Twenty years in, Las Vegas is still in love with EDC. If you’ve spent any amount of time at the exceptional Las Vegas festival, you know why. The lights, the music, the bumping in your chest that reminds you that you’re alive and surrounded by life: That’s what EDC brings to the headliners — the party-goers — who show. It’s something we’ve come to expect and cherish about being in Las Vegas. Twenty years ago, it was something slightly different.
“I did not expect for it to be as big as it is,” says Pasquale Rotella, dedicated Night Owl, insomniac and mind behind EDC. “It wasn’t my largest festival that I produced for my first decade.” At the time, many other festivals produced by Insomniac, the company that puts on EDC around the world and several other festivals in Vegas, were far larger than Electric Daisy Carnival — which was held in Los Angeles at the time. But the vision was always present to make EDC something grand, something that was, is and always will be dedicated to the fans.
For anyone old enough to remember when rave culture was underground and EDM was still spun on vinyl, the days when you had to know someone who knew someone with the hookup to the info to the password to get you in, you know how significant it is for any modern festival to call the ticket-holders the headliners. Insomniac cares about that attitude. They work hard to make it true. As Rotella puts it, “The attendee is just as important as the music and the guy behind the deck. And I would assume that every artist we book at our festivals would say the same.” That understanding of the mission behind the music is one of the many reasons EDC has become so lasting.
As the fans progress with the festival, newcomers are entranced and faithful followers continue to step up. “We definitely have new generations that jump on board and come into the culture, but then you have the people who’ve been around for a long time and stayed with us and kind of mentor the younger generations to help keep it alive.” That endurance is a part of the EDC and EDM cultures, bringing people together in a way that spans lifetimes.
For Rotella, the adventure has been both professional and personal. A long-time “experience creator,” he’s brought Las Vegas some of the most iconic moments in the EDM, festival and entertainment realms. But beyond the acclaim and the adventure is a deep connection to the people involved. “And it’s always fun to see my family on totems. There’ve been a lot of creative ways that people have put out art and totems that incorporate my family, and that always touches my heart.” Totems and outfits are as much an aspect as the professional artistry. And it all comes together to create the memorable moments of EDC.
“It’s a totally different world. Now we can actually afford to do things that have never been done before,” says Rotella about the days when art was hands-on and hopes-high. “Before, we had to make art out of paper mache. We were very limited on resources. It was very DIY. If there was anything creative going on, the same people that produced the festival built it with our own hands. Now we can bring in artists that have great reputations. We can come up with ideas and really take it to the next level. And it’s the same with technology. Dance music has always been about what’s next. Dance music has always about pushing the limit and been on top of what’s happening now, willing to take risks and experience with what’s happening on the technology side.”
From the artists who’ve been around since the beginning to the newcomers so excited to be involved, from the production that’s expanded beyond even the designers’ dreams and the people are constantly in awe, EDC has become a Vegas institution that we’re constantly thankful to have.
For EDC 2016, the stages have expanded, the art is more explosive, and they’ve planned a massive 20-year celebration show that will take away what little breath we all have left. Rotella’s statement, “You’re not gonna feel like you’re at the same festival this year” has been true at our every attendance. We’re expecting to be equally blown away this time around. And we echo Rotella’s advice to fans: “Please bring as much energy as you are able to. Show us that you are a part of the experience. I truly believe that you get back as much energy as you put in, so if someone puts a bunch of effort into making an amazing totem or creative outfit, they’ll get all kinds of love back their way when walking through the festival, from us and from fellow headliners. It’ll enhance their experience for sure.”
EDC 2016 is coming up fast. Twenty years have flown by. And we’re all looking forward to another 20, 30, why not 100 years of EDC. “We’re fans of the music and of the culture and of the energy of these events and we’re looking to wow people each time. We’re look to outdo ourselves. It’s always a work in progress, we’ll never really be done.”
So when you’re out there this year, take a moment to think back on the history of this amazing event, the people who pushed it forward and still make it possible; then go right back to dancing your ass off.