The Electric Daisy Carnival

I am able to write this post because of a fabulous last-minute stay of execution — as mentioned in my last post, I’m engaged in a literary death match with my friend Mojave Phonebooth, wherein we both have to finish rough drafts of our respective memoirs by a certain date. Well, I thought the deadline was the end of June…so I’ve been getting up at 9am every day and banging out upwards of 5,000 words per session, trying to get it done by Thursday (the penalty for failure is going to church for 8 weeks…no, thanks!). But come to find out, I misread the contract….and the deadline isn’t til the end of JULY! Whew!! Now I can get back to my busy schedule of booze, drugs and parties!

This news came just in time for the booziest, druggiest party of them all — the Electric Daisy Carnival. If you haven’t heard of it, the EDC is this huuuuuge rave put on every year by Insomniac Events. For the past 13 years or so, it was held in Southern California…but after the Ecstasy overdose of a 15-year old girl last year, they were kicked out of L.A. and had to set up camp in Vegas, instead.

I remember seeing the billboards for it last year, on the freeway to L.A….but I never really looked into it. I’m not a raver, so I figured it wasn’t my scene…although my trips to Burning Man have given me an appreciation for a little oontz-oontz-oontz music now and then. All things in moderation, ya know?

So this year, since the EDC was going on right down the street, I figured I should probably check it out in the interest of living life to the fullest. I’m way too miserly to cough up the $200 for a ticket, though, so decided to trust in the Playa Gods and just wait for a ticket to manifest itself. (JUST KIDDING! I *hate* when lazy, unemployed hippies say that about Burning Man…get a f*ckin’ job and buy a ticket like the rest of us, man!!!!!)

Anyhoo, it so happened that my little sister is dating some guy who knows the mastermind behind Insomniac Events, and he got free VIP passes for the weekend. They drove all the way down here from the Bay Area, and partied hard Friday and Saturday night. But they had to drive back on Sunday…so they gave me their tickets for the third and final night. Woo hoo!!


I took my little 18-year old friend from work with me, and we headed over there after work Sunday night, rolling in around midnight. But even at midnight on the last night of the rave, the place was jam-packed and the traffic was craaaaazy. According to the news, nearly 200,000 ravers descended on Vegas for this event — but I’m not sure how much of a boon this was to our local economy, since at least half of them were under 21 and couldn’t do much in Vegas, anyway.

For the last week or so, the local news has been all atwitter over the demonic, ecstasy-fueled ravers and the havoc they were likely to wreak. Every cop in Nevada seemed to be working the event, which was held at the Las Vegas Speedway…normally home to the NASCAR races. But this crowd was a FAR cry from the usual NASCAR folks, that’s for sure!!! If Dale Earnhardt could have seen what was going on at his track, he’d have choked on his chaw.

The heavy police presence was a total joke, anyway — they were ostensibly there to keep anyone from doing drugs, but…it seemed to me like 99% of the attendees were high as kites anyway. Despite the security checkpoint at the gate, where guards patted you down to make sure you weren’t smuggling in any contraband — you couldn’t even bring in Chapstick or teddy bears, and they made me take off my wig to make sure I didn’t have a mountain of coke hidden under there — there was evidently some sort of loophole that everyone was climbing through. I think a lot of people simply hid their drugs in their bloodstream!

But maybe that’s just my warped, inebriated perspective — a reporter friend of mine who visited the EDC both Saturday and Sunday nights stone-cold sober said he thought only about 20% of the attendees were high. According to him, the higher you yourself are…the higher everyone else seems. But idk….people were coming up to me all night long wanting to stroke my pink Afro wig. If that’s not Ecstasy, I don’t know what is!

Whether or not everyone was high (I still stand by my original assessment), I was shocked at the number of young ravers in attendance. I thought raves were a relic of the ’90s, attended only by old Burners and druggies. How wrong I was! As mentioned, a good half of the crowd at EDC was under 21, and they were hardcore into the rave lifestyle, with furry boots, skimpy costumes and crazy jewelry being the order of the day. Everyone was running around spouting “PLUR!” which come to find out is like the rave version of “Namaste!” — it stands for “Peace, Love, Unity and Respect.” (I learned this from my 18-year-old friend, who had written a paper about rave culture back in 10th grade, and was a fount of information.)

Overall, I was totally impressed by the EDC. I had expected a run-of-the-mill rave, with DJs and a Ferris wheel off to the side…but it turned out be more like Burning Man meets a real live carnival! There were flaming skydivers, fireworks, and TONS of rides — everything from bumper cars and Ferris wheels to the Tilt-A-Whirl and a verrrrrry engaging Fun House that was even Funner when inebriated. I’ve never gone to a carnival in an altered state of consciousness…but I WHOLEHEARTEDLY endorse doing so! IT WAS A BLAST!

Picture your average carnival, staffed by bemused, semi-literate carnies…only with thundering house music shaking the ground, and tens of thousands of half-naked wackos running around in furry hats and platform boots. And THAT’s the EDC in a nutshell. FUN!

My friend and I wandered around in a state of vegetable-induced wonderment, riding all the rides and checking out all the light-up art installations — many of which I recognized from Burning Men past. The only bummer was that it was FILTHY — the whole thing was held basically in a parking lot and on a NASCAR race track, so the ground was really dirty. You didn’t really notice it, what with all the flashing lights and distractions…but then around 5am the sun started to come up, revealing melted makeup mixed with sooty grime on the shining faces of one and all. 

Once the sun started to rise, my friend and I took one last ride on the Ferris wheel and then got the hell out of there about a half hour before the official end of the rave, in order to beat the horrendous traffic. It worked like a charm — I was in bed by 7am, and this after a pit stop for hashbrowns at Carl’s Jr., followed by a scalding hot shower. I snoozed the rest of the day away, waking up around 1pm, and wasn’t much the worse for wear. Gooooood times!
















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What to say about EDC? In 2013, I attended with an “Experience Creator” laminate with some of my LA crew staging the “Altervision 3D Blacklight Experience” in a 60′ x 60′ tent right next to Kinetic Field. We were there day and night for almost a week! Our tent was super popular with security and custodians in the 100+ degree heat during daylight hours, as our installation included two massive air conditioners. You have to admit, Pasquale really knows how to put on a show: every stage was a total-pro display of sound and light; free rides; a wide variety of vendors; and awesome works of art, many contracted through my hard-core burner friends finally getting some scratch for their toil.
What I HATE about EDC however, was the typical male attendee. In order to get the full effect of our “Altervision” experience, you need to wear these special chroma depth glasses, and much time was spent passing out individual pairs to people in a continuous line of ravers. While the girls mostly fit the profile of playa sparkle ponies in training, but the dudes mostly fit the profile of frat boys with limited dancing skills on a poon hunt. I’ll never forget the two ‘bros’ I saw with matching florescent yellow shirts that read “I Shaved My Balls For This?” Douche-bag central.
Still, it was a lot of fun and I would definitely go again if I didn’t have to pay. One of my friends works for Insomniac and is in charge of all the costumed ‘characters’ roaming the grounds and from what I’ve gleaned in this blog, Wonderhussy is a perfect fit for one of these jobs.

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