Music is only part of the fun at Ultra

Posted March 24, 2019


After months of waiting, Tiffany Hart, a 22-year-old Electric Dance Music festival enthusiast, has night-before jitters – her impatience has hit its peak; her sparkly, pixie-like sequin crop top and booty shorts are laid out on her bed; her flower-patterned fanny pack is filled with her festival necessities.

Miami-ers all know Ultra as the music festival of the year – the EDM festival of all festivals, the hierarch of the rave world. A haven for the most famous headlining DJ’s: Tiesto, Martin Garrix, the Chainsmokers – they unite and perform for three consecutive days.

In the hours leading up to the Ultra Music Festival, Hart spends her Friday glamming herself up until she looks rave ready. She slicks her hair back into two braids, she coats her chest with a layer of chunky purple glitter and double knots her silver, platform shuffling sneakers – Ultra season has commenced. 

But is Ultra justabout the music? Take a closer look… literally. 

As Ultra Miami quickly approaches – taking place between March 29 and March 31 this year – thousands of Ultra-goers are starting to assemble their wacky outfits to flaunt during the weekend. 

Virginia Key will look like a rainbow from space. 

Neon-colored bikinis and Tu-tus, fur-covered stockings, light-up bras flashing colors from pink to yellow, red to blue. Crystal-bedazzled tops, skimpy metallic shorts and sparkling dancing shoes.

The colors, the raunchiness – is this a trend, a culture or a statement? Or perhaps all of the above? 

Dressing for raves may just be one factor of a party-filled weekend for some; however, some would agree that music festivals are a sign that these wildly popular events have become some of the safest places for limitless means of self-expression. 

“As someone who goes to Ultra every year, as well as many other EDM concerts and festivals, I find that it’s built into the culture now. Dress how you want to, be free and who you are. It follows the vibe,” said Hart.

Dance music enthusiasts have made a name for themselves – the Rave King and Queens. Since EDM festivals – or raves – gained popularity in the 1990s, there has been a dramatic shift in wardrobe guidelines for music festivals: That is… increased nakedness. 

“When I went to my first EDM raves in the ‘90s, people wore big, baggy clothing that wasn’t very sexy or revealing,” said Stu Lepner, 40, a longtime raver from Miami. “Now, you see men’s and women’s bodies wherever you look.” 

“I think when women allow themselves to be more playful with how they dress, there’s backlash,” said Ryan Cooper, 29, an operations manager for Ultra Miami. “But the standards for music festivals are different than standard reality.” 

Let’s be real – there’s a lotof skin to see at Ultra, or any music festival, for that matter. Most men are shirtless or sleeveless, exposing their chest and arms.

“For guys, I think it’s less of a fashion statement and more of a ‘Yo, look how jacked I look in this tank top,” said Hart. 

“The craziest outfit I’ve ever seen was at Ultra Miami last year. A girl was dressed in a bright-red, fully sequined bra and bottoms with a giant crown that looked like dragon horns,” said Alejandra Mandez, a Miami resident and annual Ultra attendee from Madrid, Spain. “She also had pink, scale-textured stockings that extended up to her thighs.

Taking away the people and the outfits, Ultra is any EDM-lover’s playground. The multi-stage event creates a utopia throughout the festival grounds; the bass from beat drops echoes through the crowds; incredible lights and fire displays are a show within itself. 

“For me, festivals are a no-judge zone. Sometimes I feel sub-conscious showing my body. But at a festival, everyone is there to have a good time with no stress. It’s the epitome of freedom of expression,” said Lauren Carrie, a member of Project HEAL at the University of Miami, an organization for eating disorder awareness and recovery.

As music festival season kicks into gear, rave-outfit websites and stores stock up on Ultra inventory, selling out of their most-wanted attire to flash. 

“About two months before, we start getting all of our Ultra clothing in. Girls leave here with bags full of neon shorts and sparkly bras,” said Krista Muñez, an employee at Miami Twice, an exotic clothing store located at 6562 SW 40th St. “It’s a madhouse in here the week before Ultra.”

If you are unaware of the music festival’s eccentric attire guidelines, here are a few tips to help with the outfit search:

Less is more.

I mean, I guess it does make sense that people would choose to wear the bare minimum while outdoors in the March Miami heat, surrounded by a crowd of thousands of people. Let’s face it – it gets hot. Perhaps jeans aren’t the bottom of choice. Or for guys, perhaps you’ll want to rock the skins look. 

Get crazy with color 

While many choose to take the neon route – whether it be pink, green, blue, yellow or all of the above – the bright-and-tight look has become a popular and somewhat simple trend to take part in. For those who are more ambitious, body paint is becoming more and more popular: Picassifiy yourself with a sparkly work of art on your body, if you dare… 

Try a face mask or bandana 

Though some people may find it frightening to look at, a face mask is not only a hit in the Ultra look-book, but also a means of sanitary precaution. In a crowd of tens of thousands of people, germs are enjoying the rave just as much as you are. Therefore, protecting your eyes and mouth can help to reduce chances of contracting germs. 

Bring a fanny pack or camel back 

After the best day of some people’s lives, you’ll hear devastating stories about people losing their personal belongings – phones, wallets, keys, and such. It’s important to keep your values safe. Due to higher security measures taken in recent years, Ultra prevents people from bringing in large bags to the festival; therefore, bring something small that is easily wearable and portable that you can keep an eye on. You can even spice it up to have it match your glammed-up outfit. 

If You Go

Ultra Miami Festival


Miami Marine Stadium Flex Park
3501 Rickenbacker Causeway
Miami, Fla. 33149


Historic Virginia Key Beach Park
4020 Virginia Beach
Miami, Fla. 33149


Friday, March 29:
2 p.m. – 2 a.m.

Saturday, March 30:
2 p.m. – 2 a.m.

Sunday, March 31:
2 p.m. – 2 a.m.

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