Think of the Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) as a modern day commercialized Woodstock – drugs, alcohol, sex, loud, loud music, fireworks, pyrotechnics and carnival rides. It is the largest electronic, new age, trance rave music festival in the world and an expensive excuse to get wild and wasted. The EDC website describes it as an “oversized adult playground.” It features artists such as David Guetta, Steve Angelo, Tiesto, Afrojack and Swedish House Mafia who are all recognized for their work in electronic dance music. There are as many as seven stages where performers simultaneously blast out their music.
Many people go the event wearing costumes. It is held at different locations throughout the world in (London, Las Vegas, Puerto Rico, Orlando, New York, Chicago).l Electric Daisy Carnival was created by Pasquale Rotella who formed the company Insomniac Events , Inc. to organize this yearly event. The first EDC was in Los Angeles in 1997 and it lasted for one day. Its popularity grew each year so in 2009 it was extended from a one day festival to two days. In 2011 it was held in Los Angeles again as a three day event and became the largest event of its kind with more than 300,000 people in attendance.
EDC is a destination event – people travel from miles away to attend. Going to EDC is not a cheap weekend getaway. Presale tickets for the 2013 event in Las Vegas went on sale as early as six months in advance at a cost of $199 for one-three day general admission ticket and $450 for one VIP three day ticket. Prices increased as EDC got closer, going as high as $1000 and more. Unless you lived in the Las Vegas area, you had additional costs for a hotel, food and a ride to the EDC at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. If you weren’t one of the lucky ones who got a three-day shuttle pass for $80 before they sold out, you paid $45 or more a day for a car rental or $65 one way for a taxi.
If you wanted a t-shirt to commemorate the event, it added around $30 to the total. In spite of the huge price tag, EDC has sold out every year. I’ve never been to an EDC event so I spoke with a friend who worked at the 2012 Los Angeles EDC to get a clear idea of what it would be like to go to the event. I learned enough to know I will I never go to one myself. After listening to his description, I decided it is utter madness. I don’t do drugs and from what he observed there were a lot being used at the events. As a result he observed a lot of people with wild, out of control behavior, some causing disturbances.
With so many people in one place, some people are bound to take advantage of the situation to break rules and laws. I don’t want to be in a situation where so many unpredictable people could get out of control and unknowingly involve me. I also don’t really care for the genre of music played there, so I wouldn’t want to be surrounded by it for 31 1/2 hours. I also to get a little claustrophobic at times, so I don’t think I would like the idea of being surrounded by a few hundred thousand people at any given moment. So if you take all that into consideration, EDC doesn’t sound like a place for me. In fact, I think I would hate being there.
Before this assignment I had never heard of the Electric Daisy Carnival or seen any ads for it. When I asked my friends, only one, who worked at the 2012 event, knew what I was talking about. It doesn’t seem to advertise on mainstream television or radio like other concerts or sporting events but they may advertise on channels or radio stations that cater to their specific market – the 16 to 25 year-old fan. To know about EDC, you must need to be in that scene. EDC’s primary method of marketing is through social media. EDC is on Twitter, has videos posted on YouTube and has a Facebook page.
The fans themselves help to market EDC simply by posting on Facebook and Tweeting with friends. What fan would attend EDC and not post pictures of every sight, sound and experience on their FB page? EDC as well as Insomniac have websites with details that includes information about the event as well as a picture gallery, a list of who has or will perform at events and videos of past performances to give you a taste of what the carnival is like. Fans also have the opportunity to sign up on their email list to receive regular news about events and artists. Insomniac has also organized EDC Week before the actual event. During this week one of the highlights is the EDMbiz Music Conference.
It features panel discussions with well-known figures in the electronic music industry talking about the music as well as the business opportunities. There are also daily performances of as many as 15 big name performers in the industry at different venues throughout the city. These events also create news that is published in such well publications as Rolling Stone and Variety, helping to market the main event – EDC. Even though EDC may be a very popular event, there are concerns and controversies surrounding it.
In Chicago there were complaints because the music and mfireworks could be heard as many as fifteen miles away and with so many people going to the same event, of course there were problems with traffic control and parking. However, the greatest concerns seem to focus on safety and security (or lack of security). A friend who was at the 2010 event reported the widespread use of drugs and that many entered the event with fake identification (minimum age is 18). He observed long lines at the entrance with security only doing quick, cursory checks of bags, pockets and identification.
He was also present when security agents were overrun by drunken participants who weren’t being served their drinks quickly enough. According to my acquaintance, many vendors had problems getting enough people to work so they hired unknown personnel simply to match the body count needed for their booth. He also thought the same random hiring style may have been used to hire security personnel. Because security needs to be able to deal with unruly people, he thought he many middle-aged women working security were an inappropriate selection of personnel for this type of event. Most concerning of all was the death of a 15 year-old girl who died from an Ecstacy overdose.
It’s a given that if someone really wants to use drugs at the event, they’ll find a way to bring them in. But, perhaps if security had been better, this might not have happened. There were also 60 drug-related arrests and more than 200 medical emergencies. Las Vegas newspaper articles about EDC 2013 suggest that at the event there in June, safety concerns were being taken care of more efficiently and appropriately. From its website it appears that the company is aware of its responsibility for the safety of the attendees.
It clearly states on several pages that there is a Zero Tolerance drug policy at the event and it gives multiple warnings of consequences. In a September 19, 2013 interview by Steve Baltin of Rolling Stone, Pasqualle Rotella, CEO of Insomniac said, “It’s the promoters responsibility to do everything possible to protect the attendees and after you’ve…done everything you can do, it really comes down to people handling their own business, people being responsible for themselves.”
The EDC website repeats that same message. Perhaps Insomniac and the EDC have learned from past events and provided better security. After the event, Las Vegas police reported to Las Vegas FOX5 that there were an estimated 250,000 people attending the event over the three day period. LVPD posted 400 officers inside the event each night with additional security being provided by the promoter.
There were 300+ medical emergencies most of which were minor illnesses due to exhaustion and dehydration, 60 people were arrested on felony drug charges and no there were no deaths. So this year Pasqualle Rottella and Insomniac are happy. The EDC has come and gone without any major incidents. The crowd in Las Vegas was larger than ever before but the number of drug related arrests remained the same this year as last year – and there were no deaths.
Large, growing following
Dramatic cash flow into local communities (hotels, restaurants, transportation, taxes)
Continue to add large city venues
Lessen the possible “threats”
Tremendous liability due to drug and alcohol abuse
Overcrowding and dangers associated with the games and carnival rides