Why, amigos, are any of us willing to settle for a world where Calle Ocho comes only once a year? We here at New Times say: "Screw that noise. We demand more. Perfectly greasy arepas, warm Presidente, and pure party music should be celebrated 100 percent of the freaking time."
After all, we are one million strong. And if we really put our collective muscle to work, it wouldn't be entirely out of our reach to establish a free and independent city-state dedicated to the perpetual pursuit of fun.
Here's the plan: Our co-presidents would be this year's Carnaval Miami kings, Hansel y Raul. We would appoint Pitbull to serve as executive officer of party relations. And no surprise, the national anthem would be Mr. 305's "I Know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)."
Indeed, it's a crazy dream. But it could work. Until the day, though, when our vision of a glorious Ocho nation comes to fruition, we'll take what we can get -- namely an afternoon packed with a million friends, eight live music stages, and several thousand tons of street food.
Kiss Country Stage
At SW 12th Avenue
Who would ever expect to find a time-space portal to Homestead in the heart of Little Havana? Nadie. And yet, we can guarantee that it'll be there this Sunday, presided over by "South Florida's Country Station" with performances by Top 40 twangers LoCash Cowboys, Celtic country girl Amber Leigh, and Nashville's David Ray.
8th Street Jam Stage
At 13th Avenue
Last year, the 8th Street Jam was a $30 megabash held inside a secure and gated private party zone. However, the 2011 edition will be totally open and free, just like the rest of Calle Ocho's festival stages. Another difference: The entertainment's been slashed to just three bands from 2010's grand total of 12. But that doesn't necessarily mean there'll be less fiesta 'cause the triple-bill in question is Locos Por Juana, Suénalo, and Spam Allstars. And those bros know how to throw down.
Power 96 Stage
At 17th Avenue
Seriously, the local pop-hop radio station is gonna be dropping it hotter than your Uncle Tramar after a jumbo Calle Ocho gyro. Try not to totally lose control of yourself, though. It'd be really shitty if you missed Dade-made rap superstar Flo Rida and MIA's thug princess Trina -- not to mention Jeremih, New Boyz, Mr. Vegas, Jay Sean, Mann, Black Dada, Honor Rebel, Qwote, and Kevin Lyttle.
Telemundo 51 Stage
At SW 22nd Avenue
If we were forced to choose the capital of our incipient Ocho nation, it just might be the Telemundo 51 stage. This seems to be the spot where royalty naturally congregates, especially since both this year's kings Hansel y Raul and el rey del año pasado, Pitbull, will be gracing the stage with their musical magnificence. Plus, there will be another 17 royal reps including Four Elements, Local 34, and Aymee. The kingdom is bountiful.
Mr. Worldwide With a Megastage
In the Pep Boys lot at SW 23rd Avenue
Who likes to hang out in parking lots? Everybody. Especially when Mr. Worldwide (AKA Pitbull) will be leading the loiterfest. Right now, there's no official lineup. But we're being told that "friends" will be joining him. And if you're Pitbull, that might mean celebrity BFFs like Lil Jon, Diddy, or Pharrell.
Kiwanis Community Stage
At SW 22nd Avenue
Given the Kiwanis of Little Havana's track record when it comes to orchestrating off-the-hook parties (like, you know, Calle Ocho itself), you should trust that this stage won't suck, even if Tito Puente Jr. is the only name you immediately recognize. There will be surprises, like Puerto Rican salsa queen Anissa Gathers who recently played La Reina in Celia the Musical, and even more surprises, including La Comision, Fuego, 24 Horas, Girlz Talk, and Gocho Dandole.
The Miami Herald Stage
At 23rd Avenue
Sure, reading the Herald's Sunday morning business section is no drop-your-pants getdown. But we wouldn't be surprised if Latin rappers D-Notes and Skinny the Fatso, neo-soul diva Nikki Kidd, and reggaetonero Heavy Papi inspired you to suddenly strip. Maybe the newspaper biz isn't so dead after all.
Univision 23 Stage
At 27 Avenue
We really hope the Univision 23 stage comes wildly alive like some kind of absurd afterparty for Sabado Gigante. But is it too much to ask for a few half-naked ladies, some little people in lucha libre masks, and a drunken cameo by Don Francisco? Probably. So instead, just expect a second glimpse of Carnaval kings Hansel y Raul and some smooth Latin pop from Jon Secada -- plus sets by 12 other performers who will be neither half-naked, masked, nor drunk.
But imagine, amigos, if only the Ocho nation would rise up, every day could be an absurd afterparty.
Calle Ocho. Sunday, March 13. SW Eighth Street between 12th and 27th avenues, Miami. The party starts at 11 a.m. and ends at 7 p.m. Admission is free. Visit calle8.com.