By: David Vallecillo
Floridians and fans of dance music are taking the opportunity of attending three major music festivals in Florida’s major cities every year, including one known worldwide. From a music scene that made its mark with its first music festival in 1999 with about 1,000 people attending to today where attendance rose to 50,000-150,000 people. Whether you’re a regular festival goer or someone curious on what the hype is all about, attending at least one major dance music festival is something you have to experience at least once in your life.
Many expect to listen to EDM, dance, sing, and enjoy being “Under The Electric Sky”, however, these festivals have more things going on within the crowds. As an attendant of all three major music festivals, I can say that you’ll have a lot more stories to tell than saying you “had fun”.
Ultra Music Festival, located in Miami, is the world’s most recognized EDM festival along with being voted World’s Number One Music Festival by DJ Mag for two years straight. This festival happens every March and only the best DJs play as they can debut their newest songs to 150,000 people. Ultra also live streamed through Youtube.com and found thousands of fans streaming all over the world. As popular and fun the idea of attending Ultra seems, it is also very dangerous. I attended Ultra 2015 where everyone around me had to be more cautious because of the increased security and police. City leaders proposed to shut down Ultra completely because of the many drug incidents; fights, medical incidents, and public intoxications that took place the year before.
During Ultra, I enjoyed the production and quality of all the stages along with the sounds from the prestigious DJs. If I had to say the worst part about my experience at Ultra it would be seeing some people having bad reactions to their drug where they moved unconsciously and uncontrollably along with seeing sexual intercourse in a “Friendly John” port potty. I would only recommend Ultra to those who have experience with music festivals.
That same year I attended Sunset Music Festival in Tampa. Sunset happens every May at Raymond James Stadium where more up and coming DJs and artists play. It is small scaled in production compared to Ultra but safer, friendlier vibes from the crowd and staff. People were dancing with the security guards! This festival was the fewest in attendance of out the major three although I saw that as an advantage because of the extra space to dance away. With the festival scenery being more beach-like I felt that this is a perfect way to start off your summer.
The most local of the major three music festivals is EDC Orlando where I attended in 2016. EDC stands for Electronic Dance Carnival and is the only music festival with rides in it including the well-known Ferris wheel where you can view the main stage from the ride. EDC Orlando was made possible by the famous promoter group, Insomniac, who also hosts the prestigious EDC Las Vegas. This festival was where I experienced true rave culture and the epitome of what the scene is all about. People wore unique outfits and costumes as this festival was popular for allowing people to express themselves in an environment where others do not judge appearance. There was also the custom of exchanging plastic bead bracelets known as “Kandi” that is initiated by two individuals who connect their piece signs together followed by the interlocking of hands where the exchange happens and a final hug. I saw a more mystic and fairy-like scenery with their main stage included a giant owl looking around the crowd. The phrase “Under The Electric Sky” derived from this festival as it was meant to express the love the EDM community had for each other along with uniting under music.
After asking students if they had ever experienced going an EDM festival before and many of them attended at least one. LSSC Student Zach Ray said, “The EDM scene is definitely growing in Florida. You’ll see a lot more people attending these events in the coming years.”