Festival Review: CoS at Ultra Music 2012

“Miami Beach is where neon goes to die.” -Lenny Bruce

According to the company’s website, “DayGlo Color Corp. is the world’s largest manufacturer of daylight fluorescent pigments. We develop technologies that improve and enhance any color, from subtle specialty effects, to glow-in-the-dark pigments, to our classic range of fluorescents.” One might argue they not only improve and enhance any color, but also human beings – that is, if Ultra Music Festival is any indication.

Throughout the festival’s three-day excursion, which sets down on Bayfront Park in Miami each March, thousands upon thousands of festivalgoers brand themselves with the stuff. Anywhere else this style would be considered fashion suicide, but it’s posh within the festival’s confines. In fact, if you don’t have any sort of neon, sparklies, or what have you, it’s as if you’re not one of them. No kidding, they’ll probably think you’re a narc.

As kitschy as DayGlo appears to the layman, it adds an aesthetic that’s oddly futuristic in scope. It may seem uniform, but when everyone’s showcasing radiant blues, yellows, pinks, lime greens, et al., it’s hard to imagine you’re anywhere else but some other post-modern world. It’s like you’re in a live-action rendition of The Jetsons, only it’s really loud, everyone’s zoned out on alcohol or drugs, and even the robots are cute.

Of course, there’s more to this festival than just arbitrary fashion decor, but really, that’s the stuff you remember. The music’s great, with dozens of artists pushing their respective genres, but it’s the people and the friendly community within Ultra that separates it from anywhere else. Look, whenever I told friends or colleagues that I was attending Ultra, I was met with sympathetic eyes, as I was shipping off to war, or something really dangerous – clearly they didn’t know what they were talking about.

Photo by Cap Blackard

I’ve never encountered a more jovial crowd, one thrilled to be alive and away from society. Sure, there’s a likely chance the drugs were doing most of the talking for everyone, but at the end of the day, a happy soul is sure better than an angry one. Also, something dawned on me while I shuffled around the park in a glorious stupor: This is the future.

It’s easy to write Ultra off as an escape to “get fucked up and laid”, but when you’re dancing under thousands of intricate LCD lights, ricocheting an array of colors that somehow go with the extraterrestrial music that’s being pumped out on stage, and everyone’s just synched together mentally, there’s something rather spiritually intelligent about it all. It’s as if there’s this higher plain of existence here that’s being attained, and perhaps we’re the fools for missing out.

You don’t even need the drugs to get there; instead, you just have to lose yourself in the ether, and go in with a sense of humor. Otherwise, you’ll begin to really think hell is on Earth.

-Michael Roffman


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