[Originally published 11/15/20]: While music festivals remain a distant memory in most parts of the world, a full-scale Ultra Music Festival event went on in Taiwan on Saturday, November 14th. The event, which took place at Dajie Riverside Park in Taipei, was billed as a part of Road to Ultra, the long-running series of one-day festival events in cities around the world created and founded by the team behind the famous Miami electronic dance music festival.
The Ultra event in Taiwan was headlined by Swedish progressive house maestro Alesso and featured performances by LA-based duo Slander, Israeli production pair Vini Vici, and America DJ Kayzo as well as regional supporting acts Junior, RayRay, and Pei Pei. It welcomed crowds of thousands to enjoy a full music festival experience complete with lavish stage production, pyrotechnics, and fireworks in addition to live painting demonstrations, global street food, and a graphic art wall created by Taiwanese designers. The event was streamed live online to a global audience.
The successful festival serves as a big win for the Ultra organizers, whose Covid-imposed cancellation of Ultra’s flagship Miami event in early March was among the first in a cascade of cancellations that saw much of the global live music industry to screech to a halt over the ensuing weeks.
As the United States struggles with its nastiest spike to date and the prospect of a full-blown music festival remains entirely out of the question, Taiwan has had immense success in curbing the spread of the coronavirus. As of the end of October, the East Asian country had gone 200 days without a locally transmitted COVID-19 case.
A number of factors have played a role in Taiwan’s ability to prevent the virus from spreading (the island, population 23 million, has recorded 550 total cases and only seven deaths). A feature in Time attributed Taiwan’s success to closing borders early and strictly regulating travel; efficiently producing, stockpiling, and distributing protective masks; rigorous contact tracing and quarantine protocols; and the lasting cultural memory of the SARS outbreak which in 2003 killed ten times more people in the country than COVID-19 has this year.
THANK YOU, Taiwan!
— Ultra Taiwan (@UltraTaiwan) November 14, 2020
[UPDATE 11/18/20]: While a handful of foreign DJs were permitted to travel to Taipei and perform and the Taiwan Ultra event, the country’s health and safety officials made sure they were held to the same stringent quarantine protocols as the country’s residents.
Per Taiwan News, four of the foreign DJs who played at Ultra were hit with fines for violating the country’s “one room per person” quarantine rule when they gathered without masks in an indoor common area to rehearse before the show. Said Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) spokesman Chuang Jen-hsiang, authorities became aware of the violation from a video posted to social media. Each of the DJs was fined the equivalent of $351 for the infraction. This highlights the country’s serious attitude toward outbreak prevention that has allowed them to be among the few places in the world able to host a music festival in the fall of 2020.