Foods from different countries are sold, and popular music like reggaeton, salsa, bachata and merengue are heard through the festival. In 2010, the Florida legislature identified the Calle Ocho-Open House 8 festival as the official state festival.   The festival takes place between 27th Ave and 4th Ave along Southwest 8th Street. Over 30 stages and hundreds of street vendors participate in the live music street festival now in its 3rd decade. Calle Ocho earned an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records when 119,986 people formed the world’s longest conga line on March…

Read More →

Back to Top