The Chicago Tribune has hopped the sob story bandwagon alongside the LA Times, throwing more criticism at the controversial Pasquale Rotella and his Electric Daisy Carnival massive. From humble beginnings in 1997 based in Southern California, Rotella has built a veritable empire with Insomniac events, EDC being just one of the many. Ever since 2009 it’s been taking American cities by storm — from New York to Orlando, Puerto Rico, Dallas, Denver, to Los Angeles (which we all know is notoriously nevermore), Las Vegas, and will finally cross the pond to reach London for the first time in July. For a bit of nostalgia, check out EDC’s 2000 archived page as a reminder of how far the festival has come over the past two decades.
This weekend marks the very first edition of EDC Chicago, and like clockwork, mainstream media is griping about drugs and money. Chicago Tribune reporter, Heather Gillers, focuses on economics as the crux of her argument, claiming that Insomniac has paid for reports commending the festival’s profitability for its host cities, perhaps as a dangling carrot to entice new cities to host, or as a way to absolve itself of the contentious flack Insomniac draws from illicit activities at, what Gillers refers to as “rave-inspired events.”
What’s tiresome about reading articles like this one from The Tribune that (a) highlight drug-related dangers of festivals, and (b) question the long-term financial impact they have on host cities, is that nowhere in the argument is the notion of art and entertainment taken into account. Youth culture will forever be in a state of reckless experimentation and rebellion, inspired and fueled by alternative music, art, and activities. It’s not something that can be squashed by banning “rave-inspired events” or increasing security measures to aggressive heights.
Isn’t this what we’re seeing in the world at large, far beyond the “EDM” microcosm? Freedoms are being strangled at the apparent cost of safety, but more accurately, for the sake of control. The abandonment of individual responsibility is also at the core of not only “rave” culture but also modern society. The ignorance of a few always manages to damage the experience for the majority when an incident incites extreme preventative backlash.
But overall, Gillers’ slant debating the profit margins of festivals like EDC is a sobering reminder that there actually is no real debate going on–it’s all about the bottom line. Whether EDC benefits communities, or whether it burdens them with excessive trash and emergency room visits is beside the point. It makes an exorbitant amount of money, and as long as it keeps doing that, nothing anyone says about the alleged liabilities or benefits with even matter.