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March 31, 2014

Filmmaker Billy Corben on Miami dumping Ultra: "Getting rid of Ultra is a myopic, generationally-tone deaf solution"


With the controversy and horrific accident involving a security guard at Ultra heating up the social media airwaves over the weekend, Miami-based filmmaker Billy Corben, known for, among other things, his outspoken views on the Miami zeitgeist, couldn't help but make comparisons to the recent hip hop documentary he and partner Alfred Spellman directed and produced for VH1.
"The situation reminds me so much of 'The Tanning of America' and the general pushback on hip hop and violence at concerts," Corben told us. "My heart goes out to security guard Erica Mack, who I hope will make a complete and speedy recovery. This was a disturbing, potentially avoidable incident and calls for a thorough investigation to ensure that those responsible are held accountable and real solutions are developed to prevent it from reoccurring in the future."
So will there be an Ultra documentary in Corben's repertoire? That would be a resounding no, and not because he agrees with the Mayor and thinks it should pack up and leave town for good. Quite the opposite, in fact.
"Ultra is not for me. I've never been, nor is it likely I'll ever go. But that's what makes Miami Miami: there's something for everyone. We should not allow one tragic incident to derail the 15 year tradition and impact of an internationally recognized event.

Ultra is far more culturally relevant and economically stimulating than the soccer stadium proposal that local politicos are presently salivating over--by the way, if you're interested in reducing trampling incidents, you should probably avoid soccer stadiums. Getting rid of Ultra is a myopic, generationally-tone deaf solution. Mayor Regalado sounds a bit like John Lithgow in Footloose. And, like Rev. Moore, I hope he will someday see the light (of the glow stick).
I don't recall this kind of outrage from Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado and Commissioner Marc Sarnoff when, in 2011, Sgt. Javier Ortiz and a group of Miami Police officers beat, choked, tasered (three times) and wrongfully arrested a tourist at Ultra over a glow stick. A video revealed that the cops (two of whom were later arrested in an unrelated Federal extortion and bribery investigation and pleaded guilty) lied in their reports and allegedly committed perjury in sworn depositions. State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle took no action against the tourist or officers.
According to the tourist, as he laid bruised, battered and tasered on the ground, fearing for his life, one of the cops said, “Welcome to Miami, bitch." Isn't that just so Miami?  
Last year, during fierce negotiations over Ultra's second weekend, Commissioner Sarnoff reportedly compelled festival organizers to cover all costs associated with a federal lawsuit filed against the city by that tourist beaten by Miami cops. So, if they get rid of Ultra, who's going to pay for their police brutality cases?" 


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Maria Frederick

What is myopic is claiming that officials are calling for an end to Ultra over one sad, incident. I have lived downtown in the bldg. directly across from Ultra for the past 4yrs. Ultra is not only a huge inconvenience but the noise becomes unbearable. Throngs of "kids" roaming downtown feeling entitled; not to mention those that are so high they don't know where they are. For us residents, Ultra is not just 1 weekend because the set up and tear down take over a month. Come live in my bldg. and then talk about Ultra!!!

Gustavo santos

So because it bothers you and creates an inconvenience in YOUR life the rest of the people that enjoy the celebration have to suffer? It is not fair what happened to that lady. Maybe the concert should hire police officers to prevent this from happening. But to cancel the entire thing... that is backwards and plain stupid.

John Smith

Grow some balls Billy Corben. It is clear to anyone who has attended ultra and the countless WMC events, that it is unsustainable. There will be more incidents.

Robin - Miami Resident

Ultra in its present state has to go..Its grown to big for its current home at Bayfront Park..BUT it would also be a shame to cancel the whole festival altogether..There has to be a happy medium..either an open field somewhere in Dade or maybe the parking lot of SUN LIFE Stadium..If it does stay in Bayfront then I think organizers need to spend more money on security by hiring real cops to manage the fences.. and pay more in insurance and liability so that if there another "accident" then they are held fully responsible..By my estimation they gross 78 million dollars (165,000 people X $475 a ticket )..Get them to pay for the full restoration and pay for the yearly operational cost of the fountain..


Move it to an open field like every other music festival in America does with theirs, away from the City. Bonnaroo, Coachella, etc.


Put a cap on individual DJ pay for the county. Let's see who really gives a shit about the music.


Having never been, he's talking out of his ass. How about commenting on something you've personally observed rather than blowing smoke? I've been in 2001, 2002, and last year scoped it for a day on a free ticket. Its changed, and is now a haven for the American "bro" i.e. raging jerks with no respect for anything around them. I live one block from the festival in one of the high rises across the street and love tech house, and many forms of dance music, have for 15 years. But in the past few years its evident to anyone who has followed the "tradition" that its turned into an agro bro-fest of steroid heads and pushy runts. Bayfront is too small an area and too congested a space to protect. The festival has grown, and grown, and grown. Why? Money. It pumps in money to the festival itself, and the organizers make out like bandits, without offering so much as access to clean water at the event as you can find at many festivals that I've been to across Europe and the States. It pumps money into the local hotels, but there are several business owners in the downtown area who shutter up for the week since they know that the zombie horde is about to descend and not buy anything from them, unless it involves party favors or booze. No fine dining for these. Miami Music Week pumps massive money into the economy; Ultra benefits primarily through the massive profits, but even without it the MMW week will add plenty to the area. Check your facts, Corbin. Moving the festival to a campground area is the logical next step before we have a love parade or EDC LA incident. City is rightfully concerned.


I wonder how many Rave Events are organized in the middle of the Financial-Residential areas??? How Many??? The whole community of Downtown Miami have been highjacked once again for the desperate need of the City of Miami to make money. The sound bass was so strong that it reach the Icon in Brickell. We are talking here of millions of Property Taxes here every year, something that should weight a lot more than 3 days of Drug Consumption Orgy. Have anyone seen how the park looked this morning???? DEAD and Muddy. How much do you think it cost to replenish the entire park with new grass? The stations of the Metro Mover stink, and the Mover cars with a sticky layer of alcohol, drinks and god knows what esle. Honestly people, Downtown has been promoted a Metropolitan Stylish Living, why the City of Miami is prostituting us??? The Ultra needs to be moves some where else, a stadium or industrial areas, not residential.

Conscious Groover

LOL at the Miami residents bad math.. FYI its $475 for a 3 DAY TICKET.. not $475 per day.. So lets break that down.. $475 x 55,000 = $26,125,000.. Oh and it also costs roughly $20-25mil to produce the event.. Police are hired.. eeerrr not hired but the city is reimbursed for the police officers time.. that bill should come in to the tune of $300k per day.. The event is estimated to bring in $100mil to the local economy.. I dont know Florida tax rates but between the marked up police overtime and estimated tax revenue of about $20mil from local businesses i'd say Ultra probably isnt going anywhere..


Conscious Groover smart ass, huh? You have no idead. Ultra is leaving downtown, may be next year you can take all that dirty money into homestead, may be Hialeah. No more steeping over Miami residents

Dope FIsh

Jaime, please see the annual 3-day event "Lollapalooza" in downtown Chicago for that reference. That event draws MILLIONS to downtown Chicago every year. You are an over-zealous moron.

Dope FIsh

You downtown residents really have no heart or soul to actually believe that this event gives your city a bad name. No, if anything, YOU give your city a bad name due to ignorance and lack of tolerance for younger people to party in your city. Good grief.


Is Mayor Regalado going to shut down Calle Ocho as well? This guy is still in critical condition because he asked one of those drunken animals to stop peeing on his lawn.


and here's another shooting from the previous year.


Regalado = Typical Scumbag Hypocrite


It is apparent that Ultra has outgrown Bayfront. I'm no expert, but I think it's a lot larger than the Electric Daisy Carnival in LA, which is held at the former Olympic stadium, a much more appropriate location given all the crowd control and traffic issues.
Move it to somewhere that has the room for it, and is a more secure facility from a crowd control standpoint.

What about the Homestead Speedway? ;)


A larger facility could also offer better amenities and potentially make the festival both safer and more successful. I never attended this festival, but I did go to many raves back in the 90s-early 2000s. I was always surprised that there were not more deaths/overdoses given the Miami heat combined with excessive E consumption. Especially now, seeing these pictures of so many ravers crowded in the heat. Moving to another venue would allow more room for the amenities that would make the festival safer and better organized, and enjoyable for attendees.

David nH Lynch

OK...1-horrific incident. Compare that to the beach's Urban Memorial Day weekend's history. Keep it going Miami!


2 of my friends an I have attended this year to UMF, coming SPECIALLY FROM BARCELONA... I think this event is totally incredible and would be a very bad idea to ban it from its current location, wich by the way is what makes it so special...

Of course, like in every big event (football match, or whatever...) you have a rotten apple out of, lets say, every 5000 persons that attend to it. So this makes it unfair for the rest of 4999 having an amazing and respectful time... We should not be hypocrits


I. Feelquiet

Ultra is too big for Bayfront Park. It should have been kept in Bicentennial Park, but of course, our politicians got rid of the last large open parkland downtown to erect two museums that will cost the public hundreds of millions of dollars. Ultra at least brings in money, instead of costing us the millions of dollars that all the white elephants built on public parkland downtown cost (including AA Arena, let's not forget).

Perhaps Ultra should move to Tampa. The kids will follow. Leave downtown Miami to the soul-sucking lawyers and real estate brokers, and the politicians in their pockets (yeah, that's you, Sarnoff. I guess Ultra organizers forgot to stuff your envelope).


ultra should be at least 18+ its disgusting to see 12 yr olds all drugged out. it should also be in a stadium or some other controlled place. also a park , fenced in with 150,000 and only one entrance/exit is a huge hazard. ultra need to leave where it is and go elsewhere and make some major changes. this includes not shutting down the water 3 hrs before the end of ultra, very dangerous.


"Avoid soccer stadiums" what an ignorant comment. I guess no other sport seems to have fan behavior issues. Regarding UTRA, go and then voice your opinion. Again your views on this issue are baseless since you have never been to one. Are your films also based on issues you know nothing about? Do some research, first on ULTRA and while you are at it baseball, basketball and football fan rioting

Mr I Call It Like I See It!

If you wanna get rid of an event, how about Urban Beach Weekend?! It brings more than quadruple the arrests and not even close to the economic impact! But oh that's right, if you call out that MESS you'd be labeled RACIST!

And as to our honorable Regalado and Sarnoff, these old bitties need to CUT LOOSE, FOOTLOOSE!

C. P.

Maria Frederick, If you don't like ULTRA because is done in front of your building, then moved out, very simple. Before they get rid of events like ULTRA, they need to start with Urban Beach weekend. ULTRA is an incredible event with a huge economical impact to the city. ULTRA needs to stay and it will stay, and it will continue to grow, so get ready people, and if you don't like it get out. Find another downtown and live happy ever after.

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