Juan Cardenas says he and his friends have been hanging out at one other's apartments in Miami for the past several weeks. They call themselves a "quaranteam."
"It's a group of friends that stick together through the entire process and basically don't hang out with other people so we don't get confined to our bedrooms," Cardenas tells New Times. "We're basically family."
So when French DJ David Guetta announced he would do a set at Icon Brickell this past Saturday, Cardenas didn't think twice about going to the luxury condo building to watch the performance at a friend's place.
About 15 to 20 members of the quaranteam got together to dance to Guetta's music on their friend's balcony. But as the guests uploaded clips of the small party on Instagram, their videos unexpectedly went viral. The next day, @OnlyInDade — a Miami meme account with 431,000 followers — posted a compilation of video snippets from the get-together, prompting a massive backlash against the friend group.
"This is not social distancing at all," DJ Entice of 99 Jamz pointed out.
"The cops should show up and seal their doors for 2 weeks," food influencer Eddie Zamora, AKA @theyumyumfoodie, responded.
"This guy is such a fucktard," model Gabriella Cataño-Salinas articulated.
As of this afternoon, the video had attracted more than 280,000 views and 4,600 comments.
As the video spread to various corners of the internet, some commenters identified Cardenas, who goes by the name Juan Patron professionally. Cardenas, who runs a marketing agency, says he was recognized because he has done TV interviews in the past; he also has a blue check and 107,000 followers on Instagram.
After Cardenas was identified, some critics noted that on Sunday, he posted videos of himself passing out McDonald's burgers to homeless people around Miami. Fashion blogger Ria Michelle was one local figure who questioned that decision.
"Who throws a party during a charity dj set for a pandemic? Absolutely irresponsible," she tweeted. "Worse yet as a 'public figure', the very next day going around the community without a mask after you've just had a party."
Reached by New Times, Cardenas says he was shocked at the amount of negative attention the videos received.
"We were not the only ones on the balcony during the show," he says. "We don't understand why we were the only ones that got attacked for it."
Despite appearances, Cardenas says the apartment in the video wasn't his. He tells New Times the majority of the guests live in different units at the Icon. Yet Cardenas, who lives in Midtown, says the building had no special screening procedures Saturday for outside guests such as himself.
Representatives for FirstService Residential and Atlantic Pacific, two property management companies that oversee operations at different Icon towers, did not respond to New Times' questions about security protocols for guests during the lockdown.
Cardenas says he can understand why the party videos made people angry.
"We're not following the proper rules," he admits. "We were not six feet away."
For that, he says, he and his friends are sorry. Although he was conscious of the concept of social distancing before Saturday, Cardenas says he's "definitely more aware" after catching flak online.
"We look like assholes," he says. "We understand, and we apologize for what we did."
Although he expressed remorse in his conversation with New Times, Cardenas seemed somewhat uninformed about how the new coronavirus can spread. He expressed confusion at certain critiques, such as his decision to hand out the burgers, which placed him in close proximity to a number of vulnerable homeless people the morning after Guetta's performance.
"Why would people attack me for giving food to somebody in need?" he wondered.
In defending himself, Cardenas noted he recently received a negative result after being tested for COVID-19 in Miami Beach. When New Times suggested that someone at the party could have been an asymptomatic carrier and possibly infected Cardenas and others, he said he planned to self-isolate for a few days.
Cardenas says strangers have left comments on his social media posts threatening to beat him up and that his friend at Icon might get kicked out of her apartment. And he says his job and his friends' jobs are being threatened by people tagging him in posts.
"There's some really mean people on social media," he says.
Mostly, Cardenas wants the world to know he regrets attending the party. And he wants it known that his friends never meant to hurt anyone.
"A lot of those people, they're not troublemakers. They're just regular people. They're professionals," he says. "There was no bad intention."
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