The time of year is upon us: The Kiwanis Club of Little Havana is shutting down Eighth Street March 11 for the world’s biggest Latin block party. Needless to say, we are pumped for the music, the food, the people watching. Calle Ocho is Miami residents’ chance to let all their respective flags fly and celebrate the different cultures that make Miami so unique.
Are you ready for Calle Ocho? If not, this survival guide will get you up speed on what you need to know to max out on fun.
You will dance. You will walk. Your feet will hurt. Don’t be that dummy trying to profile in a pair of platform heels. “Oh, but I can only dance salsa in heels,” you say. Stop it. Put on some flats or carry some Band Aids in your purse.
Plan out your free concert watching
Twenty blocks and 12 stages. That is a lot. And no, you are not going to know when anybody takes the stage because this is Calle Ocho, and we are in Miami. Check the website for the full line up, but the stage that is going to be LIT is the Tú 94.9 stage, located at Eighth Street and 12th Avenue. On the line up: Chyno, Jowell y Randy, Natty Natasha, Leslie Grace and Rakim y Ken Y among others.
If you don’t know who any of those people are, hit the I Love the ’80s stage a block away at 13th Court. They have a line up with freestyle stars like Johnny O, Cynthia and other throwback acts. The Sprint Stage at 22nd Avenue is where you need to be to see Willy Chirino (at 4:30 p.m.) and Carnaval King Carlos Oliva at 5:30 p.m. Tito Puente Jr will be headlining at 5 p.m. at the Miami Herald Stage at 24th Avenue.
Don’t miss the Croqueta Contest
El Croquetazo is one of the highlights of the event. Grown folks gather together to see who can shove the most croquetas into their faces. There are three categories: Amateur, Celebrity and Professional. Everything about this sounds wrong and watching it will fill you will disgust and wonder. But at the end of the day, everyone in Miami knows that there is no such thing as enough croquetas.
Bring your appetite
We know there will be croquetas galore, but at Calle Ocho the full culinary might of Miami’s Latin cuisine is out in force. Get ready for arepas, pinchos, tacos, pulled pork sanguiches, chicharrones, tostones – basically anything that is fried. You are going to work it all off dancing, so just go with it.
Get ready to be bumped
The Kiwanis Club of Little Havana throws out the number 1 million people every year, but even if those numbers are off, Calle Ocho is still packed.
Look at this crowd:
So here is a bit of advice: Cogelo con take it easy. You are going to be bumped and jostled. Drinks will be spilled, and toes will be stepped on. But that is the beauty of Calle Ocho. It’s a hot mess of people, but everyone is having fun.
Calle Ocho Street Festival
10 a.m.-7 p.m. March 11 on Calle Ocho (Eighth Street) from SW 12th-27th Avenues; free