Miami's Ultra dance music festival bans minors

Reuters

By Zachary Fagenson

MIAMI (Reuters) - The mayor of Miami has welcomed the decision by one of the world’s largest electronic dance music festivals to ban minors from attending the three-day downtown bacchanal, but urged the organizers to find another location.

Local politicians tried to force the Ultra Music Festival out of downtown Miami earlier this year after it came under scrutiny when a security guard was injured in a crush caused by gatecrashers.

A 21-year-old man who attended the festival was also found dead in his car after telling his friends he was feeling sick and dizzy. A toxicology report has yet to be released, although the man’s family told local media he had been healthy and did not take drugs.

“They should find another venue eventually, but in this case I think that no minors alleviates the problems that we had,” Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado said on Wednesday, citing issues with alcohol and drugs at the event held each March.

In a statement on Tuesday announcing the ban on minors, Ray Martinez, former chief of the Miami Beach police who became the festival’s security director this year, said: "The first step to preserving the unique atmosphere that Ultra is famous for is to be proactive in attracting the right crowd."

The festival, which this year attracted at least 165,000 attendees over three days, is at odds with officials in downtown Miami, where the population has mushroomed in recent years.

Critics cite throngs of often scantily clad festival-goers packing downtown streets, as well as widespread drug use.

Local officials mounted a failed attempt earlier this year to force the festival out of the area, but were met with strong resistance from organizers and critics on social media.

Cities across the country have struggled to manage large-scale festivals as electronic music becomes increasingly popular. Electric Zoo, a festival held on Randall’s Island in New York City’s East River, trimmed the hours of its Labor Day festival after dozens were hospitalized and two died of drug overdoses and dehydration in 2013.

Los Angeles in 2010 forced Insomniac Events' Electric Daisy Carnival to move to Las Vegas after a 15-year-old girl overdosed on MDMA, a popular stimulant also known as "Molly."

In 2013, Electric Daisy attracted 345,000 people to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for an all-night dance party headlined by popular DJs such as Tiesto, Avicii and Armin Van Buuren.

(Editing by David Adams and Peter Cooney)

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