The new boutique festival We Belong Here is one that seeks to forge a cosmopolitan path among the myriad festivals of the world. Its aim is to design a true party that brings together the community of Miami in a festival capacity and to produce moments of bliss as well as new friends, timeless music, and sweet memories that attendees can carry with them throughout the rest of the year.
The title of the festival came about when team members Justin Dauman and Charles Hochfelder encountered the words displayed on an art piece in Miami in 2019. “It couldn’t just be the name for any party or brand – it really had to be special and something that was for everyone.” When all gatherings were shut down during the pandemic, those words couldn’t have felt more meaningful. They relay how “the timing felt perfect to conceptualize something extraordinarily different for that magical time we dreamed of in the future where everyone could gather without restrictions. What also played into this was that other businesses were almost completely shut down, and we had nothing but time on our hands.”
When coordinating all the logistics behind an event, it’s the little details that make all the difference: limiting capacity; calculating the space of a dance floor; allowing everyone to go behind the DJ booth for distinctive vantage points; enabling longer set times so artists can truly express themselves and take listeners on a journey; having a strong and diverse food/beverage experience; and providing amenities like a seating lounge and nice bathrooms. With that comes their philosophy of treating every attendee like a VIP and programming music that brings together different scenes while maintaining an aesthetic, sophisticated vibe. “We adamantly feel that dance music isn’t meant to be watched, but rather experienced for the benefit of every single person to receive something that can make their entire year more remarkable. Whether you miss the nostalgic glory days of the so-called ‘EDM bubble,’ prefer underground house and techno raves, or don’t care for dance music whatsoever but enjoy the beach and a good time, you will feel like you belong.” There is also the one-of-a-kind circular stage known as the first ever 360 experience that places you right in the heart of the musical action where you’ll be surrounded by sound and up close and personal with like-minded music lovers. “Setting the DJ in the center of the dance floor has less to do with them being the focal point of the party, but rather forms a warm environment where people are looking and smiling at each other, turning to their neighbors, and making new friends. There is always a time and place to be watching something, but this show is the culmination of all our sensory experiences and not just the performers.”
What makes the Miami music scene feel so distinguished compared to other cities is that music and dancing are a fundamental part of the way of life here, as the cultural sounds are interconnected to places like Latin America, NYC, and Europe that make it feel unlike any other city in the world. “Some days, Miami feels like it is the capital of the dance music universe, and other days it feels like it’s a hidden gem. This contrast creates an environment where trends are solidified, yet new ideas are equally explored. The palm trees, ocean views, and climate also help to create a dreamy vibe where great music feels and sounds even better than if it was heard elsewhere.” The enchanting scenery and history of Virginia Key Beach played an important role in the location as it’s essential to the We Belong Here brand to only do events in significant areas. “From the very first time we met with the amazing people that run the park, we always felt supported and welcomed. It felt like a good starting point since that’s the feeling we wanted to give the rest of the community here.”
Their unofficial motto “by the people for the people” reflects the extensive impact of a single person on everyone as a whole. “This festival doesn’t happen without a single person there, from the attendees to the staff to the artists and more. This isn’t our festival – it’s Miami’s and we simply lead by organizing it.” The enthusiastic team hopes to continue providing a platform in the future for introducing their favorite artists to the Miami scene while also shaping an environment where established favorites can play beautiful sets. Their capacity is meant to be limited and not expected to grow into the next Ultra or III Points. “Miami already has those incredible events, and we are here to establish ourselves as something smaller, yet special and different. We are also excited to give our community more unique settings across the globe to gather and dance together in.” Their desire isn’t just to build a two-day escape from reality, but to make it feel less like you are attending a new festival and more like you are walking into the backyard of a friend who is throwing the greatest party of all time. Some prominent DJs we can expect this year include Kaskade, Lane 8, James Hype, Yotto, and more. Be sure to support the crew and check out the festival this February 25th and 26th in Miami.