Boiler Room and HUGO spotlight Miami’s thriving music scene

On the weekend of the Miami Grand Prix, local and Latin artists congregated in a motorsport-themed venue.

You might be surprised to learn of a cutting-edge music event planned around a Formula 1 race. But with a little context, it starts to make sense.

The stereotypical F1 fan may be a well-off bloke of a certain age, but the motorsport’s audience is diversifying. This is in part thanks to the hit Netflix show Formula 1: Drive to Survive and Lewis Hamilton’s influence as a certified style icon. A bit like a more sporty version of Coachella or Art Basel, the F1 weekend now spawns a whole load of afterparties, fringe events and brand activations that attract celebrities, models, influencers and musicians. I was sent out to cover the HUGO GARAGE event by HUGO and Boiler Room, which took place in a bespoke venue in Wynwood, Miami’s graffiti-smothered art district.

HUGO – which is the somewhat younger and more casual younger brother to BOSS – had partnered with the Visa Cash App Red Bull (VCARB) F1 team as the official Apparel and Eyewear Partner. For the HUGO event, Boiler Room’s curatorial expertise was necessary, because the Miami music scene is on fire right now, both on an underground and mainstream level.

It’s estimated that 70% of the population in Miami speaks Spanish and it’s closer to the Caribbean and South America than New York and LA, and so the city is a hub for the Latin music industry and a second home for a number of reggaeton stars. It’s also become a hotbed of experimental DJs and producers fusing Latin genres like reggaeton and perreo with ambient, techno, Miami bass and electro. Backstage at the HUGO GARAGE party, the Venezuela-born, Miami-based artist V1fro was buzzing about the potential of hybrid genres being created in the city.

The future of Latin music [is] a new groove,” V1fro told me. Miami is very important right now. The Latin American sound is spreading all over the world. All the sounds merge here in the club and in the scene, so the clubbing is creating a new sound.”

The HUGO GARAGE space was an all-red, roofless area, designed like a F1 garage, and featuring a VCARB replica car for photo opps. Following a warm up set from well-respected experimentalist DJ SEL.6, fellow Miami local El Gusano took over the decks. At this point the sky got a little darker, the beats got a little scuzzier and the vibe loosened up when a brief rain shower forced any too-cool-to-dance attendees to take shelter underneath the stage and huddle-up close to the decks – although one person who raved in the pouring rain got a special shout out from the suave host, who was dressed in a pink HUGO suit.

The HUGO GARAGE event also featured live performances from the cult Cuban-American rapper La Goony Chonga, who’s established her own Chonga” aesthetic (think: airbrushed t‑shirts, long nails and big hoop earrings) and Puetro Rican reggaeton legend Ivy Queen. Ivy Queen has some massive hits (her 2003 song Quiero Bailar, for example, has 289 million Spotify plays) and so to witness her perform them in such an intimate setting, I realised, was a privilege.

V1fro played the final set, kicking off with high-energy techno before taking exhilarating left turns with future-facing Latin club tracks. There were multiple wheel-ups and a bunch of V1fro’s local friends raving behind him – the hallmarks of a victorious Boiler Room set. The Grand Prix is all about the spectacle of the race, but on this particular weekend, it also drew some well-deserved attention to the music of the Magic City.

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