About nine years ago, FSU student Sebastian Solano attended a wild frat party where revelers were doused with brightly colored paint, and he suddenly had an idea. A really big idea.
“I walk in and see about 300 kids, and everyone is wearing all white,” he recalled, “and suddenly there was this huge cloud of paint flying over the crowd, and everybody’s throwing paint on each other, and there was house music playing. And I was like, “Oh my God, this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.” I remember it so vividly.
“And in that specific moment, it’s like a light bulb lit up over my head: This is a multi-million dollar idea.”
That was how the Life In Color Festival – nowadays billed as the “World’s Largest Paint Party” – was born.
Solano, who was raised in Miami, and a few friends already had a company that threw modest parties, and after he made sure no one owned the rights to the idea, they ran with it.
“I was already a fan of Sensation, which is a huge white party in Europe,” Solano said, “so I had already seen how big the concept could get. So I thought a paint party with great house music could be the “Sensation” of America.”
He wasn’t far off. Life In Color hits Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens on Friday night, and with Grammy-winning superstar DJ Calvin Harris headlining, it’s expected to draw more than 25,000 people.
Also on the bill are rapper 2 Chainz, plus electronic-music acts Steve Aoki, Major Lazer (featuring Diplo), Chuckie, R3hab and many more, including Life In Color resident DJ David Solano, who is Sebastian’s twin brother.
Of course, it took time for the event to find success.
“We did our first one seven years ago here in Miami, at this little downtown club called Allure, and drew about 700 people, so we did OK,” said Solano. “Then we did Orlando, then Tampa, with 1,500 people. And next thing you know, every party we did in Florida was oversold. There were like 2,000 people outside trying to get in.”
Today, it isn’t too much of a stretch to call Life In Color a “mini-Ultra,” a reference to the annual electronic-music festival during Miami Music Week in March that draws tens of thousands of fans per day and hundreds of DJs from all over the world.
“We see ourselves completely different from Ultra, because Ultra’s focus is purely on the DJs, and our focus includes the whole paint element: You’re coming here to become a part of the show,” said Solano. “But it’s the next biggest show in Miami now when it comes to electronic music, and we’re very proud of it.”
And Life In Color still seems like a dream come true to Solano, but it was a realistic dream all along, with a plan.
“People always ask me if I ever thought it could get as big as this,” he said. “We’re still amazed at how big it really got. But at the same time, we had this vision since we started. We always knew it was gonna be massive.”