A report by Liz Tracy’s for Miami’s New Times.
SOL Fete Miami will make going outside in the brutal Miami heat a pleasure instead of a chore. Also known as the Summer of Love Festival, it will include a wide range of fun activities that empower and enrich while celebrating the arts, music, and culture of the African diaspora. The free event is created and produced by the Miami Urban Contemporary Experience (MUCE 305) as part of its MUCE Summer Series, in partnership with the Downtown Development Authority. It will include hands-on activities and games for children, R&B and Caribbean dance parties, Ethnicity Models-hosted Self-Esteem Bootcamp for kids, back-to-school giveaways, and Dub Yoga classes.
MUCE 305 cofounder Ashlee Thomas is a 30-something Miami native who has been dedicated to enriching the cultural scene in downtown Miami since 2014, when she and Barthelemy Mervil started this venture. She says of this newest event: “It’s a day for locals to come out and have fun while also supporting local businesses that will be at the event selling and sharing their goods and services,” emphasizing the activities for kids.
One of the local service providers who will offer a special experience at SOL Fete is Dub Yoga, which specializes in a unique combination of the Eastern practice and Caribbean music. Monica Gonzalez, AKA Toshani, is a 43-year-old, Spanish-born Colombian who grew up in Virginia. She fell in love with yoga a decade ago and began teaching in Miami in 2012 when she created her unique brand of yoga.
“I had always wanted to add the dub reggae sounds to the practice because of the messages and frequencies the music has,” she explains. “I took me a while to try it. I was still stuck in my mental boundaries with the type of music that needed to be played in a class. It wasn’t until I started teaching yoga at Cocoroo’s, a Caribbean juice bar, that I decided to incorporate dub music into the practice.” She selects slower, more instrumental dub sounds and fills classes, which are rooted in a Sivananda tradition, with love. “We merge art, music, and healing, in a less traditional way.” At SOL, she’ll facilitate a baby-and-me class and family yoga with Go Green Fashionista. Bring a mat to participate.
Another event partner is coproducer DJ Self Born from Love Hate Classic Sundays. The 42-year-old Chicago native has been DJ’ing for 27 years and producing music for more than two decades. He co-created Classic Sundays with partner Mark Gordon because he saw the lack of a weekly party on South Beach that, he says, “catered to people that wanted something different than the typical mainstream club… We wanted to start a weekly vibe and culture that catered to the fan of multiple old-school genres, like soul, hip-hop, R&B, and classic reggae music.”
The party was launched as a weekly but turned into a larger venture. Self Born bought the bar Love/Hate. He has since sold the venue and turned the party into a monthly pop-up in Wynwood. For SOL Fete, he says, “We will bring the warm and classic vibes to Bayfront Park and the city of Miami… People should be ready to shake a few body parts and have a great time. We create a comfort zone to dance for everyone, from the basic head-nodder to the all-out I’m-gonna-shake-my-buns-all-day attendee! It’s about hitting all intensity levels musically.”
The party will also include a reggae dance-off to Caribbean music spun by DJ Mack. It will be a celebration of community and, as Thomas said, local businesses such as Next Level Barbershop, Mount Teman Beverage, KND Total Body, and LiveLifeLoveLife. Craft vendors and food trucks will be onsite as well. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets to soak it all in and honor the entrepreneurs of Miami.
SOL Fete. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, August 4, at Bayfront Park, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; muce305.org. Admission is free.