Oct 252011

You might expect that after having been to so many unusual festivals around the world, they’d eventually start to get old.

But you’d be wrong.

The thing that keeps me coming for more is the sheer diversity – the fact that the water war of Thai Songkran is completely and utterly different from the peace-and-love music festival of Roskilde, which is in turn nothing like the traditional Japanese dance of Awa Odori or the decadence of Brazilian Carnaval.

…And well, once again, I can honestly say that nothing I’ve ever experienced has been quite like the Electric Daisy Carnival.

When Herb first sent me the trailer a few months ago I was flabbergasted that I’d never even heard of it. Until just last year EDC had been held in the LA Colosseum, mere miles from my home.

It looked absolutely amazing…but I knew I couldn’t go. At the time I was still bumming around Thailand more than 8,000 miles away.

Little did I know that only a few weeks later I’d be back home in America extending my stay time and time again. So while I’d (still) hate to say that something good came of my unexpected return…well…I guess that’s exactly what I’m trying to say 😛

At its heart, EDC is a rave – so perhaps if I’d been a raver back in the 90’s I wouldn’t have found it quite so surprising. But as mentioned in the previous post, I didn’t really start partying until after I’d left the US. Somehow raves just never made their way onto my radar.

As far as I can tell, a rave is more or less a big party with the following key traits:

1) It features electronic music (my preferred genre)
2) It usually takes place outdoors (my preferred venue)
3) Attendees wear outrageous, colorful costumes (which as you know, I love doing even when it *isn’t* appropriate ;))
4) The vibe is one of openness, friendliness, and acceptance…or as ravers say, “PLUR.”

(Disclaimer: I know this is a huge oversimplification; feel free to berate me in the comments if you like.)

While each of these traits would individually make for an enjoyable event, it was the last – the friendliness of the people – that really made EDC such an experience to remember.

When I go out to a typical nightclub it’s really a shot in the dark whether I end up meeting friendly people or stuckup jerks who immediately turn the other way. But at EDC, I can honestly say that everyone I encountered was smiling and friendly.

If I told someone it was my first rave their reaction would be to give me a huge hug and ask if there’s anything they could do to help make my time better. If I was thirsty people would offer me water; if I tripped they’d rush to help me up; if I struggled to see the stage someone would lift me onto their shoulders. It was like one huge, friendly family…of 250,000 people who’d never before met.

I’ll be honest, until this weekend my image of a rave was probably pretty close to what yours likely is: crowds of “E-Tards” – drooling drug addicts – throbbing mindlessly to the music. And while drugs are without a doubt present, that’s about as far as the accuracy of my image went.

Really, it felt more like an electronic version of Roskilde – a sprawling, artistic, colorful gathering where everyone is as kind and welcoming as can be.

Of course, this “PLUR” attitude is more a description of raves in general than just of EDC…which, as far as raves go, is the mother of them all…

This year’s lineup had virtually every top DJ in the worldTiesto, David Guetta, Avicii, Swedish House Mafia Markus Schulz, Ferry Corsten, Laidback Luke, Paul Oakenfold, Chuckie, Afrojack, Roger Sanchez, Dirty South, Steve Angello, Calvin Harris, Steve Aoki, Hernan Cattaneo, Dada Life, Wolfgang Gartner, Royksopp, Crystal Method, Porter Robinson, Skrillex, and about 150 others.

Plus, the effort that clearly went into the presentation was unlike anything I’d ever seen:

Helicopters and blimps soaring overhead, paratroopers leaving spark trails behind them, six-storey stages with ultra high-res LCD displays, tesla coils, flamethrowers, building-sized sculptures, dozens of brightly-lit carnival rides, costumed performers and dancers, huge robots, acrobats, hour-long firework displays, the list goes on and on.

It was complete and utter sensory overload – the sights, smells, and sounds of every inch of the ONE THOUSAND acre festival grounds absolutely overwhelming.

And that doesn’t even get into the people – perhaps even more memorable than the “official” displays themselves. Never could I have imagined such colorfully (and seductively) dressed a crowd.

Women wore brightly colored bikinis, laced thong underwear and glittery pasties; jumping around in crowds essentially naked as they’re surrounded by confetti and smoke.

Everywhere you look is another sight that makes you doubt that you’re still in reality. Something like this could only exist in a dream. It’s Wonderland. That’s really how it felt – sans drugs.

For three unforgettable nights, Herb, myself, and our new group of friends explored a world we never even knew existed. A world filled with the most powerful music I’ve ever heard, the most friendly people I’ve ever met, the brightest lights I’ve ever seen and an experience I’ll truly never forget.

And just think: only one month earlier I thought I’d at this very moment be roaming around the ancient ruins of Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Fate was looking out for me I guess.

I’ll tell you one thing about this year’s Electric Daisy Carnival: it may’ve been my first, but you can be damn sure it won’t be my last 😉

Note: These posts are behind realtime; the above took place on the last weekend of July.

  7 Responses to “EDC 2011: The World’s Biggest Rave”

  1. I love Empire of the Sun.

  2. Sweeet! Sounds like a lot of fun

  3. @Allyn: Really! Nobody else in the group had even heard of them – they were definitely a very unique live act…

  4. “Sensory overload” was the exact impression I had when I first saw the trailer.

  5. “Sensory overload”…but in the awesomest possible sense (pun intended ;))

  6. Why didn’t you put stickers on your nipples? 😉 looks like you had some crazy fun times

  7. Haha stickers on my nipples? What do you think I am, a weirdo? 😉

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