Last night I attended my first Electric Daisy Carnival in more than 14 years—and it was quite the eye opener.
While it's only natural that new generations inevitably make a culture their own, I came up mostly empty handed in the search for certain clues into my raver past. Still, the heart of the culture—the music and the dancing—does remain. And yes, for the most part, PLUR does still exist, too, at least pockets of it. Of course, after nearly two decades since the first EDC, the dress, attendance, venue size and production value are totally different, but there were a few other differences that this old-school raver couldn't help but notice.
What's your vibe?
A big part of the night was my search for a unified vibe—that invisible force that united everyone in the room. While there's really no "room" anymore, and not one stage but eight, if you wanted to join in a vibe, the only way to do that was to visit each individual stage and its surrounding area. Whether you visited the Kinetic Field, Bass Con or the Circuit Grounds, eventually you could pick up on the vibes flowing through the crowd. Some might say it would be nearly impossible for a festival with that many people to share in just one consistent vibe (and they'd probably be right), but I was pleasantly surprised to share in some good vibes, even if they were divided up by stages.
Just a plain white paper medical mask with a few dobs of Vicks VapoRub inside and we put them on—nothing fancy. Today, it's a fashion show of creative ways to display your medical mask. Designed with beads, neon and rainbow-colored paint—different sizes and shapes, small and large, it appears to be the new accessory for your face.
The kingly DJ
Back in the day, you were lucky if there was more than one stage, and the stage was often small enough that you could nearly reach out and touch the DJ, with no barrier between the artist and the crowd. At Electric Daisy Carnival, the DJ has been upgraded to kingly status, especially at the Kinetic Field, where the cathedral-themed DJ booth sits elevated over the rest of the stage and far from attendees, almost like the separation of church and state. Far from the front of the stage, the DJ is ant-sized, and you have better luck looking at the amazing pyrotechnics and giant media projections. The days of actually watching the DJ perform, throwing their hands in the air and dancing along with you to the beat are mostly over.
The tour guide
In my heyday, if you lost your friends at a rave, it might have been a couple hours before you found them again. At EDC, people have become clever in their endeavor to stick with their groups, with one person designated as the flagpole-totting tour guide. Following your group means following the creatively decorated pole waving high above the crowd. The poles were also easy ways to spot your group if you accidently wandered off, all you need to do was walk around and look up.
Playing it safe
My generation was lucky if there was one or two EMTs on-site to assist in any medical emergencies. Even then, most EMTs, even some police officers, were at the raves unofficially, volunteering off-duty. There were even instances when no medical staff was available, and if you had an emergency you and your group were asked to leave the premises and head to the hospital on your own. It's actually a positive that a complete medical center, equipped with motorized carts serving as mini ambulances, is available at EDC. There's never a downside to partying safely, and it's nice to know these measures have been put in place. (There was one death at Electric Daisy Carnival Night 1, a California man who reportedly collapsed in the parking lot and was transported to UMC.)