In the Florida Keys, things happen a bit differently than they do in the rest of the world and that includes music festivals. Surrounded by the sea, the 120-mile island chain has staged one of its signature musical events underwater since 1985. The 27th annual Underwater Music Festival is set for 9 July 2011 at Looe Key Reef, an area of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary located approximately six miles south of Big Pine Key.
Each year, the subsea songfest draws as many as 600 divers and snorkelers to explore the colourful diversity of marine life that characterises the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef. The marine musical event is staged by Keys radio station WWUS 104.1 FM, locally called US 1, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Music is broadcast underwater via Lubell Laboratory speakers suspended beneath boats positioned at the reef, and the playlist typically ranges from humpback whale songs to marine-themed ditties such as the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” and Jimmy Buffett’s “A Pirate Looks at 40.” The event is made even more surreal by the fancy dress worn by some of the participating divers — so mermaids, musicians and characters from films can sometimes be spotted 15 metres down, grooving to the beat.
While many festival “afishionados” are drawn by the undersea fun, the concert also promotes the serious cause of preserving the Florida Keys’ unique coral reef ecosystem.
Visitors can take part easily, since many dive and snorkel operators in the Lower Florida Keys offer jaunts out to the reef for the festival. To find one, go to http://www.fla-keys.com/listing.cfm?id=12.