Ultra means boom, bass or bust — depending on why you are on Biscayne

Scenes from Ultra Music Festival 2016

Crowds enjoy the music at the first day of the Ultra Music Festival Friday, March 18, 2016, at Bayfront Park in Miami.
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Crowds enjoy the music at the first day of the Ultra Music Festival Friday, March 18, 2016, at Bayfront Park in Miami.

The start of Ryan Walters’ and Vivian Garcia’s Ultra Friday found them dropping out of Space onto Biscayne Boulevard, where Walters’ car was parked.

“I parked my car here at 4:30 in the morning,” Walters said. “Went to Space at 5. I’m about to go perform at a pool party on the beach. Then, we’ll go to Ultra. This will be my ninth Ultra. Been going since I was 14 years old. And I’ll be playing at Ultra on Sunday.”

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Walters credits the change from teenage fan to adult performer with his band, Rex, with making him be disciplined and savvy about his enjoyment. Like many twentysomethings walking among the barriers and altered traffic patterns, Walters and Garcia, friends since Coral Gables High, had water.

“I guess the routine changed,” Walters said. “When I was in high school, it was definitely run to Metrorail as soon as school let out as fast as I could. Meet all my friends at the apartment over here. Then, traditionally walking down Biscayne to Bicentennial Park. I could walk down Biscayne and have special memories of that.”

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The Ultra Friday began at 7 a.m., 30 minutes earlier than usual with expanded Ultra hours, inside Cafe Papillon. By 10, a steady stream of strong youth looking to sop up the previous hours’ consumption or start Friday’s consumption kept manager Osain Rodriguez too busy to talk to anybody not ordering, making, picking up or distributing food. At one point, phone-in orders trapped Rodriguez with a phone handset against each ear.

Friday morning, downtown Miami, with the Ultra music festival hours away

Several patrons recognized Latin Grammy winner Nicky Jam quietly killing his breakfast out of a Styrofoam box. Photos ensued.

As Nicky Jam politely posed for a photo with each fan, he explained to an unenlightened customer, “I do Spanish music,” in the manner of someone who plays quinces parties on the weekends, not someone who’ll be playing AmericanAirlines Arena in April.

Karin Schmid lives above Cafe Papillon, on the west side.

“I’m more worried right now because I’m in finals for school,” Schmid said. “So if I hear that boom! boom! boom! all the time, I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

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The Ultra Friday was cut short for some of those in the offices along Biscayne Boulevard. Thursday’s Ultra preparations and sound testing caused one law firm to move its meeting from the conference room with windows overlooking the big stage.

On Friday, masses of people, auto traffic and bass drove money into the downtown area while driving some businesses into the weekend a few hours early.

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David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal

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