Ricardo Barrera, better known as RM Ricky Miami, began throwing parties when he was 22 and is now one of the best-known DJs in the Provo area. From nerd parties to paint fight parties, Barrera has been successful in capturing the attention of teens and young adults with his themes, music and personality.
It all began when a girl broke up with him in 2011. The breakup led Barrera to go out and attend multiple parties in Provo with his friends. However, he soon began to realize that just attending parties was not enough.
“I’ve always been a music guy,” Barrera said. “As I went along I started digging the production side of things. … I started looking at more than the party.”
Barrera downloaded a software called “Virtual DJ” and started mixing on his laptop.
“I started to practice and practice and practice,” Barrera said.
After hours of practicing and honing his skills, Barrera DJed a clubhouse party and had about 50 people show up. He then DJed his own birthday party and threw more clubhouse parties around Provo and Orem.
“Eventually the months passed,” Barrera said. “March came about and I was like, ‘I’m really starting to like this.'”
Barrera started DJing at Seven Peaks, which throws a party every two weeks. He continued DJing parties in the area and soon helped to restart a hip-hop club called the ‘A’ List Project in downtown Provo. He also quit his job at IHOP to focus on DJing.
“At that time I wanted to DJ everything,” Barrera said. “I wanted to be able to help the LDS kids in the area have a good time without having to drink.”
Barrera and his team continued to help rebuild the ‘A’ List Project from June to August 2011. It was also at this time that Barrera’s friend came up with the name RM Ricky Miami — RM, which stands for “returned missionary,” Ricky, which is short for Ricardo, and Miami, which is where he is from.
The ‘A’ List Project held a back-to-school neon party, a Halloween party at Alpine Village, a New Year’s party, a show in Rexburg, Idaho, and many other parties, some of which were attended by more than 1,000 people.
However, in February of 2012, the ‘A’ List Project started having money issues and soon fell to the ground. Barrera decided to start throwing his own parties in Provo with the help of friends and others he worked with.
“Working with Ricky has been a blessing,” said Zak Swendsen, Barrera’s security guard. “He makes sure that everybody’s happy. … The relationship that he’s built with me and quite a few others has just really helped a lot.”
In the fall of 2012, Barrera threw a party called “I Love Pink” as a way to promote the better side of Victoria’s Secret. His group gave away items such as hoodies and T-shirts, and more than 1,500 people showed up.
“I was like, ‘I need to go bigger; I need to go badder; I want to be this big thing,'” Barrera said. “Fall 2012 was really good for me. All of the parties were big. I was able to be a part of a lot of really good things.”
Barrera, who is now 24, has continued throwing parties, as well as DJing weddings and events for BYU. His biggest show had 3,500 people show up.
“I’m a very personal DJ when I’m actually on stage,” Barrera said. “I’m very attentive to what the kids like to hear. … After each party I high-five everybody. I ask them how the party went.”
According to Anthony De Lucia, one of Barrera’s closest friends, whom he met at a party in Rexburg last winter, Barrera is constantly focused on his work.
“He breathes it,” De Lucia said. “If he’s not hanging out with us, he’s not spending a whole lot of downtime just not doing anything. He’s very dedicated. … I know a lot of DJs who just kind of do it as a hobby, but for Ricky this isn’t a hobby. This is his life.”
Barrera also keeps his music clean in order to cater to the Mormon crowd.
“I understand where the kids are coming from, so I know what kind of themes to throw,” Barrera said. “I know what kind of songs they’re into. If you can sing to it in the shower, you can play it at a party.”
The next big event Barrera is throwing is a party called “This Is Toga,” based on the movie “300,” which will be held on Sept. 6 in Salt Lake City. He is expecting at least 1,500 people to attend and is currently trying to get a charity involved.
“I like to party for causes,” Barrera said. “I want to get the kids more involved into a good thing.”