Ul­tra Mu­sic Fes­ti­val: Lady Casa and her PLUR ap­proach

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - Showtime - South Broward - - MUSIC - By Bar­bara Cor­bellini Duarte

In the sea of neon fish­net stock­ings, tu­tus and fluffy boots that is the Ul­tra Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, Michelle Casares stands out.

In fact, when the three­day Ul­tra phe­nom­e­non over­runs down­town Mi­ami this weekend, spot­ting her in the crowd will be­come like a game of “Where’s Waldo?”

She is Lady Casa, and she’s the one usu­ally wear­ing the com­bi­na­tion bikini with thigh-high stock­ings, neon eye­lashes, colored con­tacts and some type of flashy adorn­ment on her head, such as a feath­ered head­dress or a long, rain­bow-colored pony­tail wig.

Her call­ing: to spread the raver’s mantra of PLUR, or “Peace, Love, Unity and Re­spect,” through the ex­change of plas­tic beads known as kandi.

“Ravers are known for be­ing very ac­cept­ing of all dif­fer­ent types of people, of all races, classes, sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, just very wel­com­ing of ev­ery­one in the hu­man race,” says Lady Casa, 25, who works as a dancer at Man­sion Night­club in Mi­ami Beach. “When you ar­rive at Ul­tra, you kind of let down those walls that we all build to sep­a­rate our­selves, and you just be­come one with the rave fam­ily, one with each other, one with the mu­sic.”

Last year’s Ul­tra at­tracted more than 330,000 people from 95 coun­tries over two week­ends jam-packed with elec­tronic mu­si­cians, DJs and par­ties. The crowd of­ten re­ceives at­ten­tion for the pop­u­lar­ity of recre­ational drugs such as Molly, the street name for an ec­sta­sy­like stim­u­lant. But for the

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Check out our fes­ti­val sur­vival guide, lineup de­tails, pho­tos, videos and more at ravers known as Kandi Kids, there’s much more to PLUR cul­ture.

Ex­chang­ing kandi is part of it, and it comes with a rit­u­al­ized hand­shake: Kandi Kids put their hands to­gether in two peace signs, then make a heart shape rep­re­sent­ing love. They move their hands palm to palm, rep­re­sent­ing unity, and end with clasped hands for re­spect. With em­braced hands, they ex­change the bracelets.

“It’s a lot more than just the fash­ion be­hind it. It’s the heart, and the vi­bra­tion, and the soul be­hind it,” she says. “You can re­ally feel it, when you lock hands with that per­son, the vibe that you are giv­ing to each other.”

Con­cetta Lestingi, 26, of West Palm Beach, con­sid­ers kandi “a phys­i­cal dis­play of PLUR.”

“It’s su­per-re­ward­ing when you get to trade with some­body, and see­ing their re­ac­tion of how thank­ful they are to re­ceive some­thing that has no mon­e­tary value,” she says.

Danh Le, 22, of Mi­ra­mar, spends six hours work­ing on each bracelet, some with up to 1,600 beads.

“I love mak­ing [kandi] for people and trad­ing with people,” Le says. “Ev­ery­thing I make, I give away.”

In her fourth year vis­it­ing Ul­tra as Lady Casa, she plans to carry as much kandi as she can. Her friend, Ger­man Muñoz, 27, will carry the rest for her, to re­place them as she runs out.

“I was with her the first time that she was bom­barded,” says Muñoz, who has also part­nered with Lady Casa in sell­ing T-shirts and ap­parel with their PLUR War­riors logo. “We couldn’t walk more than five feet, and people wanted a piece of kandi, and people wanted a pic­ture. People wanted a hug.”

The lineup for Ul­tra, from March 28-30 at Mi­ami’s Bayfront Park (301 N. Bis­cayne Blvd.), in­cludes Tiesto, David Guetta, Avicii and Krewella, as well as Fort Laud­erdale’s own ris­ing DJ Di­plo. VIP tick­ets are sold out; some gen­eral tick­ets for $399.95 were still avail­able as of Wed­nes­day. Go to Ul­traMu­sicFes­ti­val.com.

BAR­BARA COR­BELLINI DUARTE/STAFF

Lady Casa ar­rives at Ul­tra Mu­sic Fes­ti­val 2013. SouthFlorida.com/ul­tra.

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