When the Ultra Music Festival came back to Miami this year it brought us the music talents of Deadmau5, Tiesto, Kaskade, and Diplo but also a laundry list of negative incidents. The pall cast over the event was so severe that Miami mayor Tomas Regalado and city commissioner Marc Sarnoff tried to get Ultra to leave town for good. The two filed a motion to ban the festival from the city. However the city council overruled them, filing a motion affirming Ultra’s contract with the city, voting in favor of the musical mayhem by a count of four votes to one.
Among the incidents documented at the festival this year included a stampede that severely injured a security guard on the festival’s first day. Equally worrying, about 76 arrests took place throughout the event and 118 people were left with injuries that required medical attention. And then a 21-year-old man was found dead in his car from a suspected overdose after attending the show.
This was way worse than anything expected for an event that – although described by organizers themselves as a “giant rave” – was never before the site of quite so much illegal activity.
But despite the dark happenings, 2014 was in many ways a musical revelation at Ultra. Deadmau5 took center stage, filing in for Avicii who was nursing a ruptured gallbladder. Festival attendees were treated to a grand array of musical superstardom, including the likes of Diplo, ZEDD, MGMT, and M.I.A.
And now Ultra’s future in Miami, thought to be up in the air, has now been secured – albeit with sweeping changes. Officials gave their blessings on the condition that police will replace the overwhelmed private security firms. There will now be a helpline set up for area residents to call to report any complaints. There will also be a zero tolerance policy for drug use with counseling sessions set up at the event to deal with offenders. City Council members love the revenue that the event brings in, but it remains to be seen what effect these changes will have on Ultra’s future popularity.