Miami 2015

Ultra Music Festival
Past And Present

Step into our time machine and come have a look at a trailer for Ultra Music Festival from 2003.

Step into our Internet-powered time machine and come have a look at Ultra Music Festival in 2003

Ultra Music Festival may be over for another year, but in 2015 the EDM carnival has reached such stratospheric heights that we'll be talking about it for months to come. After spending three days in the eye of the storm, making friends with the Humans of Ultra, we can testify that the Miami monster is just about the biggest show on earth these days. 

But it wasn't always like this, there was a time when dance music rarely emerged out of the basement clubs and computer game soundtracks it called home, a time before rave kandi, a time before PLUR and a time before Hardwell. That time was 2003. I was 14 during 2003 and I spent my days playing Vice City on the Playstation 2 and listening to Green Day in my bedroom in Belfast - so needless to say Ultra was not on my radar. 

Ultra then (2003)

Although it'd be another seven years before the wider world truly sat up and took notice of the festival, in 2003 it was starting to gain momentum. So much momentum that they pioneered the pre-festival trailer an impressive two years pre-YouTube. And now, due to the Internet's insatiable urge to dredge and repurpose our cultural back-catalogue, that trailer has reemerged blinking and staggering into the cultural spotlight.

And what a trailer it is! Like a window through time, this video shows American dance culture pre-commercialisation, when it was still a bona fide counter-cultural force. Throughout a predominantly trance soundtrack we see fresh-faced versions of Tiesto, Pete Tong, Paul Oakenfold and others as they navigate 4 vinyl-deck mixing on understated staged to intimate crowds.

Ultra now (2014)

Despite the fact that the video quality and fashion choices make it look like a rave episode of Murder She Wrote, there is something inherently beautiful about this movie. It's the innocence of it all that really gripped me. This is Ultra without the pomp, pretentiousness and profits that it's known for today. An unrecognisable Ultra and reminder that dance music used to be by weirdos for weirdos.

More Miami:

The Humans of Ultra 2015

26 Things We Learnt From Miami 2015

Armand Van Helden's Guide To Miami

Written by Matthew Francey

07 Apr 2015