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Electric Daisy Carnival 2011

A handful of thoughts from EDC Night 2

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Two dancers take a rest at the neonGARDEN backstage at the Electric Daisy Carnival.
Aaron Thompson

5 p.m. Life sucks without a car. Everyone knows that, but you really begin to appreciate the comfort of four rubber wheels with air conditioning and a shield from the elements when you’re walking three and a half miles with around 15 pounds of photo gear and only a 10-ounce bottle of water. As I trudge along Las Vegas Boulevard, an out-of-work man named Mike starts talking to me. He’s also enduring the walk, but not to get f*cked up and watch some awesome electronic music. He’s simply looking for work.

EDC Night 2

2011 EDC: Night 2 With DJ David Guetta

“My buddy told me that if I show up with a white shirt, black pants and black shoes they can find me something to do.” Mike, 32, is an unemployed mason, who makes due with various odd jobs and selling things he says “don’t hurt anyone.” And yet, he’s braving the oppressive heat, looking for work. Never mind the fact that he’s three hours late for the gig.

“People said that they were taking on people to work up until 6 p.m., so maybe I’ll get lucky. If I don’t, at least I got a good walk in.”

7 p.m. As rave-o-holic Sean Of The Deckz jumps over the metal barrier in the entrance line to EDC on Day 2, a feeling of tepid exuberance is on his face.

“I had to wait four hours to get in yesterday,” Deckz complains about the nightmare many fans had to endure waiting for their security checks on Friday. “Today I got here at four just so I could get in on time.” As the first person inside of the venue, he receives no real recognition short of a security guy telling him to “Have a good time,” in nearly morose indifference.

“(Being first inside) is good enough for me,” he yells as he runs off into the distance of the Speedway.

10 p.m. L.A. raver girl “Bunny,” dances on a table inside of the Speedway infield. Wearing a skimpy bathing suit top that barely contains her and an equally skimpy bottom, Bunny’s hip gyrations, cute demeanor and golden bellybutton ring exude absolute sexy. But she’s only 16, allowed entrance into EDC only thanks to a California DMV official’s clerical error that marked her age as 18. “I guess I’m lucky,” she says in a drunk honesty as her friend glares, clearly annoyed. “I kinda punked the DMV, and I’m just here in this beautiful sea of people.”

Midnight As Night 2 sets in, a group of die-hard EDM fans gather next to a hot dog stand near pit row. They’ve been raging for the last two days, but the nearly non-stop partying has begun to take a toll. While their costumes—a flamboyant fish, psychotic bunny rabbit and sexy bee—look nearly perfect, two days of walking and intense heat is clearly getting to them.

“We pretty much saw all of this place last night,” local EDM super fan J.D. Estrada says. “But the magic of the venue has kind of worn off.” A night and a half of ass-shaking seem to have affected the audience, as Saturday’s crowd appears almost passive as people wander from stage to stage looking for their favorite DJs. But that doesn’t mean there still isn’t enough psychotic energy floating around. Inside of the neon semi-canopied Circuit Grounds field, a manic guy jumps repeatedly into the air, arms spread like he’s trying to hug the field. He repeats this process nearly six times until he collapses onto the ground in a pile of worn-out mush. He lies on his back for about two minutes and starts up again. And again. And again.

3 a.m. As metalhead-gone-bass crossover DJ Skrillex takes the stage and the crowd at the Neon Garden goes predictably shit-crazy, the backstage scene is slightly more restrained, though equally insane. Crowds of sexy dancers clad in every color are primping and straightening their outfits while they wait for a cue from the stage manager to storm the stage and shake their asses in front of thousands of bass- and dubstep-hungry fans. The manager screams and the costumed girls walk in front of Skrillex’s DJ booth. A pair of freestyle BMX bikers does various flips, jumps and kickstands to thrill the crowd. The thousands watching, the dancers and even Skrillex seem awash in ecstasy and joy. If there were a nirvana for ravers, this may be it.

4:45 a.m. The sun is rising, and the morning begins to illuminate the Speedway. Thousands of ravers begin to file out of the stadium. Once packed stages and walking areas have thinned out to include only a small but fierce contingent of hardcore rave-o-holics who keep grooving even as their faces contort with fatigue. Day 2 is coming to a close, and after more than seven hours of dancing and partying, even the Speedway is beginning to look haggard. Garbage is all over the grounds, and a smattering of passed out fans litter the cool-down lounges and grassy areas. It’s a poetic scene, as the sun clears the grandstands and a couple embraces for a kiss. Her brown hair and olive skin radiates joy and potential sunburn, but it’s clear she doesn’t care, and at 6 a.m., among thousands of exhausted ravers and the multi-stage musical discordance, honestly, who really does? This must be the essence of EDC.

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Aaron Thompson

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