Ultra Music Festival: Lady Casa and her PLUR approach
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
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.
Lady Casa arrives at Ultra Music Festival 2013. SouthFlorida.com/ultra.