Living the PLUR life, wearing kandi, and listening to that tiki-tiki music may be all the rage right now.
But there's one pachanga that cranks up más volumen que Ultra Music Festival, Winter Music Conference, and Miami Music Week combined. And it's called Calle Ocho.
Every year, two million cubanos, dominicanos, venezolanos, puertorriqueños, and all kinds of other 305ers flock to SW Eighth Street for America's largest block party to rep their homeland, make more noise than your Hialeah neighbors on Nochebuena, drink ice-cold Coronas, and get high off yerba mate.
Maybe it's the alluring smell of lechón asado, the cheesy corn arepas that drip with grease at every bite, or the mamis of Calle Ocho in bikini tops emblazoned with their native land's flag that attract all those party people to Little Havana. But whatever it is, we know one thing's for sure: This fiesta is also about la música.
Since 1978, Latin music legends Desi Arnaz, Óscar D'Leon, Gloria Estefan, Willy Chirino, and of course, yo' chico Pitull have reigned as King (or Queen) of Calle Ocho. And this year, superstar Daddy Yankee will wear the crown.
With "El Jefe" as king, we predict muchas mujeres in tribal wear doing the "Limbo" onstage with the Puerto Rican papi. But the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana will also be honoring "La Reina de la Salsa," Celia Cruz, by unveiling a shiny silver sculpture in her honor.
So chug some cerveza and get ready for that salsa, merengue, reggaeton, bachata, y hip-hop at this year's celebración.
Univision 23/Univision Radio Stage. SW 27th Avenue (north). Calle Ocho is "Una Fiesta Pa' Los Rumberos." Not because it's the only time of year when all of los callejeros de Miami come out and party, but because the Grammy Award-winning rumbera herself, Albita, says so. Throw in some salsita from El Hijo de la Salsa Frankie Ruiz Jr., and you've got the recipe for tremendo baile y gozadera at the Univision 23/Univision Radio anchor stage.
Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald Stage. At SW 24th Avenue (north). Like tomorrow's news, we don't really know what to expect from the Miami Herald/El Nuevo Herald stage. All we know is Miami's favorite Latin fusion band, ¡Suénalo!, will be there, leading la conga with some "Afro-Latin-babymakin'-descarga-funk."
Telemundo 51 Pep Boys Stage. At SW 23rd Avenue (north). Vamos pa' la timba with Timbalive. Get your hips gyrating with Conjuto Impacto, sway with Melina "La Muñeca de la Salsa" Almodovar, and muévete with los reggaetoneros Angel y Khriz at the Telemundo 51 stage. With all that rumba, you'll likely wind up grinding on a stranger. Guess that's why Tu Canal will be capturing every second of la loquera.
Coca-Cola Stage. At SW 22nd Avenue (north). There's nothing more refrescante than an ice-cold Coca-Cola. Except maybe "La Princesa de la Bachata" and Latin Grammy nominee Leslie Grace asking you to "Be [Her] Baby," el salsero Frankie Negrón confessing he's "Enamorado de Ti," and the Celia Cruz All-Stars shouting, "¡Azucar!"
Mega 94.9 Stage. At SW 22nd Avenue (10th Street Road). What's the sound of Miami? Is it the pounding uhntz-uhntz that shakes the streets of South Beach? Is it the symphony of car horns and emergency sirens on the 836 during 5 p.m. traffic? Is it your neighbors yelling at 8 a.m. on a Sunday? Nope, it's Mega 94.9, "El Sonido Joven de Miami." At the intersection of 10th Street Road and 22nd Avenue, you'll find Chino y Nacho, the Latin Grammy-winning Venezuelan duo -- not to mention Elvis Crespo (the man behind the merengue classic "Suavemente" that even gets los gringos moving their feet) and el gran reggaetonero Tony Dize, who'll never forget you, even though he promised he would in "Prometo Olvidarte."
The Louder Side Stage. At SW 19th Avenue. Need a break from all that twirling and booty-poppin'? Escape to the Louder Side stage, where for the first time Calle Ocho will add an element of EDM, rock, and pop with music from Wyld Fly, Turnaround Sunshine, and other Magic City artists. Guess you can't escape the tiki-tiki music after all.
Venue Magazine, MegaTV, SBS Radio, Dominican Republic Department of Tourism Stage. At SW 17th Avenue (north). Flying in from la Republica, Johnny Ventura and his band will be reppin' los Domicanos at this year's street fest. Considered by many to be "the father of modern merengue," Ventura has released 105 albums throughout his career and practically revolutionized the genre. He was also awarded the Latin Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. So yeah, being in the presence of el merenguero is like living history.
Simple Mobile Folkloric Stage. At SW 13th Court (south). Get cultured at the Simple Mobile Folkloric stage, where over 14 folk groups from Costa Rica, Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, and Bolivia will walk around in puffy yellow dresses and colorful feathers, and do the waka-waka.
Mr. 305 Inc. United Nations Megastage. At SW 12th Avenue (north). What's the closest thing to seeing Pitbull at Calle Ocho? Checking out los artistas signed to Armando Christian Pérez's music label at the Mr. 305 Inc. United Nations Megastage. Pit's protégé Sensato will be there, and so will Fito Blanko and a bunch of other Mr. 305 Inc. superstars. ¡Dale!
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Power 96 Stage. At SW 8th Avenue. It's only fitting that the King of Calle Ocho would be seated upon a musical throne atop the stage with the best party rep in the 305. That's right -- Power 96, "Miami's Party Station" will be hosting el rey Daddy Yankee as he brags about "La Nueva y La Ex," goes "boom, boom, boom, boom" with "La Rompe Carros," and sprays the audience with "Gasolina." Oh, and dancehall star Sean Paul will also be tearing it up with your fave Power 96 DJs Zog, Def, and Cato K.
Por cierto, la fiesta nunca para en Calle Ocho.
Calle Ocho 2014. Sunday, March 9, at the corner of SW Eighth Street and 10th Avenue, Miami. The festival begins at 10 a.m. and ends at 7 p.m. Admission is free. Visit carnavalmiami.com.