Watching Ultra Music Festival's idyllic official after-movies, you might get the impression that UMF is some kind of utopian music-based society where the young and beautiful run only in slow motion, where everyone is welcome and everything is pleasant.
In some ways, this is true. You’re more likely to have a good time than a bad one. But it is also possible to sabotage your potentially epic, super-memorable Ultra experience.
Certain behaviors stemming from ignorance, naiveté, or just being kind of a party pooper can and will lead to a less-than-stellar UMF 2015.
Here are the ten people who won't make it at Ultra Music Festival. Don't let yourself be counted among them.
In 2012, we were surprised at the sight of three chubby-faced youths wandering around Ultra without parental supervision. They were wearing plain white T's, like the kind you buy three for $5 in a bag at Walmart, and they’d written “Steve Aoki” across the chest in permanent marker. We asked: “How old are you?” And they shouted: “Twelve!” We asked, rhetorically: “Wow, this is your first Ultra?” But they cried: “No, it’s our third!” And then we cried. This year, though, Ultra Music Festival has instituted a strict 18-and-over policy. So we're sorry, kids. But you just aren't gonna make it.
Black-Clad Industry Insiders
What’s the telltale sign that a music fan has finally evolved into an industry insider? Said person’s unshakable affinity for dressing in black, from head to toe, despite the high risk of heat stroke. Miami in March is a sweltering fever dream with highs in the 90s and a humidity index of 110 percent, yet too many dance-music makers, PR reps, promoters, and managers refuse to dress like they’re in the subtropics. These people are also drinking a lot of alcohol. Don't they know that dehydration is deadly?
Over the past few years, a lot has changed in the way ravers celebrate. Finger-gloving has mostly taken the place of liquid glow-stick shows. And these days, you don’t see quite as much poi play. There's also a lot more emphasis on glowing hoop tricks. But even with all of this topsy-turviness, glowing goodies have remained an Ultra crowd staple. So have kandi facemasks, stuffed-animal accessories, and those weird-turned-trendy-turned-cliché furry boots. However, this new era of neon excitement has suddenly come to an end, as the fest tries to clean up its image in the wake last year’s trampling of security guard Erica Mack and the fatal drug overdose of Adonis Peña Escoto. At Ultra Music Festival 2015, facemasks, finger gloves, laser pointers, and dozens of other items have been officially banned.
Whenever the Ultra lineup surfaces, there are thousands upon thousands of people just people bitching about how it's so “mainstream” or “obvious.” But a lot of discerning dance types actually see the festival as a breeding ground for younger EDM fans. In many ways, it's become a rite of passage, though it’s sometimes sneered upon by the snobs. But even if you think Krewella is the tween-angst Warped Tour version of dance music, there's no reason to spit in all of those smiling, screaming faces. Is it highbrow? Absolutely not. Is it a good time? Definitely. And they wouldn't be able to charge $500 a ticket if it weren’t. So make like a contraband rave accessory and lighten up.
Ultra 2015 is the most costly ticket so far. And without single-day passes, fans are forced to buy into the full weekend package. Inside the festival, food and drinks are overpriced. The ATM fees are steep too. And then there's the fact that most fans are flying or driving in from other cities while putting themselves up in expensive hotels. Tally all of those costs and you’re easily talking a party price in the thousands. You cannot go to UMF on a budget. There is no such thing.
The High Maintenance
Miami is known for its flashy personalities and shallow social norms, but Ultra is not a place that the posh will likely find very comfortable. For one, you can’t carry a purse, man or otherwise, on festival grounds anymore. (Yes, that's also among the fest's banned raver gear for 2015.) Your only option is toting around personal items in a small, see-through backpack. Meanwhile, you will be bumming around with sweaty party monsters all day in the hot, humid sun. And it’s quite likely to rain at some point. Dust is kind of an issue too. So, you know, just don’t come if you’re not down to get dirty.
Does the sight of a dude in an elephant-trunk thong make you uncomfortable? How about a woman’s boobs decorated in weed pasties? Do you think underwear was meant to be worn under pants? Do booty shorts that read “It’s Not Going to Slap Itself” and tank tops emblazoned with “Pussy, Molly, Weed, Sluts, Dubstep” seem a cause for concern? Unfortunately, you are outnumbered by about 55,000. Prudes can hang with the religious zealots outside the gate.
Crazy People Without Sunscreen
If you’re half-naked at Ultra and not wearing sunscreen, then you may as well start saving for the cancerous mole-removal surgery that will be required in five to ten years. This festival is three days long. Don’t worry about getting that tan. It will come to you. Slather up, big boss. Also, keep in mind, that shiny tattoo, henna design, and expertly placed gem decoration will remain on your face, arms, or stomach until the tan line fades or gets filled in, so make sure it’s something you can live with at work when this PLUR-tastic weekend is over.
Last year, there were more than 165,000 people who attended Ultra Music Festival over the course of its three-day run. Even the Klipsch Amphitheater at Bayfront Park, where the live stage is hosted, has a legal capacity of 10,000. So prepare to rub shoulders and elbows and butts and who knows what else with hundreds of people from all over the world. Navigating the crowd at Ultra's main stage should not be attempted under any circumstances by individuals with personal space issues. And the Carl Cox tent won’t be so sweet either. There may be times when simply walking from stage to stage feels like the last march of a farm cow. Hang in there.
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If Ultra's crowds weren’t enough to make you break out the hand sanitizer, how about sharing port-a-johns with 165,000 totally sober, totally self-aware, and totally considerate individuals? Oops, we were being totally sarcastic there! The good news is, humanity hasn’t survived 200,000 years of plague, infection, and disease without a kick-ass immune system. Sip some orange juice and stock up on the Emergen-C and you’ll come out of Ultra Music Festival with nothing more than a runny nose and a nervous breakdown.
Ultra Music Fesival 2015. Friday to Sunday, March 27 to 29, at Bayfront Park, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Tickets cost $299.95 to $449.95. Ages 18 and up. Visit ultramusicfestival.com.