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Every March, Ultra Music Festival turns downtown Miami into a monolithic nightclub, complete with mind-blowing light displays and a never-ending supply of booze.
There are live acts, old-school acts, emerging acts and top-tier ones. It’s a raver’s paradise. Still, there’s something missing: women. Of the 250 electronic dance music artists descending on the three-day fest (Friday through Sunday), “five percent are female,” says Adam Russakoff, Ultra’s executive producer. “I wish there were more choices, but I wouldn’t book a woman simply because she’s a woman. I wouldn’t insult a woman by doing that. We book based only on music, not gender.”
The dearth of female acts isn’t unique to Ultra. It’s a puzzling problem throughout the genre. Glance at any EDM festival lineup, from Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas to Electric Forest in Rothbury, Mich., and you’ll see very few women, with Krewella, Nervo and Rebecca & Fiona appearing on nearly every bill.
"Once, I was going through security at an airport with my laptop, which has the Krewella sticker on it, and one of the TSA guys said, ‘That guy’s dope, I listen to him, too,’ " says Yasmine Yousaf, one-third of Krewella, a band of two sisters and a guy.
We sent Marlow Stern to Florida for Miami Music Week and the Ultra Music Festival, and he had a pretty good time.