Ultra 2014: After Trampling, It's Party as Usual
Two days after a horrifying trampling incident that has city officials, including Mayor Tomás Regalado, calling for an end to Miami as host city of Ultra, the massive EDM festival carried on like, well, a massive EDM festival.
Throughout Sunday afternoon, thousands of revelers -- many in colorful body or face paint or at least clad in the festival's apparent unofficial uniform of revealing platinum booty shorts -- streamed towards Bayfront Park. Promoters dispensed soon-to-be discarded fliers and bracelets and those trippy glasses, and a benevolent soul handed toilet paper to several people waiting in line for typically gross Port-A-Potties. Also, some guy with a tattooed forehead walked around carrying a cardboard sign that said "I just like to write on cardboard." (When complimented on the sign, he then stopped and asked for a buck.)
So on Possibly the Last Day of Ultra Ever -- if the mayor gets his way -- it was, you know, party as usual.
Photo by George Martinez
The majority of revelers, in fact, appeared to be unaware of Friday night's incident. Alex Roque, 21, and Roly Martinez, 19, were walking just feet from the spot where Erica Mack had been nearly killed when they learned, from Crossfade, about the trampling. Neither seemed much surprised -- Roque, an Argentine flag draped around his waist, said that sneaking into Ultra was common. He and Martinez had tickets this year, but last year, he said, he resorted to jumping a fence to enter the festival.
"That's why I jump," he said after learning of the fence storming. "I don't rush."
Stefanie Pangle, 45, and her boyfriend Scott Key, 43, both visiting from Charleston, South Carolina, also hadn't heard anything. The small business owners were attending Ultra for the first time and had been shut out on Saturday when the tickets they bought for $600 had been revealed as frauds at the scanning gate.
"Oh my God," Pangle said when told of the trampling.
The news, however, did little to dampen their excitement. After having already spent $1000 on tickets, Key said, walking fast with a beer bottle in his hand, "we want to have fun."
Near the ticket gate was Mayra Lozano, 27. She was dressed entirely in bright purple. Lozano, passing out packets of Takis snacks, also hadn't heard about Mack and wasn't really surprised, either. She had begun work on Friday inside the ticketed area but then asked to be relocated to outside the gates after an unpleasant experience. "It didn't feel very safe," she said in Spanish. "There were too many people too close together."
Waiting on a bench slightly removed from the crowd was Shey Junqueira, an advertising student dressed in furry boots and a green and white tinsel crown. Junqueira, 19, said a friend had told her of the trampling incident, but she didn't really expect other partygoers to have any idea.
"When you're coming to Ultra," she said, "you're so much into the mentality of going to Ultra you don't hear about these things until after." Junqueira, a five-year Ultra veteran, had also heard the rumors that politicians wanted the festival shut down, that this could be the last year. But she was skeptical that such a big economic engine (which generated more than $30 million in 2013 ticket sales alone) could really be stopped. "They'll move it or up the security," she said. "I don't think they'll cancel it altogether. It's a big brand."
When approached by Crossfade, two security guards for Contemporary Services Corporation, the private company Erica Mack was working for, quickly replied they had no comment. Officer Pete Gomez, an assistant fire chief, said the Miami Fire Department's reaction to Mack's trampling had been effective and that no logistical changes were implemented in the wake of the incident.
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