From Molly to Moon Tribes: Inside Electric Daisy Carnival's New #Vanlife Era

From Rolling Stone - September 6, 2017

Pasquale Rotella is on his way to Burning Man via a tiny plane, which he loathes.

"I'd rather pack up an RV and drive 15 hours and wait another seven hours in line," he says with a laugh. That was how he used to travel the first 14 times he visited the festival. It was just him and a bike on the Playa, as festival regulars call the large sandy expanse of the dried lake bed. Now, as the chief executive of a multimillion-dollar EDM festival franchise, he has his tiny plane to jet him there.

But the Insomniac Events founder, who began his career in semi-legal warehouse raves as a teenager, still has the soul of a Burner. And next year, he's bringing it to his wildest event, Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas.

EDC's just-announced changes include new dates, new stages, and most notablylodging. Attendees can rent RVs or park their own on campsites of various designs. Readymade communities will offer dazzling art installations to massage services to Eighties aerobics classes (more on that later). Opening ceremonies will usher in myriad forms of dance music from trap, trance, techno, bass, house, bounce and beyond. Who will show up? If last year's surprise drop-ins are any indicationDrake, Diplo, Bryan CranstonRotella is telling the truth when he says he has literally no idea.

EDC's new hippyish accoutrements are, in Rotella's view, about returning to rave culture's roots: connection, collaboration and art. But they are also, potentially, a way to relax the festival's hyperactive one-night-only milieu. In 2017 and in 2011, one attendee each year died from MDMA overdoses at EDC. Particularly in a post-Ghost Ship society, Rotella is sensitive that, as one of the more visible public proponents of rave and DIY culture, eyeballs are on him to prove why rave culture is worth protecting.

Burning Man is over 30 years old now, and it has not lost its cachet. What did the organizers get right?
What they have done is absolutely nothingand that's what so brilliant about it. I think about where raves startedas transformational, experiential festivalsand rave culture fueled festival culture in America. I think that Burning Man is inspired by that. It's organized by the people that attend. The organizers just provide an open space, filled with raversold school, new school ravers. People go all out. It's like having 50,000 production managers. An event by the people for the people. Those are the same roots of EDC. Music is just one piece. The dress, installations, black light ballrooms underground, yoga areas, old moon tribeswhatever it isit's all become part rave culture.

How do you see next year's EDC changeslodging, opening ceremony, day activitiesaltering the tone of the festival?
Well, it's not like Burning Man in that the lodging is all right there. There is an RV there for you, glamping options as well. But I think camping can bring likeminded people together in amazing ways. You have time to talk. There's not this rush. There's time to meditate and connect. As gratifying as it is listening to the show, now you can get a massage during a set or take a yoga class. I want people to be able to go to a temporary city where communities have been formed. Granted, we are not going to camp everybodyit's limited to a percentage of people.

Speaking of lodging though, I have to bring up the Fyre Festival disaster. What red flags struck you, as an event organizer.
Well, for one thing, the distance did not make a lot of sense. And, to be clear, this wo not be our first rodeo. We have a few other events that offer campsite lodging. We are more just giving you space, making it easier for people to camp out if they choose to do that.

Last year's EDC, Drake came out unexpectedly. You have had Justin Bieber in the past. Do you see mainstream acts becoming more of an EDC cornerstone?
We have always done pop crossover. Last year we had John Legend, Drake, Miguel, G-Eazy, Rae Sremmurd come out. It keeps the "you had to be there" spirit alive.

But everything gets old at some point, right? That's the problem rock and pop music festivals have now. The rosters feel the same.
We have really been blessed because when iconic individuals show up and you see them up there [onstage] making art togetherthat's impactful. We had Alison Wonderland, Jauz and Diplo do back to back sets at once. Andlike, Drake showing up [with Metro Boomin] was a huge moment at the festival last year. It's cool because we are a dance music festivaland the biggest act in the world shows up. No one promoted or talked about it. I knew a little bit beforehand only because I had to help coordinate his travel, but that was really it.

Do you feel EDC has grown out of anything in particular?
It's more like, I always want to change things from year-to-year. I am constantly over anything we just did. If I am bored, then how the hell is anyone else going to enjoy this? We are still putting a lot of this together. But for example, me and someone in the office were thinking about what a soundtrack would be for rave aerobics? Like, Night at the Roxbury [laughs]funny, cheesy hits we could play between sets. Maybe it's a call to action for people to dress in Eighties gear from 2 to 3 p.m.

"Dance music is about pushing things forward."


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