Miami's Hottest Backyard Party Devolved Into a Drunken, Mango-Throwing Brawl With Cops
Asit K. Ghosh via wikimedia commons
The arrest report is, at first glance, your standard South Florida fare. Location: a house party in South Miami. Suspect: an 18-year-old kid. Charges: battery on a law enforcement officer, resisting arrest, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Then, however, there is the rather unusual weapon, listed in parentheses like an afterthought: mango.
The backstory behind the fruit-versus-cop incident isn't just bizarre. It's also a sneak peek into one of this city's hottest events -- wild bacchanals called Sharkface Backyard Parties, run by an 18-year-old who says he's related to one of Miami's most famous families.
"I don't like telling people that they are the best parties in town because I don't want to sound immodest," says Alex Balart, the young man behind the shows. "But this is everything I ever wanted in a party, and the universe just gave it to me."
Balart -- who says he's related to Republican stalwarts Mario and Lincoln Diaz-Balart, though it's not clear how close a relation he is -- is barely old enough to vote. But he now finds himself at the helm of an ever-expanding underground music scene in South Miami-Dade.
It all began two months ago as Balart and his buddies were preparing to graduate from Miami Southridge Senior High. Alex, a thin kid with facial piercings, cutoff T-shirts, and what can only be called an emo-mullet, stared into the future and saw visions of backyard ragers with ladies, libations, and local music. Three words sprang to mind, like gifts from a generous muse: SHARK. FACE. PARTY.
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"There is nothing to do around here in the summer," he says, citing the recent closures of venues like Miami Wings, the New Vintage Music Hall, and the Talent Farm. "We don't really have a venue or somewhere we can call home anymore. So I thought I would just kick it up a notch and do it myself."
Balart planned the party's premiere for May 24. News of the fiesta spread like wildfire on Facebook. When more than 500 people showed up, Balart knew he had a viable business.
He and his buddies decided to go even bigger for their next stunt, officially dubbed the first Sharkface Backyard Party. Graphic designer Bryan Montenegro crafted posters screaming "Konichiwa Bitches!" and promising no fewer than 16 bands on three stages. And club promoter Brandon Claro put out the word to drum up even more of a crowd.
It worked. By 5 p.m. on June 28, more than 300 kids -- most in their late teens or early 20s -- were packed into Balart's backyard. By sundown, it was 800. Everything was going great, Balart says, until he heard screaming and shouting from the front of the house.
Two bouncers, basically just dudes Balart had met a few hours earlier, were wailing on a photographer named Adrian Dominguez.
"Instead of doing their jobs, they ended up getting wasted and bullying people out into the street," Balart admits.
Dominguez was rushed to the hospital, where doctors wired shut his shattered jaw. Two Miami-Dade cops arrived at the party moments later and made a beeline for the backyard. Officer Jesus Coto pulled his Taser and stunned one of the suspects. But just as he was about to arrest the bouncer, a mango came crashing into Coto's head.
"I wouldn't say it was tossed so much as hurled," Balart says. "Like 90 miles an hour straight into the cop's face."
Police arrested 18-year-old Tobias Lloreda for the produce assault -- as well as pot possession for the grinder in his pocket -- although Facebook posts after the party suggest he may not have been the culprit.
Rather than kill the buzz around Sharkface parties, however, the mangotazo has only added more hype. References to the famously flung fruit exploded on Facebook.
"Who in the FUCK threw a mango at the cops?" Balart posted. "You have balls of fucking steel, but I specifically said, do not FUCK with the mango TREE."
"Throw parties, not mangoes," another partygoer added. One commenter even composed a poem, "The Mango Kid."
Balart stresses he is sorry for the incident and has tried to reach out to Dominguez. Despite the aggressive name, Sharkface parties are supposed to be peaceful.
"We don't want a violent frenzy," he says. "We just want to have fun."
With that in mind, a Sharkface sequel is already planned for this weekend. This time it will be held at a ranch with more room and professional security guards, Balart says. Bands from as far away as Orlando have been booked.
"It's going to be much safer and more enjoyable," he says. "And bring the mangoes. Someone gave me the idea of sitting behind a booth and signing them."
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