You may wonder why the selfie to open this article but the very first thing I found out about Ultra is that the experience is so much more with a rave family. Perhaps I was the wide eyed first timer that found the happiness immediately I entered into Bayfront Park but to experience it with friends new and old made it extraordinary.
It’s a melting pot of culture and countries yet it all meshes together seamlessly, we were Aussie, Dutch, Honduras and Americans and yet we all co-existed within those fences for three days that left me smiling for days after the end, even remarking I would be grateful if GroundHog Day was a thing so I could wake up and do it all again.
I took a VIP experience being the ‘ravemom’ of the entire group and was impressed by the friendliness of security into Ultra, trading my first kandi with the lovely lady who checked my bag. The VIP entry was quick and efficient compared to the GA where my friends were stuck for over two hours. As I wandered down the bridge on Biscayne Bay with the blue water on one side and the beat and energy from Ultra on my left the excitement built rapidly. I was nervous, excited and full of anticipation that I was making a long time dream come true. An aside here: being an Australian, the exercise to get to Ultra is extremely expensive and time consuming so I do envy the USA for having it within their country. The first thing I spied was the Arcadia Spider which loomed large in the corner and we made it the meeting place when we were separated going to different stages. It worked well considering it was right by the VIP exit and entry points.
Friday was the longest it took for anyone to enter and while I waited patiently for the others I enjoyed some sets at the Spider and ventured into explore the VIP area on offer. It had a three tiered deck with white lounge suites, tables with phone connectivity. Carpet and a canopy which on the Friday only had to shield the sunshine. It afforded a decent side on view to the main stage and it’s hard to describe my feelings as I gazed on that gargantuan structure for the first time in real life. It truly is a spectacular setting and considering we drove past it on the Thursday afternoon noticing they were still building it, a testament to the workers who must continue through the night to have all stages ready for Friday’s beginning.
I may be the only one who didn’t consider the prices of food and alcohol to be excessive but if anyone has been in Australia to experience our prices they would understand $5 for water and $12 for a beer isn’t that bad at all. I did, however, notice only two water stations and in the three days we found neither of them so they were pretty well hidden and I felt that was one of the only negatives in this huge festival.
I could now talk about the artists we saw but we all like different things and if you were there I am sure there has been much written and heard via the sets uploaded onto Ultra TV so the next thing that I loved was dancing to Tiesto in the monumental downpour of the Saturday evening and night. There is something special in thousands of people standing in the pouring rain with the lasers piercing the torrential rain, the driving beat of the music and not one complaint. It’s perhaps a Tiesto set I will remember quite fondly for all time. The ability of the staff to clean up the mud after so much rain on Saturday again said they work tirelessly. I did ruin my white Vans in VIP with the exit from the deck being 4 inches of black mud that the security guard did not mention as he helped me down the wet steel stairway, if he had mentioned it I would have jumped down barefoot! Sadly the shoes went to shoe heaven the next day and I wore flip flops which were fine due to plenty of straw and wood chips being laid over night in the worst spots.
Of all the structures built to house the artists, I felt perhaps the megastructure for ASOT is slightly small for that Sunday gathering and quite close to Worldwide which meant quite a crush for people to exit and enter those two stages. Being in VIP afforded a view looking down on the rest and noticing the crowding. I do love a trance crowd though that allowed people room to dance and never pushed forward in rave trains and if they did move through were all polite to say excuse me. I understand the urgency to see your favorite artists but ignorance isn’t something that wins you any friends. Luckily those incidences were few and far between for me as I wasn’t about to wind my way through the throng at main stage!
I can ramble on forever on what a time I had but there are many out there who understand the enormity of being in an environment where the love and happiness is the only two viable emotions to be had. The end was overwhelming to me that I had tears among the smiles. To the friends I met from places unlikely such as Denny’s after the last day who will all remain cherished friends for a lifetime. I believe if death is inevitable I hope there are places like this in heaven because I’d be quite happy to stay an eternity. Thanks Ultra, see you next year, I’m hooked!