If you still need proof that Miami has grown an underground electronic dance music scene to rival those of international meccas like London and Berlin, look no further than the success of Underground Story.
Five years ago, it was practically inconceivable for promoters to pull off an underground house and techno night at a South Beach megaclub. And it's still no small feat in 2014, with commercial music and VIP culture continuing to rule nightlife on the Beach.
But Underground Story, the brainchild of local promotions mainstays Link and Miami Rebels, didn't happen overnight. It took years of cultivating a loyal following among local heads at a smaller and more intimate Miami Beach venue, Treehouse.
Underground Story at Ultra 2014
Underground Story at Ultra 2014: Presented by Story Miami, Link, and Miami Rebels. As part of Ultra Music Festival 2014. Friday and Saturday, March 28 and 29, at Bayfront Park, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Tickets cost $399.95 plus fees via ultratix.ticketfreak.com. Visit ultramusicfestival.com.
By the time they set out to launch Underground Story at Story Miami in January 2013, Link and Miami Rebels had already helped create substantial local demand for underground music on the Beach. All they needed was a bigger boat.
"The move to Story was a stretch, going from a 500-person venue to a 1,500-person venue," Link's Davide and Miami Rebels' Coloma tell New Times.
"The feel and experience that you get from our celebrations at Treehouse and Story are completely different," they explain. "Treehouse, being dark and intimate, gives us an opportunity to bring talent that has never graced our city in the past. But we always thought that a big dance arena like Story would be so much better with quality house and techno that takes a risk, is underground in nature, and leaves the crowd with questions and curiosity for more.
"We have had an amazing year full of challenges and experiences," Davide and Coloma add. "Our success is only in our survival, and we consider that, with Story, we have many more challenges to conquer, and with the help of a great team, we are well on our way."
It was certainly nothing short of an epic first year for Underground Story, with some of the global underground's biggest names — from Magda to Claude VonStroke and the Dirtybird crew to Lee Burridge and Behrouz — gracing the DJ booth. So even if the promoters remain wary of the challenges facing them as they continue running against the tide of commercial nightlife on South Beach, ongoing success must surely be in the cards if their 2014 artist bookings are anything like last year's.
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Of course, getting their very own stage at Ultra Music Festival this year is a whole new level of accomplishment for Link, Miami Rebels, and Underground Story, showing how far the crew has come in its effort to bring Miami's underground scene to the world's attention.
"You can expect to be blown away by the Underground Story stage," Davide and Coloma promise. "It is going to be a bit hidden, with capacity for 1,000 people — we want to keep it intimate — and with the DJ booth much closer to the crowd than is typical at festivals.
"Link and Miami Rebels residents are playing on Saturday, and this makes us so damn happy! They deserve it, and it's going to be a pleasure to see them on the decks!" the promoters enthuse. "The talent is absolutely the best in the world, from pioneers to the ones leading the waves to come. Expect surprises."