Music & Nightlife

Friendships blossom, beats drop at Ultra Miami

Electronic music fans dance to the pulsing beats of Ultra Music Festival in downtown Miami on Saturday, March 19, 2016.
Electronic music fans dance to the pulsing beats of Ultra Music Festival in downtown Miami on Saturday, March 19, 2016.

For best friends Jackie Rey and Arianna Palacios, Ultra Music Festival is where it all started.

The 18-year-olds from Kendall met three years ago at the stage where international DJs are showcased, easily hitting it off while they were awash in the deep bass and pulsing rhythms of their favorite electronic music.

“We met, we started talking, and we loved the music,” Palacios said Saturday. They were sitting near the throng of dancing revelers at that same stage where they crossed paths three years ago.

“We became best friends,” Palacios said. She and Rey wore complementary fringe bikinis they made together just for Ultra. Rey rocked pink, and Palacios wore blue.

Their story is emblematic of the mind-set that fuels electronic dance music culture — PLUR, which stands for peace, love, unity and respect. Thousands packed Bayfront Park again Saturday for the second day of throbbing beats, South Florida sunshine and PLUR at Ultra.

Michael Vilar, 19, flew down from Nutley, New Jersey, for his second festival this year. Clad in only beaded bracelets and a lime green thong swimsuit that left little to the imagination, he did something nearly unheard of in Miami’s traffic-choked landscape: He lauded Miami’s Metrorail system for helping him get easily from his hotel in Coconut Grove.

“It’s better than the train where I’m from,” he said. “That branches off here and there, but doesn’t take you where you want go.”

Photo gallery: Day 1 of Ultra Music Festival 2016

Like many others, Vilar said he grew up listening to the electronic music of his parents. He developed a deep love for the dance-heavy, positive atmosphere that surrounds the genre.


Met some very nice people enjoying #Ultra in #Miami. Saw @afrobeta jam & hand out stickers to the crowd.

A photo posted by Joey Flechas (@joeflech) on

The rumbling bass at the park resumed around midday Saturday for the second of the three-day festival. Revelers in brightly colored, barely there outfits bounced to sounds that boomed throughout downtown Miami. Local artists like Afrobeta rocked under a beating afternoon sun, thanking dancing fans by giving them stickers from the stage. Internationally known acts like DVBBS got thousands to jump at the drop of the beat, when flames shot out from an elaborate set-up on the main stage.

“I love this music,” said David Maldonado, 24, who traveled from Hermosillo, Mexico, for his first Ultra. He was also impressed by downtown. “It’s cool to be by all these skyscrapers.”

Police did not report any major issues at the festival, which typically attracts about 50,000 people per day. It will continue on Sunday.