Water is your friend. Especially when you're dancing for hours on end in desert heat. But it's not uncommon for EDC attendees to neglect hydration amidst the deluge of sensory overload that is Electric Daisy Carnival. Fortunately, Laura Newton and her Ground Control minions have your back.
“We like to make it rain free water,” says Newton. “Last year, it was 114 degrees. They're in Vegas. I can't imagine they're eating healthy and staying sober in their hotels. They're partying beforehand. They're going to pool parties, and being in the sun dehydrates you. And then dancing for hours.”
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Eighteen seconds into EDC's 2015 Vegas trailer, sexy female clowns in hot pink afros pull a bearded man out of his chair and get him dancing. Coulrophobia—fear of clowns—may be a common phenomenon thanks to scary fictional characters like Stephen King's Pennywise and American Horror Story's Twisty, but EDC's clowns have virtually reinvented the archetype. One woman deserves most of the credit. “I wanted to combine my femininity and sex appeal with the idea that clowns were kind of scary and or frumpy,” remembers longtime EDC clown boss Ms Easy. “I thought it'd be shocking to see an attractive female in a costume that's often considered intimidating. I initially conceived it as a performance art piece.”
Since arriving in Las Vegas in 2011, Electric Daisy Carnival has quelled naysayers, battled Mother Nature and ballooned in size. As a veteran festival performer, I’ve followed Electric Daisy Carnival’s Las Vegas odyssey from atop a pair of stilts. Here’s a look back, plus—with a little help from Insomniac CEO Pasquale Rotella—a peek forward at this year’s festival.
A microbus full of clowns rolls slowly through a crowd of ecstatic revelers. A flatland BMX rider nails a trick. A bald dude on pogo stilts does a backflip. A man in a suit of mirror shards shines from onstage. A hottie in a gas mask with rabbit ears wields flaming fans—you’ve seen them online in trailers. Maybe you’ve even interacted with them in the flesh at the festival. Electric Daisy Carnival Las Vegas employs more than 500 of these roving and stage performers: Clowns, aerialists, stilters, acrobats, dancers, contortionists, roller girls, puppeteers, mascots, Cyr wheelists, drummers, tumblers and more transform Las Vegas Motor Speedway into one of the world’s largest immersive performance environments. And who wrangles them? Meet Insomniac creative director Bunny and his entertainment director sidekick, Jila.
Under the Electric Sky isn’t the first feature-length film to attempt to capture the magic of Electric Daisy Carnival. I should know: I was the giant blue caterpillar and the ukulele-playing clown on stilts in 2011′s Electric Daisy Carnival Experience. I may or may not have a cameo this time around, but I’ve got higher hopes for Electric Sky.
In January, I road-tripped to Park City, Utah, to sport Flea-inspired, stuffed-animal-covered stilt pants for the newer film’s Sundance premiere—my trousers looked like a toy store threw up on them. Pasquale Rotella, CEO of EDC promoter Insomniac, brought his wife, Holly Madison, and their daughter, Rainbow, to the party. I’ll never forget the wide-eyed expression on Rainbow’s face as she attempted to wrap her tiny mind around the Beanie Baby menagerie towering over her...
After making its first foray off American soil in London last July, Electric Daisy Carnival continued its international expansion March 15 and 16 with the inaugural EDC Mexico. The south-of-the-border version of the massively-popular, EDM-fueled carnival took place over two days at a Mexico City speedway called the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, and hosted close to 80,000 “headliners” (how EDC boss Pasquale Rotella affectionately refers to attendees). Avicii, Zeds Dead, Baauer, Steve Angello, Boys Noize, Showtek, Cajmere, Loco Dice, Cazzette, Krewella, Clockwork, Kaskade, Flux Pavilion, Digweed, Araabmuzik and more performed. Below are five differences between EDC Mexico and the Las Vegas festival.
Being Steve Aoki is a dangerous job. But paparazzi and stalkers are the least of the music celebrity’s worries. The Japanese-American DJ is the Evel Knievel of the EDM world, stage diving and crowd surfing on the regular. A trampoline leap gone wrong in Puerto Rico earned him a trip to the emergency room. Aoki’s video team documents the incident in “Puerto Rico Stage Dive Trampoline Fail: On the Road with Steve Aoki #37” on YouTube. Even though he’s in obvious pain, Aoki insists on playing one more song for his adoring fans before being whisked away in an ambulance.
Lorin Ashton was in sixth grade when the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake hit his hometown of San Francisco. He was rid- ing shotgun with his mother when they heard the God- synthesized sub-bass. The car bounced. Trees appeared to sway and melt. His mom screamed. Ashton remembers thinking to himself, “Wow ... this is power.”
“I was emotionally seized by the pure force of that low frequency. I didn’t understand or rationalize it at the time, but that was the first time I remember feeling terrified and overwhelmed by a natural power much greater than myself. And much more in control.” It quite literally rocked his world. “Humans were tossed aside like leaves,” remembers Ashton. “Roads bent in impossible ways, and trees and houses distorted."
Burning Man is a cameraman’s wet dream. Several documentaries have attempted to tackle the annual desert experiment in temporary community. Spark is the most inspired by a landslide. Even veteran burners turned off by the event’s inevitable growth and evolution—what they perceive as “commercialization”—will be enthralled by the archival footage contained in this all-access portrait from first-time director Steve Brown.
Curious about the now massive, 28-year-old art party? Brown’s film distills a complex gathering with a rich history into a cohesive narrative. Spark follows two large-scale artists, a theme camp director and the founders as they gear up for a particularly trying year. Ticket distribution issues, leadership challenges and predictably difficult weather are among the obstacles faced as they navigate their respective journeys.