Urban Beach Weekend over the Memorial Day holiday has long been a big celebrity draw for the South Florida beach and nightclub scene, and this year’s weekend events will be no different.
Sean “Diddy” Combs will host what has become a core event of the weekend, the Best of the Best show on Sunday, May 30 at Bicentennial Park in Miami.
Clifford Joseph Harris Jr., also known as T.I., will make his first performance in South Florida since his release from a half-way house in March following his arrest on federal weapons possession charges.
From Miami Beach to Broward, night clubs all over South Florida will welcome urbanites with lineups that encourage club hopping. With events ranging from free to a high $2,250 for eight friends to arrive and party VIP over the five-day weekend at Klutch Miami on South Beach, Urban Beach Weekend will be in full-force starting Thursday, May 27 at certain venues.
And while out-of-towners – mostly black, young and hip – flock to enjoy Miami’s entertainment venues and the beaches, many locals are known to leave town, complaining that between the noise, litter and traffic, they lose the island to visitors.
This year, complaints about noise and excessive litter over Spring Break have prompted Miami Beach officials to start enforcing a law that was already on the books: No alcohol on the beach.
“As far as open alcoholic containers, we ask for compliance (throw it away),” said Miami Beach spokeswoman Nannette Rodriguez, in a statement. “However, it is an arrestable offense.”
Miami Beach is prepared for the estimated 200,000 to 300,000 people who will visit the city for Urban Beach Weekend. The city has implemented a major events plan that puts ample police, fire rescue and sanitation into the city.
Nanette said the city did not expect the estimated 300,000 people who came to Miami Beach when the first Urban Weekend was staged nine years ago. Now, although Urban Beach Weekend is not an official Miami Beach event, the city does spend about $1 million a year to coordinate and staff it.
To promote safety, parking along Collins Avenue between Eighth Street and Espanola Way will be restricted through Monday, May 31. Shuttles are available to move people around the beach, and volunteers dubbed Goodwill Ambassadors, wearing distinct T-shirts, will be available to assist visitors.
The relationship between Miami Beach and its urban visitors has been rocky. In 2006, more than 1,000 people were arrested during Urban Beach Weekend, about 10 percent of the total number of arrests for that year.
But Miami club owner Gerry Kelly said Urban Beach Weekend is good for everyone, especially financially.
“The clubs do well. The restaurants do amazing and the fast food restaurants do exceptionally well,” said Kelly, who owns MI-VI, a swank club located at the Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino in Hallandale Beach. “It is a great boost to the four major weekends of the year — Labor Day, Independence Day, New year’s Eve, and Spring Break and Winter Music Conference. It [Urban Beach Weekend] has found its place.”
Kelly, who has opened Level – now Mansion – Karu & Y, Shadow Lounge and others, is betting on the weekend. He is launching Christopher Brian Bridges’ new cognac, “Conjure,” on Thursday, May 27 at MI-VI. Better known as Ludacris, Bridges is expected to appear at the launch. And on Friday, May 28, Michael Vick and friends will host another party in the spirit of Urban Beach Weekend.
Kelly, who has been in the Miami Beach club scene for almost 20 years, recalled how Urban Beach Weekend evolved. He said Memorial Day weekend used to be a white, house-music driven scene when DJs from New York would come to Miami Beach to spin.
The hip hop scene was bolstered when former Miami Dolphin Louis Oliver brought Urban Fashion Week to Miami Beach in 2001. Celebrities such as Mike Tyson, R Kelly, Diddy and Queen Latifah supported the event.
“It was a real celebrity driven weekend and they came with hundreds in their posse,” Kelly said. “The tradition has continued; the scene has actually expanded.”
Urban Fashion Week runs concurrent with Urban Beach Weekend, with events at Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel and MI-VI.
Parties at Mansion, Opium and Deauville Resort in Miami Beach and MIA Biscayne on the mainland spun off from the Best of the Best music festival. The Best of the Best event evolved from a mostly Caribbean bacchanal to a day infused with some of the hottest urban artists.
Rhona Fox, spokeswoman for the Best of the Best concert, said the joining of two musical genres is a natural progression for the concert.
“In the past, we have had some unannounced hip hop guest artists show up and perform at Best of the Best,” Fox said. “With this lineup, there is something for everyone who is in town.”
Hip hop artists, including Diddy, joined the program later after some Jamaican artists had problems obtaining visas to come to the United States.
Performing live during the day-long event will be hip hop artists Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj, Gucci Mane, DJ Khaled and reggae and soca artists Serani, Gyptian, Machel Montano, Baby Cham, Barrington Levy, Capleton, T.O.K., Pinchers, Lady Saw, Anthony B, Mr. Vegas, Cocoa Tea, Tony Matterhorn, Ding Dong, G. Whizz and Chino.
Fox said that even with this lineup, she is concerned that the Caribbean community may think the event is canceled, since some of the traditional reggaes artists are not able to attend.
“The show is going on, and we have added some incredible acts, so come on down,” Fox said.
IF YOU GO
Here is some information provided by the city of Miami Beach to help you during your 2010 Memorial Day weekend.
Traffic & Parking Restrictions
Washington and Collins avenues will continue with two-way traffic. Beginning Friday, May 28 at 7 p.m. through Monday, May 31 at 7 a.m., some access to the east/west streets (100 and 200 blocks) between Washington Avenue and Ocean Drive, Sixth to 15th streets, will be restricted. Local residents with the proper zoned decals will be allowed to park. Alleys must be maintained clear of vehicles at all times and will be strictly enforced.
No street parking will be allowed on Collins Avenue between 8th Street and Espanola Way. The city will use the parking lanes along the east and west sides of Collins Avenue from 8th Street – Espanola Way as an extended pedestrian path. As a result, parking in this area of Collins Avenue will be restricted starting Wednesday, May 26, – Monday, May 31. Valet operations will also be moved.
For the first time this year, the city will expand the western sidewalk to the centerline of Ocean Drive from 7th to 12th streets.
Vehicle traffic will be restricted southbound for this area of Ocean Drive. Valet ramps will be relocated to the 100 blocks of 9th, 11th and 12th streets, and passenger loading zones will be created on the east side of Ocean Drive to accommodate hotel guests.
Free Bus Transportation: The South Beach Local
The South Beach Local (bus service) will operate free beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, May 28 through Monday, May 31. The buses will operate from 8 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday and 10 a.m. to 1a.m. Sunday and Monday. Numerous stops along South Beach and services run every 10 to 15 minutes.
All city-owned parking lots and garages will have normal operations, with the exception of the Convention Center Parking Lot, which will offer a $15 flat rate (includes free shuttle on The South Beach Local).
Miami Beach Answer Center: 305.604.CITY (2489): Friday, May 28, 6 p.m. – 1 a.m. Saturday, May 29 and Sunday, May 30, 9 a.m. – 1 a.m. ; Tourism Hotline: 305.673.7400 – 24 hours/seven days a week
For more information, go to www.miamibeachfl.gov.
Goodwill Ambassador Volunteers/God Squad
Goodwill Ambassadors, who are civilian volunteers serving as a buffer or liaison between the city and visitors, will be wearing T-shirts identifying themselves as Goodwill Ambassadors. They will provide informational brochures to ensure safety to all who live, work, and play in Miami Beach.
Source: City of Miami Beach, www.miamibeachfl.gov
Photo: Sean Combs