DJ Irie and Friends Hit the Links
by jordi lippe
With his annual DJ IRIE Weekend set to rock Miami Beach, our town’s favorite spin master gives the lowdown on this year’s fun-in-the-sun events.
DJ Irie’s charity tournament at the Miami Beach Golf Club combines music and sports to help South Florida’s underprivileged youth.
The definition of Miami Beach, it can be argued, is sun, fun, and, of course, the ocean. So when world-renowned DJ and Miami resident DJ Irie learned that many of the city’s disadvantaged young people hadn’t even had the chance to dig their toes into the sand, he set out to make a change.
“I was visiting at this one school and was telling the kids how I lived in Miami Beach,” recalls Ian Grocher, aka DJ Irie, the Miami Heat’s official DJ for more than a decade. “One boy asked if I had ever actually been to the beach, and I said, ‘Of course.’ He then asked me what it was like, since he had never set foot on a beach, even though his school was 10 miles from one.”
That simple conversation helped spur the DJ (who was born in St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands and raised in Miami and Jamaica) to launch the Irie Foundation, which supports Miami’s at-risk youth through mentorship programs, cultural experiences, and scholarship opportunities. Programs are held throughout the year; however, it’s the annual DJ Irie Weekend, kicking off June 19, that draws first class athletes and Hollywood’s hottest. Started in 2004, this three-day festival of music, food, sports, and entertainment has quickly become one of the city’s most sought-after tickets. “We want people to come out and really have a lot of fun and raise awareness for the foundation,” says Irie of the celebrity-studded event. “It draws in people from all over the world.”
The weekend’s biggest attraction is the golf tournament held at the Miami Beach Golf Club, and with 144 slots already filled, DJ Irie and his organization are looking into expanding to multiple courses next year. “No other DJ has a golf tournament, so we’re changing the game and bringing a party to the golf course,” he says.
Festivities kick off June 19 with a VIP party followed by the popular golf tournament the next morning and a concert later that night. In previous years, artists such as LMFAO, Ne-Yo, Jamie Foxx, and Flo Rida have performed, while A-listers such as Dan Marino, Carmelo Anthony, Luke Wilson, Gabrielle Union, and players from the Heat are regularly in attendance. “DJ Irie’s been a part of the Heat for many years,” says team superstar Dwyane Wade. “To know the guy is to love the guy, which is a big part of why his Irie Weekend event is such a success. My teammates and I are happy to support his charity.”
On Saturday, June 20, the two groups—the stars and the kids supported by the foundation—have the opportunity to comingle. “We wanted to have an event that our kids could participate in with the celebrities,” says Irie. “We came up with this really cool bowling tournament at Lucky Strike here on the beach. It’s a huge hit!”
In addition to all the smiles the weekend brings, the financial support is crucial to the success of the foundation’s mission. “We are committed to helping kids get on the right track and strive for successful futures,” says Irie of his eponymous foundation. “When we do the weekend, the money we raise goes towards those programs and helps create well-rounded individuals. What’s better than that?” The 10th annual Irie Weekend takes place June 19–21; for a full schedule of events and locations, visit irieweekend.com.
photography by gary james
Cover shoot: Behind the scenes with Pitbull for the October 2014 issue of Ocean Drive magazine.