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💃 After years of protracted squabbles, it seems Ultra Music Festival has finally cemented its home in downtown Miami. Yesterday, the legendary music gathering released a joint statement with the Downtown Neighbors Alliance announcing that the two parties had resolved their longstanding disagreements. This opens the door for Ultra to take place at Bayfront Park on March 25-27, 2022 without fussing or fighting between the festival, local officials, and downtown residents.
The statement from Ultra’s spokesperson, Ray Martinez, said in part that “[w]e look forward to continuing to partner with area residents with the common goal of advancing a shared vision of sustainable coexistence, which will allow us to continue showcasing Miami and its local culture as the dance music capital of the world.”
If I — hi, Zach here 👋 — can editorialize for a second: Ultra was the first music festival I ever wrote about in a professional capacity, pieces on Okeechobee Music & Arts Festival for my college newspaper notwithstanding. Even before I relocated to the 305, I deprioritized my MWF 7 a.m. class and the corresponding 30-odd page paper I had due in order to make the trip down from Gainesville and write about the fest for Miami New Times. Since then, Ultra has been a permanent fixture of my social and professional life, even during the strange period of time where I worked as a litigation reporter. 😜
Over the last five or so years, I’ve been there for the transcendent performances, disappointing sets (not naming names 😉), fleeting fears that the festival would leave Miami entirely, and ill-fated excursions to Virginia Key. Like many, my relationship with Ultra hasn’t always been an especially smooth one. But imperfect though it might be, the fest and cultural events like it are what make Miami — or any major city for that matter — worth living in. Maybe it’s the romantic in me, but I’m hopeful that after two years off, Ultra will return in 2022 complete with the locale it’s most associated with, and put on a party for the books. 🙏
In other news...
🎥 Speaking of Miami-based cultural gatherings, Third Horizon Film Festival is returning and will be taking place on June 24 through July 1. This will be the collective’s fifth celebration of Caribbean cinema, as it was one of the rare gatherings that just skirted by before the world shut down in March 2020. Filmmaker Jason Fitzroy Jeffers, one of Third Horizon’s co-founders, explained the decision to keep the fest’s 2021 edition mostly virtual in a must-read Instagram post. Jeffers wrote that the move was largely motivated by wanting to adopt a stance of solidarity with the Caribbean and other communities still struggling with the pandemic. He pointedly noted that the capacity for the UK and U.S. to reopen while much of the world remains at the mercy of COVID-19 — compounded by an international shortage of vaccine supplies — is rooted in "a history of wrongdoing and neglect." (Third Horizon via Instagram)
🚴 Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced two new public safety initiatives earlier this week. One, “Bike 305,” is meant to encourage best practices on bicycling around the 305. The other, “Vision Zero,” is an ambitious program aiming to eliminate all traffic-related cycling fatalities and serious injuries by 2030. (CBS Miami / Mayor Daniella Levine Cava via Instagram)
🛳 Royal Caribbean is slated to begin test voyages from PortMiami as soon as June 20. The cruise line announced it received the go-ahead from the CDC to start simulated sailings with post-pandemic precautions in place. If you’d like to set off for the seas yourself, this unofficial Royal Caribbean fan blog has information on how you can volunteer to participate in these test cruises. (WPLG Local 10)