Little Haiti is quickly becoming known for many things in Miami. I'm sure most most of you can fill in your own blanks, but I bet you one serpent and two rainbows that a festival celebrating spiritual and physical health wasn't high on your list. Enter Rikki Kamensky, a strong-minded and almost unbelievably optimistic woman fresh from New York, where she had a day job on Wall Street.
A half a year ago, she opened Inhale Miami, a yoga studio/live music venue/healing center/whatever the hell you want to do as long as it produces positive vibes. And since Kamensky opened Inhale's doors, it's quickly become one of the more interesting spots to check out in town. The place is a sage-scented Swiss Army knife. Rikki's business-like approach to what are usually loosely organized, care-free activities has led Inhale Miami to host its most ambitious event yet: the Sonic Funk Mini Festival.
Sonic Funk aims to be a festival that focuses on fun, individualism, and music and hopes to leave its attendees not with a hangover and regrets but with a rejuvenated mind, body, and soul. We caught up with this single mother from Brooklyn, who believes that a yoga studio can be so much more than just a place to stretch.
New Times: How long has Inhale Miami been around? What inspired it?
Rikki Kamensky: Inhale is six months old. It was inspired by my desire to combine wellness with recreation and help others integrate healthy activity into their life and still have a good time. Inhale Miami was inspired by many things. I needed an outlet from the rat race. After working on Wall Street, I found yoga to help alleviate stress and wanted to find a way to bridge the two worlds of mainstream and alternative. I traveled abroad and took a break from corporate America and, upon my return, did my yoga teacher training, studied for a massage license, and after gaining experience, started throwing pop-up yoga parties in Brooklyn.
There have been a ton of festival-type events at Inhale. Will Sonic Funk be the biggest one yet?
We have done many events offering musical, dance, blacklight glow yoga, and even a circus performance. All of our parties, workshops, and events have the intention to bring awareness to the more important things in life in order to improve quality of life. This is our first big event combining all of the different ways to offer healing through creative collaboration. We are yogis, massage therapists, acupuncturists, meditation instructors, fire dancers, acrobats, a whole marketplace of vendors selling holistic wares. We have visual mappers, engineers, musicians, artists, and body painters on the team. This is the first time we have banded together all the little talented pockets of South Florida to offer Miami an easy and dynamic way to understand alternative medicine as a lifestyle guide.
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Being basically new to Miami and delving into so many aspects of the scene here must have been challenging. How have you gone about it?
I moved to Miami just over a year ago from New York and immediately delved into the hopping Miami daytime productions and nightlife events to get a taste of what was going on. I definitely found it difficult to start a business without knowing a lot of people here, but I find Miami to be extremely open to new people, and it's relatively easy to make new friends. Miami is a really a small town once you get to know it; I just need to remain slow and steady. Another challenge is that while yoga has been around in Miami for awhile, starting with Gaia Budhai Love’s Synergy and Miami Life Center setting the stage almost 30 years ago, the Miami holistic community has really just started to boom with the sprouting of juice places, organic restaurants, and yoga studios. I guess I have gone about it by sticking to my guns and staying authentic to the message I want to put out there into the world — that preventative health care is for everyone, and it doesn’t have to be New Age-y, have a hippie stigma, or be cult-like.
Offering up a "healthy" festival environment is a bit of a unique take. Is this something that you picked up on in New York? Or is it your own spin?
I was a regular yoga teacher at monthly morning parties in New York. We would rave completely sober at 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday mornings and for three hours before work began, break it down on the dance floor while drinking coffee and juices — free massages also. The healthy festival environment is a way to do the things we love to do but just do it better. We can hear great music and hang out with friends in a comfortable and clean environment. New York definitely has a huge community of people that like to party, dance, listen to music, and hang out with friends yet are not into the drinking and drugs. Miami is a little harder to wake up at 6:30 in the morning, so meeting people where they’re at and adjusting to the environment here has been essential. My style is a mix of Brooklyn and Miami: Take it easy but not lazy.
What would you like Sonic Funk to develop into? Will you always do it at your venue? Or would you consider moving it offsite if it grows?
I am open to anything that makes sense. I would love to see the Sonic Funk series grow into something huge. It has a great message, and my collaborator, Jared Bistrong, has been the backbone to these events, which started as a fundraiser for my nonprofit Yoga Kidz Inc., which provides free yoga to kids, low-income families, and specials needs. Jared is a very talented musician and facilitator, and together we have two interests with Sonic Funk. One: Help heal people from the barrage of technology, overstimulation, and adrenal fatigue. And two: Gather cool people together to listen to good music, make art, and leave feeling inspired and rejuvenated. A percentage of the Sonic Funk Festival profit will always go to Yoga Kidz, and due to that, I would love to see our Inhale location outgrow Sonic Funk and move across the street to the Little Haiti Soccer Park, where we can fit thousands.
Sonic Funk Mini Festival with the Electric Sand Band and more. 5 p.m. Saturday, April 2, at Inhale Miami, 6310 NE Second Ave., Miami; 786-391-1897; inhalemiami.com. Tickets cost $16 plus fees via eventbrite.com.