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Take away the fashion and Ultra Music Festival wouldn’t be quite the same.
Odd personalities and neon roamed free at Bicentennial Park in downtown Miami on both Friday and Saturday as the world’s top DJs, bands and producers performed on 16 different stages for more than 70,000 people.
“[I’m here] for the music, of course. Why else would I be at Ultra?” said first-timer Damian Mejia of San Jose, who sported an inflatable gator on his back and called himself Gator Man. “I wore a gator because I’m in Florida and I need to represent for my Cali people. I’m giving myself a vacation and I don’t know how I’m going to top this.”
Garrett “Tank” Jones of Diamond Bar, Calif., meanwhile, wore only red spandex and a pimp hat because he “loves this country so much.”
This year’s hottest trend among women: furry leg warmers.
“They make your feet look cute and chunky like a pony,” Chloé Boulanger said. “And ponies are my favorite.”
She and Julia Doltchinkova, who is originally from Bulgaria but now lives in Miami, have been sporting the look for the past four festivals.
“This is what I wait for all year,” Doltchinkova said. “I’ve lost sleep and not eaten for like weeks. Me and her were on diets. We planned our outfits since September. It took a good month to put together.”
But despite all the talk about clothing, or the lack thereof, the main draw to the 11th annual festival was acts like The Prodigy, Tiesto, Carl Cox, Moby and Timbaland.
Texas native Daniel Vasquez stood and waited in the front row with a group of friends since 4 p.m. only to learn five hours later that his favorite band, Bloc Party, would not perform due to lead singer Kele Okereke’s case of viral pharyngitis. No official announcement regarding the cancellation was ever made to the crowd by Ultra officials.
As The Black Eyed Peas took the stage for their first performance together since 2007, a disappointed Vasquez began to find his way out of the mass of people and had a few choice words.
“Screw Fergie,” he shouted.
Others, like Grace Heisenbot, who made it to the front row around 4:30 p.m. with her friend Amanda, didn’t mind the absence of the London-based group.
“I was really excited for The Ting Tings and they were amazing. They’re my favorite,” said Heisenbot, a native of Miami. “[Bloc Party not being here] just means David Guetta and The Black Eyed Peas will come sooner!”
Besides the live performances, thousands flocked inside tents for laser light shows, sat atop a hill overlooking the main stage, and consumed alcoholic beverages and a variety of foods ranging from gyros to pizza.
Exclaimed Jones, “‘Epic’ could be the only word to possibly describe something as beautiful and magical as this experience.”
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