There just aren’t enough events in South Florida like the Virginia Key GrassRoots Festival of Music & Dance – and certainly very few with names as long. Few gatherings around these parts even attempt to invoke the spirit of Woodstock (minus the torrential rains, bad acid, food shortages and sanitation issues, of course), much less pull it off.
But this family-friendly, four-day festival, which hits the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park on Key Biscayne this weekend for a fifth year, definitely captures that groovy, peaceful vibe that hippies always strived for in the ‘60s – that is, when they weren’t protesting something.
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Here’s a quick guide to the Top 5 things to do at the GrassRoots Fest:
1. Dance to the Music
These four days will be overflowing with soulful, happy music that sounds best in the sunshine, with more than 50 bands on four different stages, including The Family Stone (of R&B/funk pioneer Sly and the Family Stone fame – no, Sly won’t be along for the ride) performing classics including “Everyday People,” “Dance to the Music” and “I Want to Take You Higher.” Other headliners include Colorado folk trio The Wood Brothers, upstate New York folk-rock fave Donna the Buffalo (and its fans The Herd), Gainesville funk and soul singer Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Grammy-winning alt-country Nashville treasure Jim Lauderdale, and jazzy Cuban hip-hop and reggaeton singer Danay Suarez.
2. Camp It Up
One of the best parts of the festival is that you don’t actually have to go home at the end of each night, if you play your cards right. Register for the festival’s on-site beachfront camping (choose from Tent, Vehicle or RV Camping) and party like a champion, secure and smug in the knowledge that there will be no potential issue later on with the ill-advised operation of a motor vehicle. And did we mention “beachfront” camping? Yes, we did. Very cool.
You will see dancin’ fools who gleefully take to heart the cliché “Dance like no one’s watching.” (Except they are). And at Silent Disco, you will see a whole crowd dancing in unison like no one’s listening, because they’re all wearing headphones that keep the beats private. You will see guys roaming around with acoustic guitars warbling Jason Mraz hits who are under the impression that others actually came to hear them (dude, there’s a reason you’re not onstage, OK?). You’ll see parents who think letting their runny-nosed offspring wander around barefoot, stepping in God knows what, is a sign of higher evolution rather than simple laziness, apathy or ignorance. And you will see at least a few ladies (who perhaps took a wrong turn on the way to LIV Nightclub?) lurching around in the dirt wearing six-inch heels.
4. Drink Beer
Nothing is better at a hot outdoor festival than a cold beer, and the Beer Garden & Vinyl Lounge offers the perfect respite from the sun. Taste the various craft beer offerings of the Wynwood Arts District’s Concrete Beach Brewery while mellowing out to DJs spinning chill tunes, and you just might “forget” to leave.
5. Say “Namaste”
No self-respecting festival would be complete without catering to the New Age-consciousness crowd, and this one’s got spiritual enlightenment out the wazoo. Check out the Meditation and Movement Arts Tent, which is full of classes offering all kinds of yoga that will help you achieve Happy Hips, find the Art of Relaxation or discover your Tantric Flow (hello!). Or head over to the Zen Village and ease your mind with a Tea Ceremony, get a massage, experience acupuncture, endure a psychic reading and balance your chakra. Ommmm….