‘It was an absolute Fyre Festival.’ Before Miami contestants were enlisted to save the world, another group signed up in Montreal. But where were the cameras?
In the spring of 2019, as thousands descended upon Miami for the world’s most luxurious festival, local officials shut down its website, banned its admission to the public, and shut down the city’s 911 phone service.
“From the time they heard we were coming, they were already planning how they could have a bad time. They already had the plan to have a very bad time, and I’ve since learned why,” says the organizer of the 2018 Fyre Festival, which ran from April 10 to April 10.
“They realized the media would cover them. They realized the cops wouldn’t help them. They realized even though you’d want to be one of the most popular people in the city, they had to work to make sure the festival didn’t die.”
On that fateful April night in 2016, an estimated 150,000 people flocked to Ciro’s Beach and the nearby oceanfront for a week of luxury and debauchery. But after the sun went down, a group of 25 young women and men decided to abandon their plans of partying on Ciro’s Beach and travel to South Beach for a much more ambitious event, one that would turn the city upside down.
Known as the Fyre Festival, the new concept revolved around the premise that “you should be able to go to any festival anywhere in the world, live in a tent in the middle of a field, and be treated like royalty.”
Fyre Festival had its roots in the viral success of the now-infamous 2014 Burning Man festival, which was founded by a self-identified “hippie-capitalist individualist” named Chrismodeus. Burners who spent $1,500 and $25,000 to be crowned the “Burn Man of the Year” had a party every year for a week at sea, or “tent city,” where they were guaranteed the best food and entertainment. The festival’s tagline, “Welcome to the new frontier,” was a clear reference to the frontier that was always just beyond the town square.